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Showing content with the highest reputation since 06/23/2014 in Blog Entries

  1. 6 points
    Atari 5200 Guy

    Small Size, Big Heart

    What to write about? I know I want to write about the 2600 but I just don't know where to begin. Do I talk more about the iconic woody console or the Junior model? I don't have much to say about controllers because it's either paddle, driving, keypad, or more joystick designs than anyone could fathom. Games? Do I talk more about games that I have managed to pick up since my last post? I might have to think on this a bit more. While I'm thinking... As I sit here writing this there is a 2600 Junior model sitting in front of me. Recently acquired in unknown condition I spent the better part of a day taking it apart all the way down to the motherboard and gave it a good cleaning. Wondering why I couldn't get bubbles off the chrome strip I finally discovered that the protective covering had never been taken off. Nice surprise. So I removed it. I couldn't let all that moisture remain trapped and ruining that beautiful chrome strip. It still has some color issues I have to work out but is functional otherwise. Since I'm here, and more Atari games have been added to my collection, I'll do a bit of an updated version of my favorite cartridges. Keep in mind these are personal favorites solely based on two factors...they are favorites and played the most. Let's get started. Favorite Black Label Carts I have two black label favorites. Video Chess and Yar's Revenge. Yar's Revenge was a 2600 title I could have seen as a Saturday Morning cartoon show. It wasn't until a recent Squad Challenge that the true nature of this game proved to me just how challenging Yar's could really be. Because of that, and the few years I've been biased about the 2600 in general, that this game moved up the ranks as a favorite and played often. It's arcade-style game play is rock solid and sure to give the joystick a workout. Video Chess is my go-to black label game when I want to play a relaxing game. I still haven't managed to beat the computer but I enjoy playing Chess and don't really have a human opponent to go up against. I'm not a pro at the game but I enjoy this classic strategy game. I have never found a perfect computerized Chess game either and the 2600 is not without its own flaws. However the 2600 is a very strong opponent no matter which skill level you attempt at trying to win. And it will always plan its next moves carefully but at times it seems as if its first few moves are preset. Still fun, though. Favorite Silver Label Cart One of my favorite games on the 5200 is Vanguard so it shouldn't be no surprise that the 2600 port of Vanguard became a favorite. I love the artwork on the label and surprised that it isn't the same one that was used on the 5200 as was often done. Compared to the 5200 port Vanguard on the 2600 seems a bit more challenging and a bit more unforgiving. One mistake can mean sudden death. I also believe this is the only 2600 game I have that has a continue feature. It's also the only one where the player can move diagonally while firing because you can't do that in the 5200 port. Graphics in this game are absolutely stunning and the sounds are not much different from the 5200. I do miss the music that plays during some of the vertical scrolling segments. I also miss the Striped Zone that is absent in the 2600 port. And I have yet to destroy the end boss before it takes me down. Believe it or not, I never knew this was an arcade game for the longest time until I discovered an actual cab during the NES days. Very well made 2600 port with very little to no flicker issues. My favorite shoot'em up on the 2600. Favorite Adventure Cart For most other 2600 gamers Adventure might be their favorite adventure-style game but for me Dark Chambers has slightly taken an edge above Adventure. I enjoy having to figure out the levels to find items and exits that are often hidden. I also enjoy having to go through the level screens to figure out how to reach those items. For this reason this game gets more play time than Adventure in my library. I personally think it is even slightly better than the 7800 version. That one looks better but, as NSG has mentioned, if only it would have taken the game play concept of hidden items to find the 7800 version might have been the better game. But, alas, the 2600 once again shows just how well it can capture a gamer's attention and hold it when properly developed for. And Dark Chambers is one of those games. I've not been able to spend as much time with it as I would like to fully enjoy it but what little I have played of it I keep finding myself spending more time in every level trying to find items than what is probably required. Seriously, I've spent about 15 minutes in some levels. Favorite Pinball Cart Again, it should be no surprise that Midnight Magic makes for one of my most played 2600 games. I like Video Pinball but at times you just sit there waiting to do something. Midnight Magic manages to capture some of the pure essence that makes pinball tables fun. There are targets, bumpers, a spinner, kickbacks, dual flippers, rollover targets...this game has the basics that are perfectly placed and captures what made some of the early pinball tables memorable. Knock down all the targets at the top and the game goes into double points. The table also changes color and plays a short tune. Knocking down targets again advances the multiplier all the way up to five times the points obtained. Lose your ball, however, and it's back to single points again. Do it right and the player can obtain extra balls. Lose all five balls and the game is over. Easy to pick up and play, no flickering, and it looks good. I'm also a little partial to this game because when I got my very first paycheck the NES and Sega Genesis were on the market. Instead of buying anything for either of those I picked up a new 2600 Junior, Jr. Pac-Man, and this game. All for about $50. I played Midnight Magic the most. Favorite Arcade Cart The 2600 got lots of arcade ports. While the limitations of the system kept most ports from looking like their arcade parents the game play managed to remain intact. Two arcade ports stand out in my collection. Space Invaders and Gyruss. Space Invaders was the very first Atari game I remember playing many moons ago on a store display. Dangling from a chain I put the game in and quit playing only when it was time to leave. This game was the one that introduced me to Atari, the VCS, and the only reason why I kept hoping for one. Gyruss, on the other hand, was a game I remember playing in arcades and enjoyed it immediately. I must have been sleeping when Parker Bros. ported this game over to various consoles. Being fairly new to my collection Gyruss on the 2600 has quickly become a favorite. It might not be graphically impressive but the game play is there and the music that constantly plays in the arcade was put in the 2600 port in all of it's 2-channel glory. And it's really not all that bad. Missing are the sound effects because the music constantly playing doesn't leave room for any sound effects. A valiant effort that is a very worthwhile cart to play. One of my favorite arcade games and one of my now favorite 2600 games. Space Invaders and Gyruss. What more could one ask for? Favorite Dot Munching Cart Mouse Trap is an easy to pick-up and play dot munching game where the player controls a mouse. The object is to eat all the dots in the maze of which I'm not entirely certain what they are suppose to be. In each of the four corners of the maze are X's that change the player into a dog temporarily when the fire button is pressed. This helps keep the cats chasing the mouse at bay. A unique feature of this game is the ability to change the maze by opening and closing doors. Doing this can help block cats from catching the mouse. Originally released on the 2600 by Coleco of ColecoVision fame the cart I has is the re-release Atari did with a red label. Still an easy game to pick up and play today. This one and Jr Pac-Man get lots of attention but I find myself coming back to this one more often. Favorite 3rd-Party Carts Fast Eddie and Planet Patrol are great 3rd-party 2600 games. I'm sure there are others but I have to base this post on games I have in my collection. Something about Fast Eddie is addictive. The ladders are vary in position with each game played, enemy characters are basic but challenging, and the only real thing the player has to do is collect things like hearts, tanks, fish, etc., to grab a key being guarded by the enemy at the top. It's a bit of Popeye (the collecting hearts part) mashed up with Lode Runner in a easier format. Very colorful game that is fun for hours on end. Planet Patrol is another shoot 'em up on the 2600. The only real difference is the changing of day to night, destroying enemies and reactors/power plants, and scrolling from right to left over left to right or vertically. A bit unusual. What makes this so appealing to me are the small details of this game. Easy to pick up and play, takes a while to master. I also love the chrome label, something rarely seen. It's very attractive and I could see how eye appealing that package would have been sitting next to other games, fighting to be taken home. It does that now in a large library of 2600 carts. Favorite Activision Cart It's almost unlawful to mention the 2600 without thinking immediately about the first 3rd-party game developer known as Activision. Activision literally pushed the 2600 as hard as they could and, in the end, it paid off. Almost every title they released for the 2600 was an instant classic. While I enjoy all Activision games in my collection the two that I go to the most are Enduro and Space Shuttle. Enduro took me completely by surprise in 1988 when I picked up a used 2600 with a bunch of games. This cart was one of the games included and when I first plugged it in I expected it to be a Pole Position rip-off. The next thing I know I had been playing it for over an hour and forced myself to stop when it was time for dinner. I was in 8th grade then. Enduro left such an impression that I would have an agonizing 24 hour wait time to return home to play it again. To help with that I woke up an hour early to get a game in before having to get ready for school. Space Invaders game me a reason to want an Atari, Enduro gave me a reason to hang on to one. Enough said. Space Shuttle. Gee, where do I begin with this one? You're a NASA astronaut and your mission is to dock with a satellite in space currently orbiting the Earth. Sounds simple, right? Then you give it a shot and wonder why in God's name you can't seem to leave the planet without killing you and your crew members. Then you grab the manual for some pointers. It is at this precise moment you realize what you have plugged into your 2600. This isn't a game...this is a simulator. The author wanted to capture as much as he could about space flight that he literally went to NASA and participated in learning everything the astronauts have to do and even used NASA's flight simulators used for training. I would have to say that his efforts paid off in probably the only simulation game made on the 2600. The amount of detail in unreal. Every switch on the 2600 does something to the space shuttle. There's a switch for running gear, brakes, deploying parachute when landing...let's see what else?...one to turn on ignition I think...it's unreal! The instructions alone are like a shortened step into NASA's school. The manual is thick and can take a lot of time alone to absorb. But it is also probably the most expensive instruction book made for any 2600 game ever. Full color, exploded views of an actual space shuttle, step-by-step instructions on what you are suppose to do. And it's on the 2600 to boot. I'm not very good at it but I keep finding myself coming back to this simulator because its visuals and sounds are absolutely amazing to me. I consider this one of Activision's, and Steve's, holy grail. If only today's games went this far. I believe there was only one other game to do something similar but it was at least a decade after Space Shuttle. For those that wanted to be astronauts but never did...here's your chance. This is as close as it gets. Favorite Paddle Game The 2600 had plenty of games but it also had plenty of controller options. I don't know how many times I would play a 2600 game without paying attention only to realize I needed paddle controllers. For the longest time I felt the paddle controllers for the 2600 could have been better. Once I found Warlords, however, that thought quickly changed. It didn't take me long to realize just how comfortable those paddle controllers actually are. And after hours of playing Warlords the design of the paddle controllers made sense. What makes playing Warlords for hours on end a must on the 2600 is the fact it's a mix of Pong and Breakout put together and then shaken up with steroids in the mix. The 2600 might not be graphically impressive but when it comes to game play it can strut its stuff like no other. Warlords offers four-player game play either solo against three computer players or with a group humans be it they are friends or enemies. And once the action starts it's hard to put down. All you have to do is break down your opponents' barrier to their castle to hit the center of their castle with the ball. That's it. Yea...good luck with that. Favorite Red Label Cart Since I did my favorite black and silver label carts I might as well tell my favorite red label cart. I kept wanting to put Solaris on this list but that game makes me rage quit so much that it could take me weeks to return to it. Radar Lock on the other hand is a well done game, by the same author, using most of the same mechanics found in Solaris. This is easily the 2600's answer to those needing an After Burner fix. It looks good, sounds good, uses dual joysticks (one stick is used to select weapons), plays good, and is just all around fun for hours on end. This on is probably one of the more rare red-label carts out there so if you find it I would suggest picking it up. Favorite Non-Game Cart One cart in my collection that is not a game at all is Basic Programming. The 2600 is interesting not only from a gaming point-of-view but also from a technical perspective. It's hard to believe a game console designed to do strictly tank and pong games showed that it could do so much more, often times surpassing what it was originally designed for. For the curious this cart would allow anyone with the enthusiasm and patients to write small programs for the 2600 to perform. While it doesn't unlock the full potential of the 2600's inner workings it does give a taste of what it's like to program the 2600. However, with the memory limitation, don't expect to write the next Adventure game as there simply isn't room. Also, once turned off any programs you've written are erased. Pencil and pad are your best friend. I use this one often just to toy around with the system. Kind of neat to see what can be done with it. Final Thoughts The 2600, no matter which model you own, has always been a small system with a big heart. Even the almighty six switch models are not that large. When taken down to just the heart of the system only a small footprint remains. Big things do sometimes come in small packages and the 2600 has proven time and time again that it is very capable of entertaining for hours on end. I still run across games that are just unbelievable in terms of what the developers managed to pull off. Again, here is a console designed for simple Pong and Tank style games. It was never designed to play Space Invaders, Galaxian, Gyruss, Pitfall!, or anything close to Space Shuttle...but it did those things and did them pretty well. Truthfully, the video game genres we have today have their roots dating back to the 2600. This is the console that started it all and it is still showing it can stand its ground against modern gaming hardware. And that, my friends, is no small achievement.
  2. 5 points
    Atari 5200 Guy

    Lunch Time With BurgerTime

    The almighty hamburger. A hot sandwich starting with a beef patty, topped with trimmings like lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese, and smothered with ketchup and mustard. A monetary staple for fast food drive-ins and a popular item to cook for some outdoor grillin'. It's also one of the easiest food items to cook where almost anything on it will compliment it. Almost. That is until you come across evil food. Hot dogs, eggs, and pickles are tired of being on the menu and have gone on strike! That is the formula it takes to have a little video game called BurgerTime. The object of the game is to guide a chef, named Peter Pepper, through various mazes. Each maze contains scattered ingredients that make up a hamburger which has to be assembled on plates at the bottom of the mazes. Making hamburgers should be easy, right? Wrong. To add salt to a wound our chef is constantly being hunted down by food whose only goal is to stop chef from completing his mission. The only weapon at your disposal is the almost empty pepper shaker that was grabbed at the last minute. For a simple sounding concept BurgerTime is anything but simple. One false move or turn will have our chef meet his demise instantly. And no matter which way our chef goes the food will not be far behind. Our chef gets very little no time to stop and get a heading on where everything is. Even stopping for a split second will end up with him being cornered with no where to run. Hit them with pepper and he can slide by. Catch one on a hamburger part when you make it fall will take that evil food with it for a long ride. Want an egg on your burger? Catch one between all the layers of the burger and it becomes part of the burger. Pick up the desserts and side items that pop up to gain extra pepper. Originally developed by Data East and released in North America by Bally/MIDWAY BurgerTime is one of those games that's a bit of an odd-ball. Out of all the video games made there hasn't been another game that has tried to imitate or use a similar formula that makes BurgerTime tick. My Arcade managed to cram all that into a miniature arcade cabinet that's as much fun to play as it is to look at. But is it any good? On the outside BurgerTime's cabinet contains artwork that is inspired by the original but not 100% accurate. For whatever reason the chef on the sides has an "H" on his hat where as the original chef on the real deal has a "P" for Peter Pepper. I'm not quite sure what the "H" is all about unless his name is Hamburger Harry. Maybe Peter got fired and Harry took his place? Your guess is as good as mine. At least all of the artwork fits together nicely. All of these My Arcade Micro Players made to date remind me of the NES standard controllers with a removable joystick handle. With that you have a D-Pad/joystick combo that tries to act as a four-way joystick from the arcades. The two smaller buttons are to Start and Reset the game. The Start button doubles as a pause button for times when you need a break. For some odd reason there are two pepper buttons. Well, should one button fail there is a back-up. Even though it uses the NES version of BurgerTime it's still a blast to play but BurgerTime on this unit is very unforgiving and very fast paced. Before you know it food will be on top of you in the blink of an eye. I have not managed to see if all the mazes from the arcade are here but I did manage to see five of them. Getting that far was not an easy task at all. Concentration is definitely the key to getting anywhere in this game. You can sometimes trick enemies to go one way while you take off in another direction. But not always. BurgerTime has its place in video game history as one of the most original and iconic designs of all time. No matter how unforgiving this game gets its addictive and hard to put down. It is for me anyway. We hear more about Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Centipede, Frogger, and other popular games from the same era than we hear about BurgerTime. And these attractable micro arcades I have found hard to resist. My only wish is that they would have used actual arcade ROMs. BurgerTime takes its place next to my other micro arcades where it will be enjoyed time and time again. Not a bad way to preserve some of the arcade games my generation grew up with.
  3. 5 points

    Post 000 - An Introduction

    Welcome to what I hope is the first of many entries in The Game Cave. 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
  4. 4 points

    Fire Call!

    I thought it may be interesting to share what happens when my pager goes off for a fire call. Thankfully, I've only had false alarms to respond to, aside from two minor car accidents. (Since October 2017). We average one call per week. Thankfully, most of them are during the day, but there have been the occasional middle of the night calls. (The pager also goes off for any ambulance calls, which I only assist if the EMTs need help lifting the stretcher onto the ambulance boat.) Technically, I only need to respond to every call while officially on call (we're split into teams that are on call for two weeks at a time, eliminating the need for 20 people to show up for a false alarm), but because I live so close to the fire house and that I want the practice of putting my gear on & driving the truck, I make it a point to go to every call. (Again, there's not that many calls, so it's no big deal.) The pager tones don't sound like Station 51's tones but it's still pretty startling when it goes off. Anyway, here's the video. Let me know if you have any questions!
  5. 4 points

    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.
  6. 3 points

    Dreamfall Chapters

    Dreamfall Chapters is an episodic adventure game developed by Red Thread Games and Published by Deep Silver. It came out for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, and Xbox One. It is apart of the game series The Longest Journey. ( I haven't played the previous games yet but I bought them recently) I discovered this game in 2018 and absolutely fell in love with it. From its Amazing Soundtrack. (Soundtrack YouTube) To its Beautiful Sci-Fi Futuristic level design and environment. (Which I enjoyed exploring every inch of) All the way to its core. Its Chose your own adventure style gameplay gives it a high replay value and its story is bound to take you on a rollercoaster of emotions. My friend and I played it roughly at the same time (He started playing a week after I did) and because of choices we made, we had different story's and even a different character. I give this game a 10/10. I have played it multiple times and have had fun every time. If you would like to watch my playthrough of it Click Here. ( Lightning Wolf Corp is a defunct thing I tried if you are curious about it maybe ill make a blog post) You can get the game for $20 on PlayStation and Xbox and $25 on steam. I hope you guys enjoyed my first review I decided not to go to much into the story as to avoid spoilers for those that want to play it. If you want to know more about the story here is the official Website.
  7. 3 points
    So it sucks having to put a mask on every time we go out. Sucks but important. There is no reason however we can't make it a little fun. STRONG LANGUAGE
  8. 3 points
    Welcome to the second "annex" entry of the Game Cave. In this entry, I'll discuss the PenguiNet game Rikki & Vikki for the Atari 7800. Rikki & Vikki was a surprise release on Steam (12/2018) and the 7800 in February 2019 from PenguiNet. Some of you may be familiar with PenguiNet for their amazing work on Zaku for the Lynx; arguably one of the best original titles on the platform. Zaku really pushed the Lynx and stands as a tremendously fun, graphically stunning and amazing sounding game. For Rikki & Vikki, PenguiNet continues in that tradition, delivering an original gaming experience on a classic console that largely exceeds Atari published efforts in key areas of gameplay, graphics and sound. Make no mistake - this is not a homebrew. This is a professionally developed game with a high level of production value and a stellar physical product. Now for some impressions & observations! Gameplay: Rikki & Vikki is a sort of puzzle platformer. The goal of the game is to save your two children - Mary & Sam - from Misery the Inconvenient. Misery has kidnapped your children and taken them to the six cavern Miseryland Themepark - "a downward spiral of inconvenience." On each level, use Rikki or Vikki to collect all of the keys within the time allotted to progress to the next level. Collecting keys isn't always easy. You have to move cubes, navigate enemies, spikes and other hazards to get to the keys. Some puzzles are more obvious than others and don't be surprised if you run out of time before solving a puzzle. Rikki & Vikki requires a 7800 compatible controller with independent fire buttons. This means that you can't use a standard 2600 controller or a Genesis gamepad for the game. The left button is used to "interact" with the cubes and the right button is used to jump. When you grab a cube you can throw it at an enemy or stick it to the floor or wall in order to gain access to an otherwise unreachable area of the play field. Falling into a void will cause you to re-emerge from the top - this is sometimes necessary to solve a puzzle. Each area of the Park - called "caverns" - consists of several levels and culminates in a boss battle. Gameplay modes come in three flavors: co-op with Rikki & Vikki, solo Rikki, and solo Vikki. I have not yet played co-op mode and from what I can tell, the solo experiences are the same whether playing as Rikki or Vikki. This is a hard game. You will die. You will run out of time. You will make stupid mistakes. You will get stuck. While you can continue, doing so forces a restart at the beginning of the cavern. Fortunately, after a few continues, a character named "Dut", a large penguin and "salesman" of you unlimited continues in exchange for your points. You will no longer get points in game - so no high score - but you will get to keep problem solving. This makes it a little less arduous to develop your skills and improve your puzzle solving strategies. Graphics: Rikki & Vikki boast what are possibly the best graphics on the 7800. The character animations, level-design, character and enemy sprites all look amazing. Add to that, the game runs in the 7800's 320 mode - a higher resolution mode that few games have taken advantage of. I struggle to think of a single game published for the 7800 that looks better. It looks first-party NES/SMS good folks. The animations are not just good, they're thoughtful and add depth to the game. The levels look great with coherent themes throughout. Its clear the people at PenguiNet are getting all they can out of the 7800. Sound: Like the graphics, PenguiNet went all in with the sound here. Apparently, they developed a custom chip for sound that allowed for NES level music. The TIA is still there and - at least on my 7800 - the harsh crashes are a bit louder than the music. However, that's my LHE mod and not the game. The music here is absolutely fantastic. Packaging: The packaging on this game is beautiful folks. Everything from the cart, to the box to the manual screams professional. The game comes on a custom transparent orange cart shell with a wrap around full color label. It fit my 7800 perfectly. The box is likewise full color and is in the same size and style as original run 7800 games - just missing "Atari." The instructions are full color and come as a "Miser Land Official Tour Guide" fold out with gameplay and character info. The package even comes with a warranty card, two passes to Misery Land and a PenguiNet sticker. Top notch all the way! Final Thoughts: This is 7800 gaming at its best. It has game design, graphics, sound and amazing packaging. If you own a 7800, I urge you to support the developer and grab a copy today. For $59.99 plus shipping, the package is well worth the price of entry. Even if you don't own a 7800 or don't have the $$, the game is also available on Steam for $9.99. For that price, you could hardly find a more fun and complete game play experience. Have you played Rikki & Vikki? What are your thoughts on the game? How does it stack up to other games on the 7800? PenguiNet Rikki & Vikki Trailer:
  9. 3 points
    Welcome to the first "annex" entry into the Game Cave. I'll post reviews of homebrews, community projects, and other goodies here. First up, my review of the Robotron 2084 controller for the Atari 7800 by Mike @RetroGameBoyz I ordered my controller last week after reading about it on the forums and received it on Friday. It was shipped in a plastic mailer with plenty of bubble-wrap for protection. As many of you know, the Atari 7800 version of Robotron can be played with either one or two controllers. With one controller, you can only shoot in the direction in which you are moving. Using a two controller configuration, the first controls the direction of movement and the second controls the direction of fire. Honestly, this is the best way to play Robotron 2084 and closely mirrors the experience of the arcade version. That said, as you can imagine, without a coupler, using two unsecured joysticks or gamepads can be difficult. This is where Mike's gamepad comes in. Using a 3D printed gamepad, modern style pad holder, dual d-pads and two 9-pin cables, the RetroGameBoyz Robotron 2084 controller allows you to play the game in the way that it's meant to be played. First impressions: The game pad itself is just about the size of an NES pad. In the optional holder, it's just a little larger than a Dual Shock 4 and is pretty comfortable. At first, I was worried that the square-ish shape of the holder would feel clunky. I'm happy to report that it actually feels quite nice and I don't anticipate taking the pad out of the holder. The parts have that "ridged" look that is typical of things made with a 3D printer. However, this isn't to say that it doesn't feel substantial. The build quality is legit and the controller responds nicely in all directions. I really like the custom sticker; it's a nice finishing touch. The two 9-pin cables are extra long, measuring 9 feet! No extension cables needed! Let's see how it plays: I really love the 7800 version of Robotron 2084, although I'm not that great at it. On the default "intermediate" setting, I can generally get up to wave 8 before giving up the ghost. Playing with one controller requires you to play in a defensive way. With the dual pad, I was able to get to wave 12 and score over 170,000 points. Being able to have independent directional control over both movement and fire allows you to play much more aggressively. Simply put, it's an entirely different - and better - game. The controller also includes independent fire buttons for use in other 7800 games. Its important to note, this works with the left pad only; the right pad isn't used outside of Robotron. I played Xevious, Choplifter, Centipede, Ms. PacMan and Food Fight to put the controller though its paces. I found it to be light, comfortable and responsive. The buttons seem to work correctly. The d-pads hit all of the directions accurately. After a solid two hours of gameplay, I didn't feel the least bit of fatigue in my hands. Compared to the Atari 7800 europad, this controller was at least as good if not better in most every respect. Final thoughts: The dual-pad Robotron 2084 controller for the Atari 7800 is a winner. It looks cool, plays great, can be used for more than just Robotron and - for $49 - is just about the best damn controller you can get for the 7800. I really like it and can see this becoming my goto for the 7800, 2600 and A8 although Mike has a single pad variant on offer via eBay. If you want more information on this controller, check out the original thread or visit Mike's eBay link: https://www.ebay.com/sch/retrogameboyz/m.html
  10. 3 points

    Auntie Em! Auntie Em!

    I already had Monday, October 29, 2018 circled on my calendar. It had been for months. That was the day for me to cash in my birthday present from 5 months prior. Tickets to see Metallica in concert, 26 years after I saw them for the first time. No band I had seen since then has been as good live (and I saw a lot, working as an usher in an arena, but that's a story for another day). I woke up at my normal time, a little after 7 AM. Before getting out of bed, I checked my email and hopped on social media to see if anything interesting was going on. It turns out there was! There were thunderstorms nearby and looking at the current radar, one may possibly hit me! Now, if you couldn't tell by my username, I'm a weather junkie. I've always been fascinated by crazy weather. The more extreme, the better. Hurricanes are by far my favorite type of weather, mainly because they're so rare by me. (Gloria in 1985 was my first, followed by Bob in 1991, lots of teases since then, with a couple of tropical storms in 2011 & 2012.) After that are blizzards & any kind of good snowstorm. Thunderstorms are also up there but I never see any real good ones. I've lived near the ocean for the majority of my life, Long Island Sound specifically. LIS does weird things for weather. In the winter, the ocean water is warmer than the air over the mainland and that warm air usually helps to keep snow amounts down. In the summer, the ocean is cooler than the surrounding air and that helps to remove instability, which translates into "no, or weak, thunderstorms". I'll watch storms on radar move over Connecticut & look like they're headed right for me. As soon as they get close, the marine influence destroys them. I'm usually lucky to hear a rumble or two of thunder. Now that I'm on an island in the middle of the sound, surrounded by water, these negative influences are magnified. As with anything, there are exceptions. If a snowstorm takes the right track & keeps me on the cold side of a storm, we can get a lot of snow. If a thunderstorm approaches me from the ocean rather than from land, the storms can hold together and pack a punch. Back to that October morning. I headed downstairs to prepare to get my dogs up and feed them, it started to thunder a bit. Then it REALLY rained. I stood by my picture window watching the rain runoff roll down the street like a river. I wasn't about to take the dogs out in that, so I went back upstairs to lay in bed for a bit. About 5 minutes later, my pager went off. There was a fire alarm activation at a home about a mile and half from me. Not a surprise, as I've learned in the past year as a volunteer firefighter, that any power disruption from a storm or anything else, tends to trigger fire alarms. I was already dressed, so off I went to the firehouse to respond. While I was there waiting for another member to join me (we only roll the trucks with two or more people) ANOTHER call came over the radio for the same thing. That struck me as VERY odd, seeing as we average one fire call per week. To have two calls within five minutes of each other was strange, but nothing that made me be overly suspicious. Someone else showed up and away we drove. We were responding to the first call, which was on the east end of the island, which is the private end. As we passed the gate house, the attendant stopped us to say that a neighbor of the home we were headed to had called down to say that her home had been hit by a tornado and that there were trees down everywhere. As someone who has been following weather phenomenon for a long time, I knew that anytime people see tree damage from a thunderstorm, they almost always say they were hit by a tornado, when in reality, it was a downburst, microburst or just really strong winds. That doesn't make the storm any less destructive, it's just not as sexy as saying you were hit by a tornado. Tornados are rare, ESPECIALLY where we were. In my 40+ years, I don't ever recall a tornado hitting my part of Connecticut (southeastern), let alone Fishers Island. So needless to say, I was quite dubious, even after we arrived at the house and saw all the tree damage. We quickly called off this call as a false alarm and tried to make it to the other home, which was also on the east end. The road I was going to take was blocked by downed trees. We tried to take a different road but that road was also blocked. Another member of the fire department was able to make it to the home and cleared that call as well. However, it was obvious that we had been hit pretty hard by that storm. Once I returned the fire truck, I headed back to where the initial call came in to survey the damage on foot and take some pictures. I had been in contact with a meteorologist from a Connecticut news station via Twitter. I let him know that there was significant damage on Fishers, but again, a tornado wasn't even a consideration at that point. I began walking east, over the downed trees that made the road impassable for us in the fire truck. There was some other damage, including a wooden fence knocked over & a garage door blown off, but nothing too spectacular. Then I noticed a very large tree uprooted and more trees down. At this point, all of the trees had fallen in the same direction, which again had me thinking that this was straight line wind damage. And then I began to look up, at the tops of the trees. There, I could see just the tops of some trees damaged, while the rest of the tree was intact. That now had me considering the possibility of a tornado, as that damage was different than what I had seen earlier. (Again, I'm an untrained eye, just someone who was very excited.) The road I was walking eventually comes out onto the main road that spans the island. I stayed on that road, headed east, when I ran into the utility company. There were wires down and a pole snapped. It was pretty remarkable and when I stopped to talk to the president of the utility company, he said it was worse farther up. We hopped in his truck and went to check it out. Once I saw that damage, I was no longer firmly in the not-a-tornado camp. There was little doubt in my mind. There was a stand of trees that had been shredded completely. It looked exactly like footage from a midwestern town that had been hit by a tornado. There was a shed that had been destroyed and just so many trees down. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I tried to update my meteorologist friend, but cell service out there was spotty. I couldn't wait to fill him in. I knew he would be just as excited as I was. The National Weather Service paid a visit to the island the following day and determined that we had in fact been struck by an EF-1 tornado. By that point, we all knew it, as a video capturing it had surfaced. Of course, I was in Albany for the concert, so I missed my chance to follow the NWS around while they checked out all the damage. However, I was happy to have been one of the first to realize what happened and grateful that I was on the island for it. My poor luck usually results in me missing something like this. Oh yeah, Metallica kicked ass again. 🤘 ---------- Fishers Island's Tornado News Report Some tweets as they happened in real-time, followed by some of my damage photos.
  11. 3 points

    In defence of emulation

    A common sentiment found among retro-computing enthusiasts is that there's nothing quite like the real thing. It's understandable, computers and game consoles (i.e., computers disguised as toys and appliances) are physical items and our happy nostalgic memories are complimented by recollections of touch and heft: the feedback of button clicks, shunting cartridges into slots, and so on. However, there's a particular aficionado - we've all met him, he's a member of every fan group and forum - whose affection for real hardware gives way to an unpleasant snobbery. A "true fan" would never emulate, he says, implying that a gaming community is only a place for those with disposable income, space, and a nihilistic acceptance that the platform will die with the original hardware. I'm certainly not arguing against the value of hardware and experiences which come with it, we're all in agreement of its importance, but I do insist that emulation is also a first class citizen without which a platform has no future. Ashes to hardware ashes Take the Atari Jaguar; fewer than 250,000 are known to have been produced, with even fewer numbers of accessories such as CD-ROM drives. Of that number a great deal will have been owned by people with no interest in preservation. Many Jaguars have likely been dumped in the trash along with an avalanche of VCRs. Of the survivors many will suffer electrical faults due to old-age (the dreaded open-circuit capacitor problem). Many more will simply be damaged in accidents. This is already a serious problem for CD-ROM units which were produced in much smaller numbers than the console itself and are notoriously failure prone - although, arguably, no more so than other CD-ROM drives from the time. Taking the long view there will be a time when, for most people, original hardware will no longer be a viable way to access the content produced for the platform! New developments This is perhaps the strongest argument in favour of emulation. New content is vital for a platform and emulation is key to lowering the barrier in producing new content. In the late 70s it took highly skilled programmers with excellent design sense (a very select cross-section of personality) months to produce new games for the Atari 2600 using mainframe computers costing thousands of dollars. Today, a cheap PC with the Stella emulator, which includes an excellent debugger and the ability to step through program execution and inspect the emulated Atari's emulated state. Imagine what those original Atari and Activision programmers could have achieved in an afternoon with such capabilities! Imagine what today's programmers, of all kinds of skill levels, can achieve! A more thoughtful perspective I highly recommend that anybody with an interest in retro-gaming listen to Frank Cifaldi's GDC talk on the subject of emulation. It's witty, thought-provoking and quite brilliant. There's a lot to unpack, but in under an hour he touches on numerous relevant subjects such as preservation, the ethics of piracy, and how emulation can be leveraged in the most positive (and commercial!) ways:
  12. 3 points
    I love taking something old and giving it new life. That said when it is a creation from someone else past it can be a bit touchy. Anxiety on red alert. This kit was someones work of art, their creative outlet in the time in witch it was created. No matter, some things need to be restored and given new life. I am more than happy to do so. In fact it's an honor. Someone its giving you something VER PERSONAL regardless if they feel so or not. Regardless of the extent I do or do not put my spin on a restoration I try to retain something, even a small part of what was there to start with. Thanks to @btbfilms76 for entrusting me with small slices of your childhood, even if you do not take it as serious as I do.
  13. 3 points
    I'm just going to put this right out there without any introduction (I'll save that for another related article) and pick the 10 games I play most on the 7800 in the small collection I have which is now at 16 games. We start with number 10. 10. Centipede Mom's favorite...but on the 5200. She tried playing the 7800 version when I got the system and a few games for Christmas around 1990. I have to admit that even though it gets more play time than others it doesn't quite capture everything I enjoy about the 5200 version. Never the less the 7800 Centipede is a rock-solid title full of all the bug killing envy anyone would wish to do. It's very colorful, sounds are OK, controls are done well. Visuals are a bit different than the 5200 version but once the game play starts the difference is quickly overlooked. And Spidey still needs to go decaf. 9. Dark Chambers Dark Chambers was Atari's attempt at making a Gauntlet clone without having to pay for a license. That's my opinionated theory about Dark Chambers. This adventure game features levels that are lettered from A to Z giving the game over 20 levels to explore and conquer. Graphics look good, sounds are appropriate, levels are colorful, controls are solid, and the enemies can be a handful. Along the way the player gets to pick up items to help maintain health, increase weapon power, and a few other things. No 7800 player should be without this game in their library. This game is also on the 2600 and XEGS/A8 computers. 8. Choplifter I have to admit that my first encounter with Choplifter was with Sega's remake of the game for its Master System. When I played Choplifter on the 7800 for the first time a few years ago I was taken by surprise how much more basic the game was. But this is the way the game was originally designed and not the way Sega did it. This game can be challenging and unforgiving to those who don't know what to expect. Very colorful, sounds are awesome, controls are very responsive. Watch out for those tanks while rescuing people, though, as they can take you down in no time. 7. Xevious Xevious was originally not one of my favorites mainly because I had no clue what I was suppose to do or if there was an end to it. But the more I played it the more I enjoyed the game. And the only way I ever played the game was on the 7800. Sounds are really good with great control options and visuals are impressive. It's hard for me to not spend hours on this game once I decide I want to play it. The only downfall is if the standard 7800 controller is the only controller option available Xevious can cause cramps in a matter of minutes. For this game I recommend a game pad of some sort or even splurge on the 7800's EuroPad controller. Those are way better options for this game than what the 7800 came with in the USA. 6. Robotron: 2084 I'm just going to call it Robotron for short. Robotron remains the one game on the system that can showcase its graphical power. While it is a simple game there is so much going on that it can be considered a chaotic madhouse. Seriously, there's all kinds of things going on to distract the player and yet the 7800 never slows down or breaks a sweat. It is games like this that made the 7800 different from the other consoles of the time. Sounds, graphics, and controls are spot-on in my opinion. Great game. Pick it up if found. 5. Food Fight Food Fight was one I questioned as soon as I unwrapped it that Christmas morning I got a 7800. It was the last one I tried but easily became a favorite. It would have had a lot more game play if not for the hand cramps caused by the standard 7800 controllers. Even then it remains hard to put down. There's something fun about throwing food at chefs. It never gets old. And if a round is played great the game treats with an instant replay. The only game I know to do this. I've also noticed that after playing a game it will use that instant replay for a demonstration until the system is turned off. Good graphics, sounds, and controls are good. 4. Commando Out of the NES and 7800 versions of this game I prefer the 7800. It simply performs better in my opinion. It's also seems a bit easier to play than the NES version. Graphics and sounds are amazing and the controls are responsive. If there was a game made to showcase how much better the 7800 could be over the NES I would put this game on that list. If this is missing from a 7800 player's game library keep an eye out for it. This one should not be missed. 3. Galaga Some may question this game being high on this list but this is one of the most-played games on my 7800. This was also the first game I tried that Christmas morning I unwrapped a 7800. I prefer Galaxian over Galaga but I enjoy this game the most on the 7800. The game play starts out easy but after awhile the game really speeds up which increases the challenge factor. Graphics are good, sounds are OK, controls are good. A solid 7800 title no 7800 owner should be without. This is a common title so it should be easy to find. 2. Ms. Pac-Man Out of all of the ports of the queen of video games I've played the 7800 port of Ms. Pac-Man is probably the only one that is the closest to the arcade. The sounds are amazing considering they are coming from the 2-channel limitations of TIA, even surpassing the same game on the 2600. The colors are right, the graphics are detailed, the ghost AI is spot-on, and the speed is just right. This is the only title on the 7800 I can enjoy playing using the standard 7800 controller without much fatigue. And the most played game on my 7800 is ... (drum roll)... 1. Asteroids Asteroids on the 7800 is the most played game in my library. I just can't get enough of those 3D-like boulders and the small space sounds that randomly call out. And lots of memories playing this game on two-player with a friend where we would just fly around in every direction to see how long we could last without shooting anything. We would always laugh out loud when we would collide with an asteroid flying full speed. Who said you had to play by the rules? I absolutely love the graphics and sounds in this game and it is a 40-plus year old concept that never gets old. There's just something mesmerizing about blowing up asteroids and alien saucers. And that ends my top 10 7800 games. I like every game I have for the 7800 but these are the ones I go to the most. I'm not big on Donkey Kong or his son and I'm not that interested in sports although I find Hat Trick a fun, if not supped up, version of Pong even if it is suppose to be hockey. And Ballblazer? A LOT of fun with that game...I simply lack that game in my library. I'm sure as I acquire more games for the system that what gets played the most may change. But no matter what when I think about the 7800 I immediately think about Asteroids.
  14. 3 points

    Before & After

    As a young kid spending time on Fishers Island (my current home), I was fascinated with the natural history of the island. The main focus of my attention was on the area of the island that used to be the home of Fort H.G. Wright. Fort Wright was part of the coastal defense network & protected the eastern part of Long Island Sound. It was active from 1898 through 1947. I loved playing in and around the gun pits (the cannons were long gone) and other buildings, including lookout towers, etc. I REALLY became interested when I saw old photos and postcards of the same buildings I saw now back when they were in their heyday. Since that time, I’ve collected those old postcards & photos. A good friend of mine gave me a photo of Officers Row (the top photo in the below comparison). Officers Row is extra special to me as the first house I ever stayed in on Fishers was one of these houses. After the fort closed, the US government sold off many buildings at reasonable prices, with the condition that they must be restored (or at least made presentable). A decade of neglect had many of the buildings in disrepair. Sadly, a lot of buildings fell to the wrecking ball. My father’s brother in law & his brother purchased one of the houses (located on the right side in the photos below). By the time I was born in 1973, the house was restored & this is where we stayed when we visited. In fact, one of the very first memories I have, period, was sleeping in a crib in this house. Anyway, here’s a comparison of a photo taken sometime in the 1910s and taken from the same spot today, April 19, 2019. And if you want to know what my uncle’s house looks like on the inside, here you go: https://shuttersandsails.com/listing/parade-grounds-cottage/ (my father’s brother-in-law ended up selling his share to his brother & moved on to bigger & better houses on Fishers (stories for future blog posts), but his brother (my uncle by marriage) still owns the house today.) **I forgot to mention that the house on the far left in the top image was either demo’ed or burned down years ago. I’ve never laid eyes on it. I have a good story about the house that's straight-ahead in the photos. When I was young staying next door, the woman who lived there made THE BEST vanilla milkshakes. She was an author & you may recall my story I shared with @VicSage about a woman who was an old-time radio personality. http://fishersisland.net/memoriam-patricia-hosley-kibbe/
  15. 3 points

    008 - Zoop!

    Zoop Published: 1995 by Viacom Designed by Hookstone, Ltd. Jaguar Version: Electric Spectacle Productions, Ltd. Zoop is one of those games that no one seemed to ask for but was nonetheless pushed out to nearly every platform on the market. Billed as "America's Greatest Killer of Time!", this puzzler appeared on Gameboy, Game Gear, SNES, Genesis, PlayStation, Saturn, Macintosh, Windows, and our own beloved Jaguar. The ads were EVERYWHERE. This was a game that was scientifically proven to be so addictive that you would lose your mind. This was Viacom's Tetris and we were all going to be glued to the screen. As I indicated in Post 000, one of the reasons that I'm doing this blog is to play some of the least played titles in my collection. Prior to this review, I had never played Zoop. I picked it up in a lot of sealed commons about six years ago and never even opened it. In fact, it is the only game in my Jaguar collection that I had never booted up. UNTIL NOW. Is Zoop the addictive puzzler it was advertised to be? Did it drive me cuckoo bananas? Was it worth ripping off the cellophane? Read on to find out! Gameplay: On the face of it, Zoop is a simple puzzler. The goal of the game is to eliminate colored shapes marching toward a square box in the center of the screen using a color matching game mechanic. You control a triangle that resides within this center square. The square itself is 4 rows tall by 4 columns wide. Blue, purple, green and orange shapes approach the center square from all four sides along sixteen different pathways. As new shapes appear, the earlier shapes will be pushed one space closer to the center square. If a shape gets to the center square, it's GAME OVER! To stave off your inevitable demise, the player uses the d-pad to move the triangle within the center square, targeting the shapes. Pressing the action button sends your triangle hurtling at blurring speed into the shapes. If you hit a shape that is the same color as your triangle, you'll eliminate that shape. If multiple shapes of the same color are stacked together, you can eliminate the whole lot for a score multiplier. If you hit a shape that is a different color as the triangle, you will swap colors with that shape without eliminating it. This can be used strategically to build stacks and improve your score. There are also a few power ups which come in handy. Control is tight and responsive. This is critical as you progress through each level. Speaking of levels, Zoop offers two game modes: Continual and Level. In Continual mode, the shapes on the board remain as you progress through each level without pause. In Level mode, the game field is cleared of shapes with each completed level. I preferred to play Level mode. Graphics: The graphics in Zoop are unremarkable. The player sprite is a simple triangle. Likewise, the approaching shapes are rudimentary blobs of color. There is minimal animation. The play field changes with each level. For some levels, the color combination is more interesting than others. That said, it's clear that they were going for a certain vibe with this game and stuck to it. Could it have used a little more graphic flare? Probably. But that isn't really the point. As it is, the game is bright and colorful and does the job. Sound/Music: The music in Zoop is sorta like "smooth jazz." It is calming and the tempo doesn't change as the pace of the game quickens. While competent, the music seems to be at odds with the gameplay. There are audio alerts if the shapes border the center square. Additionally, your triangle makes noise when moving or eliminating shapes. Overall: Zoop is a decent puzzle game. The few hours that I spent with it were enjoyable. The simple graphics and gameplay mechanic works well and control was what it should be. Was it as addictive as Viacom claimed? Not in the least. While I could see myself picking it up again, it was very easy to put it down. No one is going to miss sleep or be late to work over this one. At least I still have a firm grip on reality! Final Verdict: The Jaguar has few puzzlers and, in that way, Zoop fills a certain niche. If you like the genre, consider Zoop. Thanks for reading and please share your memories and thoughts on Zoop in the comments below! The next game is: Syndicate
  16. 3 points

    006 - White Men Can't Jump

    White Men Can't Jump Published 1995 by Atari Developed by High Voltage Software White Men Can't Jump (WMCJ) is an Atari Jaguar exclusive developed by High Voltage Software and published by Atari in 1995. The game shipped with the Jaguar Team Tap peripheral for four player action. WMCJ is loosely based on the 1992 movie of the same name, which stars Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes as street basketball hustlers. As in the movie, players play pick-up basketball for cold hard cash on the mean streets of early-90s Los Angeles County. Otherwise, the license is wholly wasted as neither character is mentioned in the game. WMCJ is notorious as one of the worst games in the Jaguar library. For many Jaguar owners, it tops that list. So, does WMCJ deserve the hate? Or is it, as the manual claims, "the most hyped up, monster jammin', bruisin' elbows, rebound snatchin', rim stuffin', skying over suckers, down your throat, money making game of street ball you never thought possible?" Let's plug WMCJ into the big cat and see what it's all about! Gameplay: WMCJ is a two-on-two basketball game, in which players play half court ball in a semi-3D perspective. There are two game modes: Vs. mode and Tournament mode. In Vs. mode, up to four players can play using the Team Tap. In Tournament Mode, up to two players take on the best street ball duos in L.A. with the hope of making it to the Slam City Tournament at the Inglewood Forum. At the start of the game, you take out a loan from a couple of loan sharks for money to bet. You have to win enough to make the $5,000 entry fee and pay the sharks back - or else! Game progress is saved through the use of one of three save keys - represented by actual keys. Playing the game is fairly straightforward. You use the d-pad to move, and the Jaguar controller's three main action buttons to pass/punch, jump/shoot, or for speed boost. The action triggered depends on whether or not you have control of the ball. The buttons are customizable from the options menu. Wait a minute, back up. Did I just write "pass/punch"? I sure did. This is street ball, so punching is front and center. Want to steal a ball or block a dunk? Just punch your opponent. It's perfectly acceptable. In addition to the violence, each character also has a "super dunk", which can be pulled off with a combination of movements. I have to say, pulling off a super dunk is pretty magical. Action response seems a bit slow, with blocking jumps coming just after a shot, punches thrown late and shots taken a few steps after you intended. Also, the computer controlled characters pass like pros but - frustratingly - I could never quite get the hang of it. Additionally, due to the semi-3D perspective of the game, it can be hard to tell what's going on at times. All of this combines to make WMCJ less fluid and enjoyable than it could be. Graphics: WMCJ uses an interesting art style to say the least. The game employs 2D sprites in a semi-3D perspective. The game uses sprite scaling to provide a sense of depth on the court. A dynamic camera follows the action. The camera movement is fast and can confuse the onscreen action. Words and phrases like "Bangin", "Take it back", "Airball", "Money" and "You gets none" appear on the screen in rapid succession. These use colorful fonts in full 90s glory. This can be a bit jarring and distracts somewhat from the gameplay. Fortunately, this feature can be switched off. The player characters appear to be digitized from real photos like Kasumi Ninja, but unlike Kasumi, these digitizations are in fairly low resolution. It's an interesting look, if a bit muddy. The characters themselves are generic and their design doesn't show a lot of creativity. From a player's perspective, I really have no reason to pick the "Urban Angels" over the "Dunkin' Demons", or vice versa. They just aren't terribly memorable or distinctive. This may be unfair, as other games benefit from team/player licensing. That said, even if a lot of players feel the same, playing as your favorite NBA star does make you feel a bit more engaged. The game environments are darker than they could be. To my mind, all the match-ups seem to be held at dusk. In sunny Los Angeles County, would it have killed them to make a really bright level? It was the 90s, so maybe they were trying to evoke smog. Also, no LBC? WTF. Otherwise, I generally like the look and feel of the courts. Between the dynamic camera, digitized character models, sprite scaling, onscreen text and other effects, there is a lot going on here. Unfortunately, it's just a little too taxing and the framerate suffers for it. Action can seem stuttered and the animations are anything but fluid. This doesn't break WMCJ, it just makes it less fun than other two-on-two basketball titles. Sound/Music: Sound and music are a strong point of WMCJ. Unlike some Jaguar games, WMCJ features full audio, including in-game music, decent sound effects and heavy voice sampling. The in game music is well done but some of it seems a bit out of place for the game setting. One would expect more of a late-80s to early-90s hiphop sounds. Instead, we get some weird jazz music. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think the "Dis Masters" are playing jazz on their boom box while taking on the "3pt. Kings" in Compton. The voice over sampling is quality, if somewhat repetitive. I would like to hear a little more varied trash talk. The sound effects are what you'd expect from a basketball game, with swooshes that are sufficiently swooshy. Overall: WMCJ is a strange two-on-two basketball game. While its clear the developers were trying very hard, it is definitely a case of style over substance. I enjoyed some of the 90s quirkiness and it is truly unique. That said, there are better basketball games out there - even on the Jaguar. Sports games require a certain responsiveness and fluidity of action that WMCJ just doesn't have. This makes it a missed opportunity. Note: While this write-up has focused on the single player game, I want to add that this is tremendously fun with four players. People just really can't believe what they're seeing and it makes for a lot of laughs. A few years ago, I had a "Dads' Day of Atari" and someone picked this out. It was the loudest we laughed all afternoon. WMCJ itself isn't great, but it definitely has a so bad it's good quality that's best enjoyed with friends. Final Verdict: WMCJ is another odd edition to the Jaguar library. It is far from the worst game on the system but pales in comparison to the excellent Jaguar conversion of NBA Jam TE. If you find it cheap with the Team Tap, you might consider giving it a try. Four player Vs. mode is probably worth the price of admission. Besides, you can use the Team Tap on NBA Jam. Thanks for reading and please share your memories and thoughts on WMCJ in the comments below! Do you think it ranks as the worst game on the Jaguar? Or do you agree with me that it can be so bad that it's good? The next game is:Super Burnout
  17. 3 points

    005 - Robinson's Requiem

    Robinson's Requiem Published 2011 by Songbird Productions Developed by Silmarils Sofware Robinson's Requiem is a combination first person adventure and point and click survival game. The player is Trepliev1, a Robinson space explorer from Alien World Exploration (AWE) who becomes stranded on the planet Zarathustra. With minimal equipment, you set out to explore the planet and survive various hazards. These include other Robinsons, natives, and a generally hostile environment. Robinson's Requiem saw release in the mid-90s on a variety of computer platforms including the Atari ST, the Atari Falcon, the Commodore Amiga and the PC. The game was also released on the 3DO. The Jaguar port of Robinson's Requiem was released by Songbird Productions in 2011. For those not familiar with Songbird, the company is run by Carl Forhan and specializes in the completion and release of "lost games" for the Atari Jaguar and Atari Lynx. Robinson's Requiem is one such title. Advertised on the back of the Jaguar CD packaging, the game was essentially complete when Atari ceased support of the Jaguar platform in 1996. Years later, Carl rescued the game and licensed it from the developers for release. Like all Songbird releases, the game has professional packaging on par with Atari's commercial Jaguar releases. So, how does Robinson's Requiem stack up? Let's take a stroll on Zarathustra to find out! Gameplay: The computer roots of Robinson's Requiem are clearly evident in the game's control scheme. The player uses the d-pad to move a cursor on the screen to search an area or body, pick up and use items, or access options from the ever present icon panel and "Sesame" screen. The Jaguar 9-key pad is used to move across Zarathustra's sprite-based landscape. The control scheme is anything but intuitive and would likely be better suited for a keyboard and mouse. That said, after an hour or so of roaming, I got the hang of it. The game is light on action. I quickly encountered two other Robinsons and had to kill both of them. The first, a man by the name of Socrates19, warned me - via an FMV sequence - that it was "every man for himself", that I was in his sector and that I needed to get lost or else. He went down with a few awkward punches which were activated by clicking on the weapons icon, selecting the fist icon and pressing "B." If that sounds laborious, that's because it is. It's very clunky and unresponsive. Searching Socrates' body revealed a treasure trove of equipment, including a survival knife, matches, battery and gourd. These can be used later in combination with other items to fight (knife), build a fire (matches) or get water. The second Robinson, a man named Darwin5, seemed pleasant enough at first but by the end of his FMV inexplicably turned into a werewolf. Moving around the game's environment was less than thrilling. I found myself hitting dead ends and getting stuck in crevices of the world map. There is an overhead map but I didn't find it very helpful. As it is, Socrates and Darwin5 were the only souls that I encountered in my time with the game. Zarathustra, garden spot that it is, seems oddly devoid of life. One of the more interesting gameplay mechanics is "manufacture". You can select items that you have scavenged and combine them to make a tool. For example, I used a branch and wire form the wreckage of my ship to make a noose. While crafting is commonplace in many of today's games, it is surprisingly deep for a 90s adventure. I have no doubt more useful tools are available but I didn't get that far into the game. In two hours I managed to kill the only two people I met, fill up my water gourd, boil said water, slice leaves and branches from trees, find some food and give myself food poisoning. Speaking of food poisoning, another action is a medical scan. Activating medical scan will let you check your overall health and determine what is wrong, the seriousness of the illness and treatment options provided you have the medicine. Like the manufacture feature, I found the need to scan and treat illnesses to be a nice touch. Graphics: Graphically, Robinson's Requiem is a mis-mash. Like other early CD-rom games, the developers were perhaps trying too hard to use all that the new medium had to offer. At start-up, the game treats the player to some classic 90s CG rendered video. The intro sequence is lengthy and sets up your mission and crash landing on Zarathustra. Once you take control, the game switches to a first person perspective. The game world is made of sprite-based textures. They are very muddy and do not look good at all. Pop-up is horrible and every few minutes there is a slight pause in the action to load a new area of the map. The landscape is dotted with trees that seem like paper cutouts and you are surrounded by mountains. When you do come upon another Robinson, they appear as a generic human shaped sprite. Upon approach, you'll be treated to grainy FMV typical of CD consoles of the day. Acting is sub-B movie level. On the bright side, the fire animation was well done as is the icon panel and health status scan. I also quite enjoyed Darwin5's lupin transformation. Sound/Music: The sound in Robinson's Requiem is ok. When there is music, it's well done. The in game sounds also set the tone for a hostile planet with gurgling water and animal noises. You also make noise when you're sick or fighting. Overall: You can probably tell by now that I didn't much care for Robinson's Requiem. Anytime a player spends more than an hour walking around without encountering in-game action, it's a problem. Zarathustra was simply much too ugly and desolate to keep my interest. Final Verdict: Robinson's Requiem strikes me as a game that is ambitious in concept but poor in execution. It strives to give the player a new kind of gaming experience but ultimately falls flat. This one is for the serious Jaguar collector only. If you're not a completionist, pass. Thanks for reading and please share your memories and thoughts on Robinson's Requiem in the comments below! I'm particularly interested in hearing from anyone who enjoyed this or another version of the game. The next game is: White Men Can't Jump
  18. 3 points
    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.
  19. 2 points
    This January I finally completed my North American Nintendo Game Boy launch lineup. I have said in the past that I have been collecting games for the original Game Boy since August of 2015, though that's only half-true. In August 2015 I bought my first DMG Game Boy game on 3DS Virtual Console. Not a physical cartridge, though since I did pay money for it, it sort of counts in my eyes. The first game I got on 3DS was not any of the GB NA launch games, rather it was a very late release, Game and Watch Gallery. Later in September I bought the amazing Metroid II: Return of Samus (Lots of backstory about that game) and Super Mario Land, the latter being a launch game. I didn't get a means of playing official Game Boy cartridges until Christmas Eve of 2016 when I got my Super Game Boy. Earlier in August while on vacation at Blue Harbor in Sheboygan, WI we were shopping at the only retro game store I knew of at the time. I believe it was called Freaktoyz or something. Anyways they had an SGB there for $15, the exact amount of money I had brought with me on vacation. I was seriously considering it. My dad used to have an original Game Boy in college that my mom sadly threw out in the early 2000's. I assumed he had some of his original games with him still somewhere in the house. I had been on the lookout for them for years since I have always been fascinated by the original Game Boy. I was pretty sure they were somewhere, but as I had been snooping around for them for years at this point I didn't want to risk it, so I opted for StarTropics on NES instead. I kid you not, two days later we were cleaning the basement and what did I find? A cloth bag thing filled with Game Boy games. I couldn't believe it. I had been looking for these for years, and right after I saw a Super Game Boy I found them! Only one of the games my dad remembered wasn't there, that being Centipede and Millipede. I assumed that one was in the Game Boy when my mom threw it out. But all of the other games were there. Here are all of the ones I remember being there: Tetris Baseball Play Action Football Sports Illustrated Golf The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening F-1 Race So right off the bat I had two of the launch lineup. Plus at that point I had Super Mario Land on 3DS. I didn't get another physical Game Boy cartridge until last year because I was never around any game stores (or at least I didn't think I was), but I did get a few more games on the VC, including Tennis. When I discovered my new regular game store, Game Trade in DePere, WI, I had recently gotten a Game Boy Advance system and was getting in to collecting for the Game Boy DMG, Color, and Advance, though mostly the OG. I had gotten some money for Christmas to fuel my collecting. Some of the first games I got were games I had loved on the 3DS VC and wanted to play them on somewhat original hardware. In the clearance bin I saw a very beat up copy of Tennis, so I decided to pick that up. I had enjoyed the game quite a bit on the 3DS and since it was so cheap, why not? When I got home I got on the list for a physical cartridge of Super Mario Land. That was the last physical cartridge I picked up, but today's game, Alleyway, was the last of the GB launch lineup I actually played. I picked that up on maybe my second or third Game Store run for five bucks. Anyway, let's actually talk about Alleyway. Alleyway was a launch title for the original Game Boy in North America, Europe, and Japan. Here in the states it launched in 1989. Alleyway is a breakout-style game. Note that I did not say Arkanoid style game. Though this game came out several years after Taito's 1986 classic Arkanoid, which heavily expanded upon the format seen in Atari's Breakout and Super Breakout. Arkanoid added things such as powerups, weapons, and enemies to the mix. Alleyway does away with many of these, though it is still obvious that it was inspired by Arkanoid. For instance, each level is distinct in its layout. Super Breakout had some distinction, but that game did it very differently. Super Breakout's level design was much simpler in comparison and a lot less varied. Plus, to my knowledge you couldn't progress from level to level like you could in Arkanoid and Alleyway. I believe if you beat, say, the cavity screen for instance, you didn't transition to the progression or regular Breakout screens. At least I don't think you could. I've never been very good at the arcade version of Super Breakout or on any home system. Like Arkanoid and the earlier Breakout games, different shades of blocks earn you different amounts of points. In this case, the darker the shade of puke-green the more points you will get. The darker blocks also increase the speed of your ball, though it is nowhere near as noticeable as it is in some other block-breaking games. Also like the original Breakout, starting on the fifth stage, if your ball hits the top of the screen, your paddle will shrink in size.There are also some indestructible blocks in the game like those seen in Arkanoid. In short, Alleyway is like a midpoint between Super Breakout and Arkanoid. The game's progression consists of three stages using the same basic structure followed by a timed bonus stage. The four-level setup is reminiscent of the world layout of the original Super Mario Brothers on the NES. The first level in an Alleyway "world" is a basic level with nothing going on. The blocks stay still for this level. On the second stage they wrap around the screen horizontally. In this mode it is easy to get the ball stuck in a pattern and wipe out many bricks at once. The third stage appears to not move at first, but occasionally the blocks will descend another step towards your paddle. Nothing bad happens if they reach the bottom; they just disappear. This mode is a straight ripoff of the progression mode in Super Breakout. The fourth mode, as I previously mentioned, is a timed bonus stage. These stages feature cameos of Super Mario characters and items in block form. The player has about a minute (in real time; the seconds on the clock move way too fast) to clear out the entire field. This is much easier than it sounds; the blocks disappear in a Breakthrough style. Though it still can be a little challenging at times. The game sessions in Alleyway tend to last pretty long as I can play for quite a while without Game Over-ing. The sound and music in this game are quite nice. This early Game Boy title takes full advantage of the stereo headphone jack, providing some great musical ditties. The title theme especially gets stuck in my head. I also enjoy jingles between levels, before the bonus stage, and during the bonus stage. I really dig the music in this game. The sounds are your typical Breakout sounds. The Game Boy tries its best to provide an echo effect on some of the block-breaking sounds. I thoroughly enjoy the music and sound in this game and highly recommend using headphones while playing. The packaging of the game is also very cool. I like the behind the paddle perspective and the stellar color palate. It really gives of that intergalactic vibe. I don't know what it was with Breakout games and outer space. Super Breakout was about the interstellar adventures of... was it Captain Jack Chang? I remember it was Captain something Chang. Arkanoid also has a space theme, where you control the spacecraft Vaus jettisoned from the mothership Arkanoid after it was destroyed and caught in a space warp. This game appears to take place in outer space as well, though with a twist. The pilot of the spacecraft is none other than our man Super Mario. Or maybe just Mario, as the opening cutscene of the game shows a sprite of Mario hopping into the paddle that appears to resemble his pre-Super Mario Brothers appearance. He looks like a bootleg version of himself. Oh, early Game Boy graphics with your tiny, creepy little sprites... Game Theory time: What if this game was the inspiration for Super Mario Galaxy? I mean, they both take place in space. Maybe that's a bit of a stretch. Even when this game was first released in 1989 it was an incredibly basic and simple take on the genre. It didn't have the little nuances that made Arkanoid so great. It didn't even have a single powerup in it. If this game were released at any other time than at the very start of the first mainstream portable game system's life, it would have been laughable. But the Game Boy was a new concept for most people. Sure, the Microvision and Adventurevision predated the Game Boy by several years, and the former predated it by a good decade, but those consoles were for the most part failed attempts at bringing the console and arcade experience on the go. Plus, I feel that Alleyway was a good way at getting more casual non-gamers to play the Game Boy. Compared to the NES, Nintendo's handheld system offered a much more all-inclusive experience with typically easier and simpler game experiences. Tetris sold many systems to the non-gamer crowd, and Alleyway probably had a few copies bought by those Tetris players. So why play Alleyway now? This game has nothing to set it apart from the crowd. There are much more complicated and engaging Breakout style games out there nowadays, so why pick this one? I'll tell you why: The controls. In all of my life, I have never played a better controlling Breakout style game that uses a D-Pad. The controls this game has are second only to the paddle controllers seen on the 2600 and other potentiometer-based knob or dial controller. The control you have over the game's paddle is exceptional. I have played many other Breakout games with digital-style controllers, like Arkanoid on NES, 1001 Blockbusters for DSiWare, and others, but nothing comes close to controlling better than this game. The paddle moves at the absolute perfect speed for the game. It's honestly hard to explain how good it feels; you need to play the game yourself. If the paddle's base speed is too fast or too slow for you, never fear. The face buttons are here! In this game, the A button will "accelerate" the paddle while the B button will "break". That's how I remember their functions. Though I don't often use the face buttons in the game, they can come in handy in the later levels. So how would I rate this game out of ten for the system it's on. Sadly, I have to put it pretty low as there are so many better games on the system like Metroid II, Link's Awakening and Super Mario Land 2. If I had to I would probably rate it a 6/10. The game is really good, but there are so many other games on the Game Boy that are better. Though I rated it somewhat low, I still recommend picking it up. It's not in very high demand. The controls are exceptional enough to make the purchase worth it. The controls alone turn this game from yet another boring Breakout clone I played to one of my favorites in the genre. All in all, Alleyway is a game I love to "Breakout" and play a few rounds of from time to time.
  20. 2 points
    Atari Creep

    BYO Gonk Droid

    So recently I was in talks with a fellow maker, he had asked if I would be willing to make a trade once I finish one of my soon to come figures. I looked over his shop and noticed he sold one of his figures in a kit form. I inquired about maybe doing a toy art swap where I sent him a raw casting of one of my figures and he would send me one of his. Here is the build video of that trade. STRONG LANGUAGE!
  21. 2 points
    Video 61


    Hi and welcome to Lance’s Laboratory! This is the first post of what will be my personal blog sharing small slices of life with you from within my Lab. For those of you who are just getting to know me for the first time, my name is Lance, I’m from Minnesota, and for nearly 40 years I’ve been in the Atari business operating Video 61, one of the last surviving original retail Atari distributors. We started in the video business as a local chain of video rental stores serving the Twin Cities area with locations along U.S. Highway 61, the road that musician Bob Dylan referred to in the album and song Highway 61 Revisited. I also love classic movies and spending time with my family and friends at my cabin up north. For decades I’ve gotten to know you guys as my customers and friends, buying, selling and remanufacturing Atari systems, games, software, and computers, and developing my own line of Atari-compatible Video 61 games and controllers. I’m still in my Lab working away dreaming up new creations and shipping off new original Atari products, and I thought after all these years of being in the Atari community it was time to start sharing tidbits of Minnesota life with you here on my blog. To old friends and new, WELCOME! - Lance
  22. 2 points
    Atari 5200 Guy

    It's a SMURFING Day

    The SMURFS. Arguably one of the most popular cartoon icons of the 1980's. These little blue people took America, if not the world, by storm literally overnight. Once the cartoon aired it wasn't long before stores started loading down their shelves with everything from lunch boxes, vinyl records, figurines, dinnerware, posters, and many other items too numerous to mention. Seriously, anything you could think of to put SMURFS on was available. The Saturday morning cartoon series ran a full 9 seasons (1981-1989) containing 256 episodes. I loved the SMURFS. Even Atari couldn't keep me from watching my favorite Saturday morning cartoon show. The Atari was on from about 6 until the SMURFS came on which was usually about 9. The first shows aired for about 30 minutes in my area. After the SMURFS I usually tried to watch Saturday Supercade on another channel if it was coming in good. If not then back on went the Atari. I would pick up SMURF items during the show's run. I had lots of figurines but never could find a Papa Smurf. I had three of the full-length LP vinyl albums and enjoyed them. Some songs I still remember by heart. "10...9...8...7...5...4..." "Hey! You forgot 6!" "What?" "You forgot 6." The the sounds of a rocket ship would take off followed by a pop-rock style beat and music. Yea, you just never forget some things from childhood. The one thing I was blind to was the SMURF games that came out for the Atari 2600. This was due to my owning an Atari 5200 which did not get any games made by Coleco, Mattel, and most other 3rd party software developers that graced the almighty 2600. I recently acquired a SMURF game for the 2600 titled SMURF RESCUE IN GARGAMEL'S CASTLE. SMURFS? On the 2600? I have to admit my first thought was, "Oh dear. Those poor SMURFS. Even they were not immune to the 2600." Knowing how the 2600 really was not suppose to be capable of decent graphics I only imagined what the game would look like. I cringed to think about how it would play. But I loved the SMURFS so I took a chance on it. Would I see Gargamel? What about Azrael? What was the point of the game? Was I going to run for my life or was I suppose to try to get something back from Gargamel? These questions all popped up in my head because I only had the cartridge. I didn't have the instructions to read that might have gave some insight to what I was suppose to be doing. On goes the game and I immediately hear that famous "La la lala la la" theme the SMURFS would always sing. And it wasn't that bad. Then I start playing the game. Make it to the next screen and ... couldn't figure out how to jump over that first fence for nothing. I lost all five lives in about 5 seconds...or so it seems. It might have been longer than that. I wasn't counting. I try another round. Found the jump button! You push UP on the joystick. And if you time it right you can get a double jump that is significantly higher than before. I try the double jump and VIOLA! I'm over the fence. Next screen...a river. No problem. Double jump over that no problem. Next screen. Oooo...a spider! I try just walking down the hole and die. OK. Walking in the hole doesn't work so I tried jumping in it. Success! Pass the spider, jump up the other side and on to the next screen. Another river. I mistimed my jump and ended up taking a bath. Another life lost. I managed to get over it the second time. Next screen. Gargamel's castle. In the top right corner is Smurfette and now it all becomes clear. I'm to strategically work my way through screens, each with its own challenges, to try to reach Gargamel's castle before Smurfette becomes Smurf Stew. The more I played the game the more I became hooked on it. The game is very colorful and the characters actually look decent. The controls take a bit getting use to but that's commonplace for 2600 games. What is a rarity with most 2600 games is in-game music that plays in the background while there is action going onscreen. Only a few games did that including Pitfall II and Moon Patrol, the latter of which did not do it very well but tried. SMURFS on the other hand managed to get background music and sound effects without either one cancelling each other out. It's like there is a second sound chip in the cartridge somewhere. There probably is truth be told. What is even more interesting is how well Coleco captured one of the most on-going story lines in the cartoon series. Gargamel, an evil wizard whose schemes almost always never worked, would manage to capture a few SMURFS to try to eat. Eww. It was never clear why the two never got along and I remember a few episodes where the SMURFS actually helped Gargamel and his evil cat Azrael a time or two. By the end of some of the episodes where SMURFS were about to be Smurf Stew the SMURFS captured where always rescued and Gargamel kindly cursing his loss or blaming his cat for them getting away. And that's the plot of the game. To save Smurfette which, surprisingly, was originally Gargamel's creation to lead the SMURFS to Gargamel's castle. For what it's worth SMURF RESCUE IN GARGAMEL'S CASTLE is probably the first true hidden gem I've come across on the 2600. It's not what you would think. This game is more like the ancestor to the Super Mario Brothers games. It's easily the first, if not the only, side scrolling style platformer for the 2600. Putting it down is hard to do and as you progress the harder the game gets but speeding things up. You will soon be trying to figure out how to jump a fence and avoid a pesky hawk, avoid snakes and rivers, and much more. No, it doesn't scroll but it fits better in that category of gaming than any other as far as I'm concerned. My original thought on the game before I even played it was quickly laid to rest as soon as I started playing. I understand that this is considered one of the more rare games on the 2600 but should one be found in the wild don't hesitate to pick it up or might miss one of the best games Coleco put out on the 2600. If Donkey Kong on the 2600 is considered their worst then SMURF on the 2600 should be considered their best work. Period. Don't miss it if you find it and if you have it play it more often. Below is a video of me playing the game the first time after I learned the controls. This should showcase all it has to offer and why I feel it is a 2600 hidden gem. Enjoy the video and I hope you enjoyed this post. And have a SMURFING Day!
  23. 2 points
    It is no secret at all that one of my favorite franchises is the Terminator Flicks. NOTHING and I mean NOTHING will ever beat the original no matter how much people try to tell me T2 is a better film. The original had everything. SciFi, action, a bit of noir and a hint of the slasher element from horror films of the time. Most important the film had the greatest villain (next to Darth Vader) in cinematic history, Cyberdine Systems 800 series Terminator model 1 0 1. A cybernetic organism with living tissue over a hyperalloy endoskeleton. And though it is the iconic metal skeleton that draws me to the character, the "Tech Noir" look will forever be the most iconic look for the Terminator for me. For me Arnold in the gray M65 jacket lined in chains and metal studs, gray pants and black engineer boots will always be what comes to mind first when I think of the Terminator. But what completes that look in my mind is the weapon most associated with that look, the .45 Long Slide with laser sighting and it was just a matter of time that I would seek to recreate that iconic weapon. It all starts here in this box. Most of the parts need to make this a reality are within. The real weapon is based off of Colts famous model 1911 .45 pistol. My prop replica starts with this.... A cheap but somewhat accurate toy of a 1911 from eBay. And a pile of 3D printed parts designed and created by my buddy Mike of IRMAO Custom Models First task is to make the barrel/slide a few inches longer. Mike printed an extension and sleeve to help guide it in the right place. Next is the laser sighting. The only part Mike was unable to design and print was the bracket that attaches the sight to the gun itself. I found and printed a 1:1 image of the bracket on paper and 1 on heavy card stock to use as a template. This is the only part I will need to fabricate and I am ok with that. One of my favorite parts of any build is finding things in the world that have a "look" and repurpose it for my needs. I decided to go with this... If you look at the bracket you will see the left grip is part of the assembly. I then looked at a window scraper and thought it had the right "look" for my needs. It is going to take a bid of cutting, grinding, epoxy putty and some resin to work it out but in the end, I think this should work just fine... Thanks so much for having a look at the first steps in this journey and I hope you will be back to watch it all unfold. Chris The Atari Creep
  24. 2 points

    Storm's Homes - Article 0

    In my first blog post here, I talked about how I wanted to use this blog to document so many of the wonderful memories I have of growing up. In thinking about that, I've often wondered the best way to do that. By year? By topic? Some other way? I don't think there's a right or wrong way, but I think I've come up with an interesting way. I'm going to sort them by the homes I've lived in & others that are special to me. I'll be starting with my first home and end with my current. Along the way, there are a lot of others. You'll probably learn a little more about me than you'd care to but hopefully you'll be entertained as well. (Not my bedroom above. 😀)
  25. 2 points
    The FPS/RPG series Borderlands has become a favorite modern game with my wife and I. In anticipation of Borderlands 3 coming in September I decided to do a video series on Borderland 2 to revisit the game and to showcase the game in its raw form. There is no commentary as I lack the equipment to capture both at present time. The first of this series starts in the video posted below. More will follow when time allows. Parental Warning: The game play presented in the video below has been rated M for Mature by the ESRB. It may/may not contain content inappropriate for young viewers. Parental guidance is advised. The second part of this series is being figured out how to present. Over an hour of the game I captured has the game's audio missing. Instead the software switched on me to capture the mic instead. Because of the copyrighted content it captured from the living room TV I may just have to do a text commentary of what happened. I can't go back and capture it again and have it match up with the rest because of the random nature of the game. Loot is never the same in the loot crates. Any suggestions appreciated.
  26. 2 points
    Atari 5200 Guy

    XBOX E3 Highlights

    Once a year one of the largest gaming events sets the stage of what's to come. And XBOX has always put on a good showing with exclusives, releases of popular game franchises, XBOX firsts and much more. This year the concept behind XBOX's E3 show seems to be more about finally bridging the gap between console and PC gamers. But more on that later. Here are the highlights I found most interesting ... so far. Sega is bringing one of the most popular RPG franchises of all time to the XBOX One console and PC. Phantasy Star originally started on the Master System decades ago and has since been declared one of Japan's best role playing games for a lot of reasons. And most RPGs today got their influence from Sega's RPG franchise. Unlike Phantasy Star releases before it, Phantasy Star Online 2 on XBOX One is getting released first in the western part of the world. Offering cross-platform gaming between XBOX One and PC gamers Phantasy Star Online 2 looks to be setting the stage and standards for other RPGs to follow sometime in 2020. Forza has been XBOX's response to PlayStation's Gran Turismo series since the original XBOX console. It has since reached seven Motorsport releases and spawned four Horizon releases. Considered one of the best simulated racing/driving games Forza Horizon 4 is getting a rather unusual expansion pack. Forza and Lego have teamed up to offer the Forza Horizon experience on a Lego brick level. Next week, Forza Horizon 4 gets a Lego expansion pack called Lego Speed Champions. What impressed me about this was what was presented on XBOX's E3 stage during the expansion reveal. Check out this image below. That, my friends, is a life-size replica of a McClaren Senna that made it's debut appearance during the Forza Horizon 4 expansion pack revealing with working lights and doors open. That's some impressive work. Halo is coming back but not how you would expect. Along with game releases XBOX revealed a new console code named Project Scarlett. A video introducing the starts of Halo Infinite was shown. A few more game trailers and then the new console was mentioned. The new XBOX is slated for a holiday 2020 release with Halo Infinite being released with it. While there may not be a new Halo coming to XBOX One there is one coming next year for those that plan to pick up the new XBOX next year. The one reveal that I was waiting on the most was Gearbox's Borderlands 3 showing which showed more game play footage. Revealed at the end of the trailer was final proof that turned a rumor into a reality. Owners of Borderlands 2 (Steam) and Borderlands the Handsome Jack Collection (XBOX/PS) received a new DLC expansion called "Commander Lilith & the Fight for Sanctuary" that ties the story line between Borderlands 2 and the upcoming Borderlands 3 game. This expansion DLC is available for free from now (June 9) until July 8. The expansion includes a new weapon tier beyond Legendary and the character level cap has been upped to 80. New players to Borderlands 2 will automatically be bumped up to level 30 to enjoy the new DLC. Also, XBOX One owners can now get Borderlands Handsome Jack Collection for free. What better time to dig into the Borderlands series than now? One thing that XBOX has been committed to for a while now is creating a friendly online gaming experience no matter how or what you play whether it be a computer game or on an XBOX console. XBOX Game Pass is XBOX's way of getting to play games without having to pay for each game. Similar to how Netflix relates to movies Game Pass allows XBOX owners to download and play over 100 games through a subscription service. If you like the game and wish to purchase it while it part of the Game Pass service you can at a discounted price. This year at E3, Game Pass is now available for Windows PC so PC and XBOX gamers can play together in a cross platform atmosphere. $15 per month nets a Live Gold, XBOX Game Pass, and XBOX Game Pass for Windows all in one package deal. Not a bad price considering just the Game Pass alone on XBOX is $10 a month. Other highlights include a new Minecraft spin-off called Minecraft Dungeons. From what footage I watched it seemed like a Diablo-style game done in the art style of Minecraft. Up to 4 players will be able to join a co-op and go exploring. For those that like scary games there was footage shown on a new game called Blair Witch. Too scary for me. And Keanu Reeves made an appearance to showcase a game he is in called Cyberpunk 2077 which looked like a lot of fun! Those were my favorite highlights of E3 on June 9th. If you watched it be sure to share your favorite highlights as I would love to hear your thoughts and favorites about what was shown.
  27. 2 points

    011 - World Tour Racing

    World Tour Racing Published: 1997 by Telegames Developed: Teque London Polygonal racers were all the rage in the mid-90s. At the time of the Jaguar’s release, Sega’s Virtua Racing ruled the arcades. Atari’s answer was the lackluster Checkered Flag; a game notorious for its low frame rate and horrible controls. The innovative but visually bland Club Drive also failed to impress gamers. By 1994, the Sega 32X had an excellent port of Virtua Racing. The release of the Sega Saturn and Sony Playstation brought home amazing versions of Daytona USA and Ridge Racer, respectively. Atari needed a response. Something that would make up for the sin of Checkered Flag and provide Jaguar enthusiasts with a modern polygonal racer worthy of their 64-bit machine. Atari turned to developer Teque London to produce a Formula One licensed racer, complete with real tracks: F1 Racer. Unfortunately, by the time the game was ready in early 1996, Atari was on life support. The ruinous 1995 holiday season brought Atari to the brink and many complete or near complete Jaguar projects were cancelled. F1 Racer was shelved until Atari’s merger with JTS, at which point the title was purchased by Telegames along with Towers II, Worms, Zero 5, Iron Soldier 2 and Breakout 2000. The official F1 license was dropped and the final game, now called World Tour Racing, was released in 1997 on the Jaguar CD add-on. Is World Tour Racing the polygonal racer that the Jaguar always deserved? Let's take the game to the track and see if it qualifies! Gameplay: “Imagine that, a Jaguar polygon racer with decent controls!” Gameplay is straightforward in WTR. Under the default setting, use the controller’s d-pad to steer, B-button to brake and A-button to accelerate. Control is responsive and steering is tight. The brakes and acceleration work as they should. Options for a track map are available in single player mode. This helps tremendously. The C-button is used to toggle through the game’s three standard views: In-car, Chase 1 and Chase 2. The game views can really affect gameplay and your mileage may vary depending on which view you select. I prefer Chase 2 which is behind the car and above. The car looks smaller in this view but it was easier for me to control. Chase 1 probably looks the most contemporary with other polygon racers of the time. The In-car view puts you in the driver’s seat. This looked cool but I found it difficult to take corners in this mode. Other views are available on the controller’s keypad, as are options for track maps, music and road textures. WTR’s three main gameplay modes are Single Race, Championship and Arcade. Both Single Race and Arcade modes have a two-player, split screen option. In Single Race mode, players can elect to race any of the 16 available race tracks. In Championship mode, players race the entire calendar, taking on each track in turn. Both Single Race and Championship mode offer qualifying and free race options. Qualifying will establish your car’s grid-position in the actual race. If you choose to skip the qualifying option, you will automatically get the last grid-position. In Arcade mode, players race each track in turn, scoring points based on finishing place. Among the modes, my favorites are Single Race and Arcade. I enjoy Single Race because you have the option to select any of the 16 available tracks. There is a good deal of variety in the track layouts and its nice that all of them are unlocked from the start. Arcade mode is just easy to hop into. No qualifying, no problem! WTR offers a great deal of customization. In all modes, players can access the “Workshop” which allows tire selection, gearbox ratios, brake balancing and wing angle. I played around with these but they didn’t really enhance my race performance. One thing missing: Color selection! I hope you like a red car because that’s what you’re getting! Note: The action noticeably slows down during two-player split screen. Also, the track map feature is not available. This makes taking tight corners a bit trickier than in single-player mode. I consider the split screen option a novelty. Graphics: Graphically, WTR is a bit of a grab bag. In-game, WTR uses a combination of gouraud-shaded polygons, bitmaps and minimal textures. In still shots and on straightaways where you are the only car, this looks great. Atari-themed signs (“Atari”, “Jaguar”, “DOOM”), buildings, crowds and trees fly by and give you a real sense of speed. However, when there is too much on the scree the slow-down is noticeable. This doesn’t ruin the gameplay but it can be distracting. As mentioned above, the slow-down is even more prevalent in two-player mode. There is an option to turn on a texture on the race track. This option looks really strange and I found that performance improved slightly if I left it off. The information graphics (speed, place and lap) look very clean and are in line with the style of the day. Fonts are modern (for the 90s) and have a slight gradient shading which looks really good. In single player mode, there are three options for a track map. The first shows just a portion of the map in a translucent box. The second is a map of the full track, which rotates with you. The last map option is to have no map at all. I found the rotating full track map to be the easiest to use. The tracks themselves are different from one another but none of the environments really stand out. Is it Britain? Is it Brazil? Is it Hungary? Without the menu, who would know? It would have been cool if the artists incorporated something unique in each track to distinguish one nation’s track from the next. One of the tell-tale signs of a 90s CD-ROM title are the weird CG cutscenes and movies. WTR is chock full of them. These range from the bizarre Teque title-card, to the game intro, to an arcade machine bursting through the wall when selecting Arcade mode. The models here are much smoother than what was capable in-game and was at least on par with what other systems were doing at the time. None of these have aged well but its part of that era and always makes me laugh. Its clear someone was having fun with all of the extra storage the Jaguar CD provided! Sound/Music: WTR really shines in the audio department. Engine sounds and screeching tires sound just as you would expect. In true mid-90s fashion, in-game music consists of high-quality techno that is really fun to drive to. It truly shows off the Jaguar CDs audio capabilities and is some of the best music on the platform. My only complaint is that there are only 3 tunes over the course of 16 race tracks. It would have been great if more in-game music was included. Other Notes: There is no Memory Track support in WTR. Instead, you use an over long pass code. This is CRAZY for a Jaguar CD game. Maybe Teque didn't have time to implement Memory Track support but its a real bummer. Final Thoughts: World Tour Racing is a competent polygonal open-wheel racer. It controls reasonably well, is full of options, has a variety of tracks, and features some of the best music on the Jaguar. The graphics definitely tax the system and there is noticeable slow down during gameplay, particularly in two-player mode. Does it hold up to contemporaries on the Saturn and Playstation? Not by a long shot. That said, it is a fun game and its the best polygonal racer on the platform. If you have a Jaguar CD or are an F1 fan, its definitely worth a look. Thanks for reading and please share your memories and thoughts on World Tour Racing in the comments below! Do you think that it takes the pole position among Jaguar’s racers? The next game is: Primal Rage!
  28. 1 point
    The recently released Super Mario Bros Game and Watch scores a Solid 7/10. When compared to the original Game and Watches its missing some features but there is a lot of goodies that sort of make up for it and it will bring you hours of joy. To start the box has a protective sleeve over it with a neat design on it. (Pictures below) But lets get into the meat of the Handheld the clock has Mario running through a level which you have 3 level faces to choose from that you are able to pick by pressing the Time button. While on the clock screen you are able to interact with the computer Mario that is running on the screen by pressing A or B. By doing so it will drop enemy's into the clock face and Mario will have to try and avoid, or defeat them. There are 35 events that happen on the clock face, from Mario moonwalking to Monty Mole appearing from the ground and running around. Depending on the time of day the face will also change to morning, evening, and night screens as well as change the enemy's that Mario is facing. To set the time and change the volume and brightness you will want to hit the pause/set button on the clock face screen. One hidden feature on the device is on the clock screen if you press and hold the A button for about 5 seconds you will be met with a screen for the Mario Drawing song which has subtitles in 7 different languages. Now there are three games on the device which are located under the games button you have Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 2, and Game and Watch Ball. If you are in any of the games by pressing the pause/set button you will pause the game and will be met with 3 options Sound, Brightness and Reset game. Now there are some hidden features on the games as well on Mario Bros 1 and 2 if you click the game to start and hold A on the menu for about 5 seconds before starting the game completely you can enjoy the games with Infinite lives which can be nice lol. On Game and Watch Ball if you do the same thing you can swap Marios head for Luigis. Now before we talk about what is missing I want to mention that if you do not have it plugged in it will shut off after not being used for a few minutes and it will show you a going to sleep picture. If you have it plugged in the device will remain on. Now my only Gripes for this Handheld is since it is a clock it would of been nice if Nintendo would have included a kickstand on it like the originals had, and if it would of had a alarm function. I also wish that they would have included one more Game and Watch game making it have a total of 4 games 2 Mario and 2 Game and Watch. Overall I have had a lot of fun with it and would say if you find it at a store id pick it up. It would make a great stocking stuffer or Clock for your desk you can buy stands to put it on at a arts store or online on sites like Etsy etc. I hope you guys enjoyed my review and have a good week everyone. 😃 | Website | Trailer |
  29. 1 point

    SOS | Save our SNES!

    So the other night my family and I sat down and watched the hit 1997 film Titanic. My parents always talked about how much they hated it, but last night is when us kids finally got the chance to see it. I will say, parts of the movie are really well done. I have always thought the Titanic disaster was interesting, and my mother has as well. She knew a lot about it, to my surprise, and pointed out a few Easter eggs in the movie that would have gone over my head otherwise. For instance, there was one scene where the ship designer (I believe it was him) was staring into a fireplace or something, which was where he was supposedly last spotted. There was lots of stuff like that scattered throughout the film. The set design was also astonishing, and very accurate to the real-life design of the ship. I have seen what the vessel actually looked like from documentaries, pictures, footage of the wreck, et cetera, and the movie did a very good job replicating the original design. But the thing that completely ruined the whole movie for me was the horrible main story. The story! Jack, the stereotypical "poor boy" love interest character, and Rose, the stereotypical "rich girl loves boy below her social class" character. The whole thing is incredibly cliche. The two are "soulmates" and are so deeply in love, even though they have only known of each other's existence for less than a week. But no, just THROW THE NECKLACE IN THE WATER FOR YOUR DEAD PAL FROM 85 YEARS AGO, ROSE! And when you die, go make out with this dude you knew for like three days almost a century ago. Your husband you were married to for years? Screw him! And that stupid song! That song has been "memed" to death, and has been paired with so many stupid things over the years on the internet. I honestly can't take anything with that song in it seriously anymore, and since the story is so bad in the first place, the whole thing seems ironic to me. The song is so overused these days and paired with such stupid things, and the story qualifies as a stupid thing. It's not like it's a bad song or anything, it just doesn't carry the same emotional value that it did 20+ years ago. It is pretty cool that it was recorded in one take. You know, not many people know about this (including myself until yesterday), but there was actually a Titanic movie as far back as 1912. Yeah, it came out only 29 days after the tragedy occurred! Imagine someone releasing a 9/11 movie in October of 2001! How insensitive and horrible for the survivors! That's waaaaaay too soon to make a dramatization on such a contemporary and tragic incident. "Saved from the Titanic" starred a real Titanic survivor (who sadly experienced many emotional breakdowns on set) and even experienced with color in a few scenes. Unfortunately, all known copies of the film were destroyed in a fire in 1914, though it is rumored that a copy was given to president Taft and that it may still be preserved in his presidential library. A fake copy of the movie is currently on YouTube, though that isn't the original. Only the movie posters and a couple of stills exist today. So anyway, what were we talking about again? Oh, yes, our game! When I was watching Titanic, I couldn't stop thinking about a certain Super Nintendo game I used to play back in the day called SOS. I didn't play the game as often as others (like Super Metroid, F-Zero, or Mortal Kombat II), but I had played it a bit and enjoyed it. It was a very hard game, and I never did get too far in it. So I decided to try it out again after watching the movie, as it had been a while and my video gaming skills had improved drastically. SOS has a copyright year of 1994 and was published by Vic Tokai here in the USA. The game was developed by Human Entertainment, who is probably best known for the cult classic Clock Tower. SOS is not to be confused with the other SOS game on the Super Nintendo, SOS: Sink or Swim! The two are completely unrelated from what I can see. Though this game reminded me of the Titanic disaster, the game's story is actually quite different than the events that occurred in 1912. From research I have done, SOS drew heavy inspiration from the novel and film "The Poseidon Adventure". Rather than an iceberg becoming the ship's undoing, there's a violent storm in which the boat, Lady Crithania, is capsized. The game is also set in the early 1920's rather than the early 1910's. So what's the gameplay like? I'm glad you asked. At the beginning of the game, you have a choice of several playable characters, each with their own backstory and in-game goals. For instance, Dr. Jeffery Howell will need to rescue his wife as his main objective. You have one hour in real time to escape the ship with as many survivors as possible. The ship will rotate randomly using some nice Mode Seven techniques, and that can either help or hurt you. The game plays like a Metroidvania, and there is no combat in the game. All you need to do is avoid obsticles such as fires, sparks, and falling from too great a height. If you die in the game, you'll be deducted five minutes from the in-game timer. If you're still in the ship when time is up, your game is over. Because off all of the different characters and endings, the game is very replayable. The level design is very much like a ship that's sinking. You have your broken tables, sparks, fires, carcasses, WATER of course. The thing that makes the level design hard is that the ship is constantly rotating and you play most of the game upside-down. The stiff controls also add to the challenge. Some say these controls ruin the game, though I feel they add to it. You're a random dude on a sinking ship, not an athlete. If you had Samus Aran's controls from Super Metroid, this game would be a breeze to complete. I feel the level design fits the controls well, and nothing seems particularly undoable. So, what are the problems with the game? It can't all be positive. As previously mentioned, the controls can make the game very frustrating at times. I have found myself draining my time very quickly because I kept dying due to the ship's unpredictable rotations. I understand why they made it this way, but that doesn't mean it can't be frustrating. Another thing that can be annoying is the absence of an in-game map. Expect to get lost a lot. Again, the ship's turning also makes it harder than it needs to be, as it can be very disorienting. The A/I of the survivors you rescue is also pretty bad. It isn't obvious at first, but you need to keep hitting a button to get them to follow you around. Just keep hitting "L", and they'll follow you. It's not too big of a problem, but it can get mildly annoying at times. Strangely, this game commands quite a high price. When I was cataloging my collection via Pricecharting.com, I was pretty surprised when I found out this game's value. SOS, loose, goes for about $70 according to the site. Thanks, Dad, for not selling your games! This game also got a Japan-only sequel on the PlayStation. So would I recommend it? While SOS is a great hidden gem on the system, I simply can't recommend it because of the price. Is it a fun game? Yes. Am I glad I have it? Yes. But it's simply too much to pay for the game. While it's a great game, this is the SNES we're talking about here. This thing has a killer library of classic games like Super Metroid, A Link to the Past, and Super Mario World. So, for the system it's on and what it's up against, I'll have to rate it relatively low. Lower than I would like to otherwise. So, for the system it's on, SOS gets a 7/10 from me. If you find this one for a reasonable price in the wild, don't hesitate to pick it up and give it a go. It's a pretty great game, though it's not Super Metroid! I will say this: it's leaps and bounds better than the Titanic movie!
  30. 1 point

    Flinging food in Food Fight

    So this blog entry is a little special. Today, I will be covering a video game that I got through the I/O on the I/O! I bought this game and a few others from the one and only @chas10e a few weeks back. He's a great guy to deal with. When you think of classic arcade titles from the golden age, several come to mind before others. In my mind, there are divided into several tiers based off of popularity. Allow me to go off on a little bit of a tangent, but I feel that I need to list them. This is the top tier of popular classic arcade games. Not necessarily my absolute favorites, but I feel they still remain popular all these years later. Some examples from this category are Mr. and Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Galaga, and Dig Dug. Even non-gamers have heard of or even played these games before. This tier is slightly less popular than the first, though many modern and/or casual gamers have heard of them. Some examples are Galaxian, Xevious, Centipede, Q*Bert, Defender, and Asteroids. In this tier, we have games that were popular in their time, but not so much with the more modern crowd. Berzerk, Phoenix, Vanguard, Venture, Crystal Castles, and Moon Patrol all fall under this category in my eyes. These games are less popular than the third tier. Many gamers at the time when these were new haven't played or heard of these before. These games tend to be pretty obscure in the modern age. Many are hidden gems. The arcade version of the game we're talking about today, Food Fight, falls under this category, as well as Super Pac-Man, Pac & Pal, Bosconian, and GORF. Not that these games are bad, but they just weren't as popular as the others (though not flops on the market). These are the really obscure games, including flops on the market. Many games from the early 1970's fall under this category. Many of these are really obscure, and even serious retro gamers may not have heard of several of them. Examples include Stratovox, Anti-Aircraft, Star Ship One, and Taito's Japan-only Western Gun. I know some of you here have probably heard of most of these. So anyways, let's start talking about Food Fight already! The arcade version was released in 1983. Though the game was published by Atari, it was actually developed by General Computer Corporation. I won't get into their history now (I'll be saving that should I do a blog on Missile Command or Ms. Pac-Man), but do keep in mind that they were also behind the 7800 system itself. The arcade game used an analog joystick for aiming food in more than eight directions. The goal of the game is to make your way over to an ice cream cone on the opposite side of the screen before it melts. On your way, you must avoid the chefs and the food they throw at you. If you walk over a pile of food, you'll be able to pick up a piece of it. Once you throw it, you'll have to pick up another before you can shoot again. Food Fight didn't get a lot of home ports; only two to my knowledge. First, there was the 7800 port, which may have launched during the 7800's test launch in 1984, but saw a nationwide release in 1986. Second, there was the XE version which I believe has a 1987 copyright. The XE port is a sad excuse for a game. It is incredibly choppy, and makes 7800 Hat Trick look smooth. It's a shame, too. Sadly, after these two ports we never saw another release of Food Fight in compilations. In order to play it, you'll have to track down a cartridge for the 7800 or XE or just emulate it. It's a real hidden gem worth trying out. Well, we did see one rerelease. In fact, it was a completely different port altogether. This version of Food Fight was programmed for the NES for use on the original Atari Flashback in the early 2000's. That version of the Flashback was the only one to use a 7800 design and it even included some of the system's games, Food Fight included. Cool, right? The 7800 needs more love. No, not cool. This is some of the worst "emulation" I have ever seen in my life. The Atari 2600 joystick plug and play from Jakks Pacific a few years earlier also used a similar NES-on-a-chip design, and though it wasn't perfect, it was much better than this. This version of Food Fight was based on the 7800 version rather than the arcade. Kind of reminds me of when the Nintendo arcade games were ported to the 7800 in 1988. Those were based off of their NES counterparts rather than the arcade originals. This version of Food Fight is the worst of all. They did almost nothing right. Don't even bother. It's somehow worse than the XE version. The 7800 version of Food Fight does what it does really well. It handles a lot of sprites on screen at once and runs much smoother than the XE version. The graphics are a step down from the arcade; Charley Chuck has dots for eyes and the color palette and pixel resolution are drastically reduced. The sound chip is also inferior. But somehow, Food Fight manages to be one of the best games on the system. The gameplay is still there, the instant replays are still there, the music and sound effects are very good for the TIA chip, and you can even choose your difficulty and starting level. The controls are also really good, which is a bit surprising given how the ProLine controller can only let you aim in eight directions. If you don't have a 7800, buy it just for this game. It's amazing, and something you won't find in many other places. This is the best version of the game that you can play at home without using emulation. An easy 10/10 game for the system it's on. By far my favorite game on the 7800 so far. Thanks again, @chas10e.
  31. 1 point
    So yeah, hair care IS a thing since we cannot go out and social distancing blah blah. I just recently SHAVED my beard off 😮 because I like to "reset" every now and then, let my face breath etc, it's cool, I will have 5 o'clock shadow by 3 o'clock again 🙄 I mention this only because I am posting these silly low res images I took in Linux on one of my low end craptops recently and so you can see my before and after. I used a webcam effect in the after image because I was MAD LIKE HULK or something 😆 Now, as for the hair on my head well, who knows? We don't have clippers and I am not hacking away at my head for over 2 hours with disposable razors like I did my face so, I am expecting my hair to get longer than I have allowed it in years, I will likely have the Mod Squad Clarence Williams III / Linc Hayes Afro going before this is all over. 😎
  32. 1 point
    I been suffering severe sinus issues past 3 days. FINALLY everything that was jammed up in my nasal passages released into my nose and I was able to blow it out, required much sudafed, inhalation and mostly ibuprofen and Tylenol because I get a severe sinus headaches from it, the first day really bad and painful but the next couple days even after doing everything still experiencing a constant low underlying headache which clearly was wearing me out. Today is the first day I actually feel relief. Blew a bunch a shit out of my nose and throat in a hot steamy shower, unclogged finally! I will continue on sudafed for the rest of the day until I go to bed then hopefully I can do without it after that, knocks me on my ass though, I hibernate like bear but it makes me dream like crazy and I feel it helps in the body healing process. First thing I noted was no cough or any other symptoms so not jumping the gun or being paranoid about Covid but at the same time need to be careful, don't want to be compromised by anything that might cause me to be even more susceptible to virus. Would not be the first time where I was sick and got through it only to be knocked on my ass by something even worse! But yeah, feeling much more like my old self which may never be GREAT these days but at least it allows me to be functional and for that I am thankful.
  33. 1 point

    RE: My Tragic C64 incident

    RE: Commodore 64. Once (I learned a lesson 😎) back in the early days, my first C64, the classic breadbox model, I loved it so, I even painted the case a cool shiny BLACK with spray paint. NOTE: Image show is not mine and included for descriptive purposes only. Sadly, I had more balls than knowledge and was always tinkering, wanting to see the guts of a machine etc. Do you know where this is going? I disassembled the machine BUT, and I think this was my biggest mistake in all this, with the cover and shielding OFF for some reason I still had it plugged in and turned on and poking around looking at the chips with screwdriver in hand I explored the guts noting numbers and labels when suddenly I dropped my tool (I MEAN MY SCREWDRIVER!) and there was a pop sound followed with a spark. It all happened so fast, I do not recall seeing any obvious damage but....well after putting everything back together, at first I was happy to see the machine start up and at first thought eh, everything fine but.....nope. Turns out everything I loaded, whether form cassette or disk just ran at the wrong speed, I don't recall if it was super sped up or super slow, IF I had to pick one I am pretty sure it was super slow, as if every process went from normal to the speed of a snail crawling through molasses, it seemed to work normally otherwise from what I recall but nothing was playable or usable after that. Oh man I was soooo upset and mad at myself. Such things were rare commodities for me at that young age and I was never going to get a replacement that's for sure, I had gotten it used as a hand me down. I learned a valuable lesson that day I can tell you. Oh I still tinkered, took things apart and explored every electronic item I would be lucky enough to get, MOST reassembled and working again successfully. Anyway, there was a time I got ONE hell of a shock that I think made my heart possibly stop temporarily while working at the back of a 26' cabinet RCA CRT Television but that's another story 😛 Note mine (it's long gone 😢) but similar
  34. 1 point
    Atari 5200 Guy

    Diggin' With Dig Dug

    Grab that joystick, mash that button as we go on a journey digging underground to collect vegetables, pump up Pookas, and dropping rocks on Fygars. This is Dig Dug -- the strategic underground arcade digging game that took the video game industry by storm in the early 1980's. Released by Namco in Japan, the game was brought to America and Europe by Atari's arcade division. It wouldn't be long after that when Atari's console division made home versions of the game for the Atari 2600, 5200, and 7800 consoles. All three versions capture the essence of the game but which one stands out the most? That is the purpose of this writing. I sat down over the weekend and played all three versions of the game to answer my own question of which one was the better Dig Dug. Fans of the game and Atari consoles might have a personal favorite because it was probably the one they played growing up. I get it, I know that way of thinking very well as I, too, grew up on Atari's Dig Dug for my first Atari console. But I went in to this being completely biased and taking mental notes on what I liked and didn't like about each version on an individual basis. I also kept mental notes on which one I was playing the most. This one is more for my own personal satisfaction. It is in no way saying which one is better for everyone, everywhere. The answer I came up with may surprise you. But it would be foolish to give the answer away first thing and make for a very short blog post. So I will start off with the version I grew up with first. The 5200's Dig Dug is the version I grew up with. I spent many hours on this game without reading the instructions of course. Then again I'm sure those of us who had an Atari did a similar thing...in goes the cartridge, in the trash went everything else including instructions. If only I had read those instructions but more on that later. The 5200 version gets points for looking more like the arcade with the exception of the single-colored sprites or characters. Everything else looks good. The game play is definitely here and the sound effects that make Dig Dug enjoyable are also present and done very well. Having grown up with the 5200 allowed me to gain an appreciation for the system so the controller was nothing new to me. The controls worked fine, no issues. However I could easily understand how this game would be a flop if and when a controller decides to stop working properly. The 5200 was marketed as an at-home arcade system and its ports of the then-popular arcade hits were nothing short of a miracle and Dig Dug still holds up well on this console. On a more personal note I think the game would have been a bit better with multicolored characters. At least Fygar looks like a dragon. I just wish that the Pookas had their iconic yellow masks. Now...on to the next version I played. Dig Dug on the 7800 gets points for the much improved graphics...and the characters finally look like their arcade cousins. The game play is smooth, graphics are good, sounds are OK, and the controls works. The only thing about this Dig Dug I don't like has nothing to do with the game but more with the controller. The 7800's original controller is so uncomfortable that playing this game for any kind of enduring high score run is almost impossible. This is easily eliminated by using a Europad controller or even the standard 2600 style controller. Using any kind of controller besides that 7800 controller would be a blessing in disguise. However, to stay true to my original concept of trying Dig Dug using all original hardware I hung in there. I found myself playing this one a few times before reaching the point my hands simply couldn't take it any more. I had fun with this version and the 7800's Dig Dug can be fun. It's a real shame that this was not released when it was ready and when it would have mattered. What I did notice was how quick the game was unforgiving. It didn't take long for three or four monsters to turn into ghosts and come after me. Usually within the first and second rounds. I simply couldn't do as good on the 7800 version as I could on the 5200 version on the default settings. And we have now reached the final version of Dig Dug I tried. Dig Dug on the 2600 was one I remember playing after years of owning the 5200 Dig Dug. At first glance the game doesn't look as good as its 5200 and 7800 siblings. The characters look OK, the controls are good, the sounds are as good as they can be (which the 7800 has the exact same sounds), it's just the dirt, or what is suppose to be dirt, is just thin solid bars. There is a little bit of flicker which is understandable considering the hardware and memory limitations. But the game play is what is all about when the 2600 is in the spotlight. To my surprise the 2600 Dig Dug holds its own. And considering the large amount of various controller styles for the 2600 I can see how anyone could sit and do a decent high score run on this system with very little to no fatigue. I have to say what impresses me the most about this version is how colorful it seems over the others. Bright, solid, vibrant colors that are easy to look at. They don't appear dull, dark or dingy like the 5200 and 7800 versions can sometimes appear. It's just an overall fun experience. Now, to the section that was hard for me to decide...which one ranks above the others. The 5200 I am sentimentally partial to so that would normally rank it above all others. If it was the only Atari Dig Dug I had I would be satisfied with it. It does play well for what it's worth. The 7800 version looks remarkably better but I do wish they would have done different sounds instead of just copying those from the 2600 version. And if I was stuck with the original 7800 controllers there's no way my hands could tolerate lengthy amount of game play. I'd have to use a different controller. The 7800 controllers are just not balanced well. With that being said... ...the 2600 version wins this round. I have to be honest here because the 2600 took a really long time to capture my heart. It was very much ignored, overlooked, frowned upon during its production run and even years after. Trying to be biased for this game on the 2600 was not easy for me to do. When I played it before I wasn't sure why I was playing it or if I even wanted to play it. Over the last few years I have slowly discovered all the games I missed that ended up being a lot of fun. And that's what the 2600 was about...fun. It wasn't about the graphics or sounds...it was all about the game play. And Atari nailed it on the 2600 version of Dig Dug. It's colorful and after a while the appearance of the dirt just starts to blend in. It's a formula that just works, pure and simple. To my surprise I found myself playing Dig Dug on the 2600 more often than on the 5200 and 7800 systems. The 2600 keeps proving to me time and time again what its true nature is. It's a game machine where it is not always about how the game looks but how the game is played. And Dig Dug on the 2600 plays very well. And it would be easy to do a long running high score attempt on it without worrying about fatigue or sore hands. The 2600 has a lot of character for a simple machine and Dig Dug fits in very well into its library of arcade ports. Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to return to my 2600 to play some more Dig Dug. Oh...I almost forgot! Getting back to those instructions. It wasn't until I recently picked up a new copy of Dig Dug for the 2600 where I learned how to get those vegetables to show up. All I had to do was drop two rocks. I sat down to read the instructions and that's when I discovered it. I've had Dig Dug, buying it new in box as well, for the 5200 for at least ten years now and I've never read the instructions or I would have known that tip a lot sooner. OK...back to more Dig Dug. Have Fun!!
  35. 1 point

    010 - Ultra Vortek

    Ultra Vortek Published: 1995 by Atari Developed: Beyond Games 2D arcade fighting games were incredibly popular in the mid-90s and console gamers wanted that experience at home. Unfortunately, with the notable exception of Primal Rage for the Jaguar CD, Atari's 64-bit console lacked conversions of well known arcade titles like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter 2. Instead, Jaguar 2D fighter fans were treated to questionable ports of 16-bit console titles like Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story and Double Dragon V and two Jaguar exclusives: Kasumi Ninja and Ultra Vortek. Developed by Beyond Games of Lynx Battlewheels fame and released for the Jaguar by Atari in 1995, Ultra Vortek is a 2D fighter firmly in the mold of the Mortal Kombat series. The game is crammed with 90s fighter tropes, complete with all of the special moves, fatalities and attitude of the era. Ultra Vortek is considered by many Jaguar enthusiasts to be the system's best fighter. Is Ultra Vortek the killer 2D fighter that the Jagauar sorely needed? Let's plug this totally extreme game in the big cat to find out. It's Annihilation Time! Gameplay: Ultra Vortek offers two main game modes: Vs. and Tournament. There are four difficulty levels that range from "Training" to "Killer". This write-up will focus on the single-player game. At its core, the single-player mode of Ultra Vortek is a rather generic tournament fighter with a standard best of 3 set-up. The player selects one of 7 playable characters, each representing one of three factions. Once selected, the player sets out to fight the others in a life or death contest to challenge "the Guardian" and take control of "the Ultra Vortek" - "the wellspring from which mankind draws its eternal energy." If you lose, the life force of your faction will be subsumed by the Ultra Vortek. Heavy stakes, indeed. The tournament itself is called "the Time of Testing" and there is a bit about a Vortek Tablet that is frankly lost on me. Backstory aside, Ultra Vortek offers control using the standard Jaguar gamepad's three action buttons and d-pad. Special moves and fatalities - here called Annihilations - are pulled off through various combinations of the directional and action buttons. While the special moves are easier to pull than in other Jaguar fighters, I still found it difficult. It's strange that there is not a Pro Controller option for Ultra Vortek, as it was a relatively late release. While the 3 button control scheme is adequate, the game would have clearly benefited from the 6 button design of the Pro Controller. In-game action is mostly fluid. The button response and hit detection are decent and the characters are fairly well balanced. That said, it is far too easy to beat the game in Normal mode by simply using a leg swipe. The difficulty ramps up tremendously in Hard mode, making for a much more enjoyable single-player game. Importantly, the game lacks a combo system which may put off some fighter fans. Graphics: Graphically, Ultra Vortek shows off the Jaguar's 2D capabilities quite nicely. The stage levels are rather detailed, featuring a blend of post-apocalyptic and hellscape imagery that suits the theme of the game. From digitized onlookers, to subway trains, to roving eyeballs, to mirrored floor surfaces, it's clear that a lot of thought went into the presentation of each stage. That being said, the stages feel disconnected from the characters themselves. By that, I mean that the stages do not necessarily reflect the attributes or biography of the selected opponent. Instead, you'll find yourself fighting on any of the stages, regardless of the opponent/player character selected. This isn't a deal breaker by any means. It's just a bit odd considering all of the time the developers spent on the game's lore. Character sprites are decent sized, though not as large or detailed as in Kasumi Ninja. The characters themselves are derived from a mix of digitized photos for the human faction and Buzzsaw, and stop motion and hand animation for the more fantastical characters. Character design is pretty generic cyberpunk/post-apocalyptic fare. They fit the game but are not terribly memorable. My favorite characters to play were the human Lucius and the robot Buzzsaw. The standard hits, special moves and fatalities are well animated and many are humorous in their over-the-top nature. For example, the shape-shifting Mercury has a fatality where he turns into a meat grinder and subsequently grinds the body of his foe. Other moves send severed heads hurtling toward the screen. There is also a "poopality" which is everything you would imagine it to be. Oh and there are buckets of blood, acid and ... "mercury"...to be had on screen depending on the characters in play. Ah, the 90s - so extreme! Other notes on graphics: 1) I really like the spiked swipe screen. It looks fantastic and is a nice added touch. 2) The player select screen is really cool with one small quibble: character names do not show onscreen until you're in the level. This is a really strange design choice. 3) I really love the eye in the center of the health meter. It follows the action and is so otherworldly. Sound/Music: I generally like the near CD quality rock and metal tunes that serve as the soundtrack to the game. It's cheesy but it fits the tone of the game. The hit sounds, digitized voices and other sound effects are all admirably accomplished. I really enjoy some of the character specific sounds, like the short circuiting of defeated robot characters and the squishy noises made by Mercury. Final Thoughts: Ultra Vortek is a competent 2D fighter that gets more right than it does wrong. The story is interesting, the gameplay works and the music is jamming. While it isn't quite up to the standards of contemporaries like MK3, it is a solid entry in the Jaguar's lackluster fighter line-up. Is it the best fighter on the Jaguar? For me, that honor goes to Primal Rage. That said, if you're a fan of this style of fighter, give it a try. If not, pass. Thanks for reading and please share your memories and thoughts on Ultra Vortek in the comments below! Do you think it is the best fighter on the Jaguar? Also, a special thank you to The Professor who recommended this game in the Readers' Choice post! I'll do another readers choice selection for Post 020. The next game comes courtesy of the randomizer. That game is: World Tour Racing!
  36. 1 point
    2018 Homebrews: A Very Galactopus Christmas (bB) by Ric Pryor “KaeruYojimbo” Alien Attack by Edward A. Smith “easmith” - available at Good Deal Games Alien Greed 5 by Chris Read “atari2600land” – available thru 2600connection NO “Public” ROM available Alien Revenge! by Edward A. Smith “easmith” - available at Good Deal Games Apollyon (bB) by Fehér János Zoltán “MemberAtarian” will be available thru Retronics Asteroid Rescue (bB) by Ross Adkin “TidusRenegade” – available on the Retron 77 and thru Good Deal Games Astronomer (bB) by Alex Pietrow “Coolcrab” – available on the Retron 77 and thru Packrat Video Games Baby (bB) by Robert Raymond Holmes III "Robsome" – available on itch.io for $1 and on the Retron 77 Balloon Trip by “bluswimmer” available thru AtariAge Beeware (bB) by Fehér János Zoltán “MemberAtarian” Bifröst by David Weavil “s0c7” (updated from 2010) Birds and Beans by “bluswimmer” CAAAT (bB) by Fehér János Zoltán “MemberAtarian” Death Voyage (bB) by Eric Pryor "KaeruYojimbo" Drakko (bB) by John Von Neumann Dungeon II: Solstice by David Weavil “s0c7” – available thru AtariAge Fear of the Dark (bB) by Fehér János Zoltán “MemberAtarian” Flappy The Duck (bB) by Brian Wayne Shea "metalbabble" Gatecrasher II by “Mr SQL” High Score Slow Burn Screen Burn (bB) by B.J. Best “bjbest60” {Best Games #1} – sold out private sale, now available thru 8-Bit Classics Horizon Shift (bB) by Flump Studios UK Journey to Xenos by Nick A. Bild, MS Kar Kombat (bB) by Alan W. Smith - available at Good Deal Games Mappy by John W. Champeau {Champ Games} – available thru AtariAge Maze of NewBorne (bB) by “Reverend Jared” Monkey King (was Climb the Tree) (bB) by Alex Pietrow “Coolcrab” – (will be) available thru Packrat Video Games Muncher 77 by Rick Skrbina "Wickeycolumbus" – available on the Retron 77 NO “Public” ROM available Neko 2600 (bB) by Brian Wayne Shea "metalbabble" NeXion 3D (bB) by Brock Keaghey “TheMajorHavoc” – available on the Retron 77 Pabling's Glitch Adventure (bB) by Skyler Hanners "superskyphoenix03" NO “Public” ROM available Parsec 2600 (bB) by Howard Oberg "hloberg" Pickle by Edward A. Smith - available at Good Deal Games Plague (bB) by Fehér János Zoltán “MemberAtarian” (will be) available thru AtariAge and Retronics Red Light Green Light by “Secamline” Refraction by Norbert Landsteiner “NoLand” Sheep It Up! (bB) by “Dr. Ludos” - available thru AtariAge Shifty Lifty (bB) by Ross Adkin “TidusRenegade” – available on the Retron 77 (1st update) NO “Public” ROM available Sky Destroyer (bB) by Eric Pryor "KaeruYojimbo" Space Game (bB) by Karl Garrison "Karl G" & Maggie Vogel – available at AtariAge Stacker (bB) by ‎Desmond Jones Stardust (bB) by Brian Wayne Shea "metalbabble” Stripes of Terror (PAL only) by Krzysztof Kluczek, Michał Żuchowski, & Mariusz Górski Sword of Surtr (bB) by Jeff Stermer “ultima” – (will be) available at AtariAge The Gizzle Wap and the Terrible Blizzard of Firn (bB) by Jeff Smith "Mountain King" Tron (bB) by “Orange808” Turtle Bay by “Unlink2” Tyre Trax (bB) by Lewis Hill "Muddyfunster" demo’d at 2018 PRGE at AA booth Zombie Road Kill by Scott Dayton {NEO Games} - sold out private sale NO “Public” ROM available 2018 WIP’s: Aardvark (Pending Release) by Oscar Toledo Gutiérrez “nanochess”, Thomas Jentzsch (coding), Nathan Strum (graphics) demo’d at 2018 PRGE at AA booth Amoeba Jump (was Doodle Jump 2600/Poodle Jump) by Dion Olsthoom demo’d at 2018 PRGE at AA booth Apshai (aka Lost Dunjonquest Apshai) (bB) by Justin Gibson “waderain” Attack of the Timelord! by Flavio Nunez NO “Public” ROM available Bag Boy (bB) by “KevKelley” Bike Warriors by “gfvh” Black Jack Theta VIII by “azure” Castle of Doom (bB) by Chris Read “atari2600land” (updated from 2015) Castle of the Cryptid by “Buckaroo” ChaoticGrill (Burgertime) by “splendidnut” (updated from 2015) demo’d at 2018 PRGE at AA booth Choplifter! (bB) by Fehér János Zoltán “MemberAtarian” Choplifter! by Flavio Nunez NO “Public” ROM available Dare Devil (bB) by Lewis Hill "Muddyfunster" Disc Donk (bB) by B.J. Best “bjbest60” {Best Games} Distopia (bB) by Fehér János Zoltán “MemberAtarian” Dragon Racer: Trials of the Wyrm (bB) by “Revontuli” Dragon’s Descent (bB) by “Revontuli” El Alquimista (bB) (The Alchemist) by “Fdx” Falling Sky (bB) by “bogax” Guns'n Corpses by “gfvh” Jumpity by William Pilgrim "Nowhere Man" Kelly Kangaroo (bB) by Denebola Interactive KnightGuy in LowRes World by John Von Neumann Lights Out by “mcmartin” Low Res Racer by John Von Neumann Magimaze (bB) by B.J. Best “bjbest60” {Best Games} Ms. Galactopus by “KaeruYojimbo” (updated from 2016) Nyan Cat by “JeremiahK” Orb (bB) by Ed Riley "winkdot" (updated from 2015) Pac-Man 2600 8K by “DINTAR816” <updated> Peril by John Von Neumann Phantoms of the Dark (was Flicker of Light) (bB) by Justin Gibson “waderain” Please Save My Baby (bB) by Jeff Stermer “ultima” Point Procurer beta by BJ Best Quantum Tunnel (bB) by Jared Gray West “graywest” Railslider (bB) by “Lillapojkenpåön” Resident Evil 2 (bB) <demake> by Jeff Stermer “ultima” Robo-Ninja Climb by “gauauu” demo’d at 2018 PRGE at AA booth RoboMechanik by Krzysztof Kluczek “KK/Altair” demo’d at 2018 PRGE at AA booth Robot X (bB) by “goofyblocks” Robot Zed (bB) by Chris Spry “Sprybug” demo’d at 2018 PRGE at AA booth Seaquest II by Flavio Nunez NO “Public” ROM available Shark Jaws + (bB) by Ed Riley "winkdot" Shifty Lifty Plus (bB) by Ross Adkin “TidusRenegade” Skee-Ball (bB) by Michael Salzman "Dethfactor” Spies in the Night 2 (bB) by Jared Gray West “graywest” Stranded (bB) by “OldAtAtari” (abandoned?) Temple Runner (bB) by Ross Adkin “TidusRenegade” was Escape From Kukuku Temple The Cabin (bB) by “Odourman” The Quest (bB) by “Lewis2907” Tombstones (bB) by B.J. Best “bjbest60” - will be available at 8-Bit Classics Tower of Rubble by Dion Olsthoorn "Dionoid" Toyshop Terminator (bB) (was Christmas Cookie Cutter) by Karl Garrison UT2600 by “MLdB” (updated from 2016) Wal-Rush 2: Tick Tusk (bB) by “JWalrus” White Water Madness (bB) by Chris Read “atari2600land” Wizard of Wor Arcade by John W. Champeau {Champ Games} demo’d at 2018 PRGE at AA booth 2018 Hacks: Active Shooter (Turmoil hack) by James Catalano “JamCat Reloaded” ALF (Taz hack) by Scott Dayton {NEO Games} & James Catalano “JamCat Reloaded” - available thru Repentless Video Games Alien Greed Jump (Amoeba Jump hack) by Scott Dayton Alien Lifeform (King Kong hack) by Scott Dayton - available thru Repentless Video Games NO “Public” ROM available Alien Revenge! Halloween Hack (was Monster’s Revenge) (Alien Revenge! hack) by Edward A. Smith “easmith” – sold out at Good Deal Games Alien Turmoil (Turmoil hack) by James Catalano “JamCat Reloaded” Alien Visitors Are Our Friends ["V"] (Cosmic Ark hack) by “doctorclu” Anorak's Adventure (Adventure hack) by “Knarfian” Asteroid Belt (Turmoil hack) by James Catalano “JamCat Reloaded” Batman (Popeye hack) by James Catalano “JamCat Reloaded” Battle Checkers (Checkers hack) by James Francis "Out_of_Gas" Battlestar Galactica (Space Attack hack) by “doctorclu” Battlestar Galactica NEO (Space Attack hack) by Scott Dayton Beer Capture (Flag Capture hack) by “TheHoboInYourRoom” Bentley Bear's Honey Heist (Donkey Kong Hack) by James Catalano “JamCat Reloaded” Berzerk Blast (Turmoil hack) by James Catalano “JamCat Reloaded” Berzerk NEO Version 2 (Berzerk hack) by Scott Dayton - available thru Repentless Video Games Boringly Superbly Fair Dragster (Dragster hack) by “Omegamatrix” Bouncer (Boing! hack) by Scott Dayton {NEO Games} - sold out NO “Public” ROM available Broadside (Combat hack) by Claudio Salvucci {CDS Games} - available thru the AtariAge forums Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (Buck Rogers hack) by “doctorclu” Cat Attack! (Pooyan hack) by James Catalano “JamCat Reloaded” Daredevil: Blackwing's Nightmare (Spider-Man hack) by James Francis "Out_of_Gas" Dawn of the Dead (Worm War I hack) by Scott Dayton - available thru Repentless Video Games Enigma Of Mars (Riddle Of The Sphinx Hack) by James Catalano “JamCat Reloaded” Extinction (Demon Attack hack) by Scott Dayton - available thru Repentless Video Games Flag Capture NEO (Flag Capture hack) by Scott Dayton Freddy’s Fear Factory (Cake Walk hack) by Scott Dayton – available thru Repentless Video Games NO “Public” ROM available Hole Hunter (diagonal fix hack) by “Lucky Man” Hyper Joust (Turmoil hack) by James Catalano “JamCat Reloaded” If Rob Kudla Met Todd Frye (Ms. Pac-Man hack) by “Wolfy Danger” Infestation (Jr. Pac Man hack) by James Catalano “JamCat Reloaded” Ketchup Kaboom! (Kaboom! hack) by Scott Dayton {NEO Games} - sold out Klax Color Hack (Klax hack) by “Omegamatrix” Mars Explorer (Jr. Pac-Man hack) by James Catalano “JamCat Reloaded” Miner 2049er Faster (Miner 2049er hack) by Thomas Jentzsch (speed up hack), “OmegaMatrix” (reset bug fix), and “doctorclu” (sprite hack) MissADVENTURE (Adventure hack) by Alan W. Smith - available thru Good Deal Games Monster’s Revenge! (Alien Revenge hack) by Edward A. Smith “easmith” Moon Patrol Arcade DC (Doctor Clu) Version (Moon Patrol+ hack) by “doctorclu” Nitemare (Megamania hack) by Scott Dayton - available thru Repentless Video Games Outatime (Dragster hack) by Lee Kebler "keebz" Pepper Penguin (Birds and Beans hack) by “bluswimmer” on the Retron 77 (1st update) Pirates of the Caribbean (Popeye hack) by James Catalano “JamCat Reloaded” Prison Moon (Sky Skipper hack) by Scott Dayton Pumpkinhead (Frankenstein’s Monster hack) by Scott Dayton – available at Repentless Video Games Q*Bert Jump (Amoeba Jump hack) by Scott Dayton – released at Free Play Florida 2018 NO “Public” ROM available Santa Bros. (Mario Bros. hack) by Scott Dayton – sold out private sale NO “Public” ROM available Santa HERO (H.E.R.O. hack) by Scott Dayton Santa HERO ET (H.E.R.O. hack) by Scott Dayton Scraper Caper w/ Bounty Bob (Fire Fighter hack) by “doctorclu” Space Foxes (MMSBC hack) by Jason Schelhorn and Ricky Henry (of Electric Tapes) - released at Mountain State Pop Expo (proceeds go to the Children's Home Society of West Virginia) NO “Public” ROM available Space Invaders Blue (Space Invaders hack) by Scott Dayton Stargate Desert Raid (River Raid hack) by “DevKK” and “Whip” Stranger Things – Barb’s Revenge (Dig Dug hack) by “keebz” Sub Strike (Turmoil hack) by James Catalano “JamCat Reloaded” Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (Halloween hack) by Scott Dayton – available at Repentless Video Games NO “Public” ROM available The Thing (Alien hack) by Scott Dayton – available at Repentless Video Games Tron: Bit Frenzy (Dr. Flin and His Pills hack) by Scott Dayton TRON Saves Atari With Trackers (Fast Eddie hack) by Scott Dayton - available thru Repentless Video Games TRON Saves Atari No Trackers (Fast Eddie hack) by Scott Dayton - available thru Repentless Video Games U.F.O. Galaxian (Galaxian Hack) by James Catalano “JamCat Reloaded” Wings of Death (Seaquest hack) by Scott Dayton AtariAge Trak-ball hacks released: Centipede, Millipede, Reactor, Plaque Attack, Star Wars: The Arcade Game, Missile Command, SpaceMaster X7, Challenge of Nexar, Colony 7, Missile Control 2018 Demos: AcidRain by “Jeremiah” & “Kno1” - 5th at Nordlicht 2018 Alpha Cucks by “Dentifrice” - 3rd at Silly Venture 2018 Compofiller by “g0blinish” - 4th at Silly Venture 2018 Dengue Fever by Digital Sounds System & “Flush” - 1st at High Coast Hack 2018 Happy 2019 (bB) by John Von Neumann Hard 2632 by “Imp” & “SvOlli” - 1st at Deadline (Berlin) 2018 (there is a default Demo game built it) Lapin Kulta by “Dentifrice” - 2nd at Simulaatio 2018 M by “Flush” - 2nd at Silly Venture 2018 Mushroom Adventure by “Satori” - 2nd at Riverwash 2018 Ram @tack by “Trope” - 2nd at @party 2018 Stella A Trois by “Flush” - 3rd at Revision 2018 Three Minus by “altair” - 1st at Silly Venture 2018 2018 Technical Achievement Award: Hard 2632 by “Imp” & “SvOlli” - 1st at Deadline (Berlin) 2018 Gray Screen with no Music by “Tjoppen” Aardvark for a 32 pixel sprite that smoothly enters, traverses and exits the length of the color changing playfield (both single line) without using HMOVE blanks, WSYNCs or using extra sprite data Aardvark for alternating playfield priority to create transparency effect (sun/moon shining through the clouds) Mappy for Player and Enemy anti-flicker code Mappy for the 85 pixel multicolor title screen Mappy title screen BIN (by Thomas Jentz.)
  37. 1 point

    004 - Cybermorph

    Cybermorph Published:1993 by Atari Corporation Developed by Attention To Detail (ATD) "Good luck." These are the first words that the player hears when their morphing T-Griffon unfolds on a remote planet. And Atari needed all the luck it could get when the Jaguar launched to limited markets in the winter of 1993. The odds were stacked against the once-giant of the industry. Atari released the Jaguar to a crowded market where the SNES and Genesis dominated and other consoles from SNK, 3DO, Phillips and others competed for shelf space. Further, next generation consoles from Sega and Sony were looming on the horizon. More than luck, Atari needed something special to show the prowess of its new 64-bit machine. What they had was Cybermorph - the Jaguar's oft-derided pack-in. It is perhaps most famous for Skylar, the game's green-faced guide well known for the apparently meme-worthy phrase "Where did you learn to fly?" When I first got my Jaguar I was quite pleased with Cybermorph. I thought the morphing ship, full 3D exploration and Skylar were all great. In '94, it was one of the more interesting and advanced games that I had ever played. So, how does it stack up today? Graphics: The graphics in Cybermorph are quite bland. The planets have dull, oddly colored landscapes and dark skies. The landscapes are sparsely populated with pods, trees, mountains, roads and enemies. Everything in the game is made up of Gouraud shaded polygons. At the time of its release, the in-hardware use of Gouraud shading was a technological advance over the flat shaded polygons found in many computer and console games. It can be a really cool effect when implemented well. Unfortunately, the art-style in Cybermorph leaves a lot to be desired. Aside from Skylar and your ship, the aforementioned T-Griffon, it does not appear that much care or imagination went into Cybermorph's polygonal models. Enemies are not very exciting and the trees and buildings that dot the landscape look like they were designed by a first grader. Draw distances are quite limited and pop-up can be a real problem. If you're moving too quickly, it is very easy to run into a mountain or other obstacle. On the bright side, I've always liked Skylar and the shape-shifting T-Griffon is cool. Sound/Music: Cybermorph lacks in the audio department. There is music at start-up that begins with a punch and devolves into a weird "smooth jazz" type thing. There is no in-game music at all. The fully voiced Skylar is impressive. Most impressive. The only people that will be annoyed by her haven't bothered to learn how to play the game. If you're hearing "Where did you learn to fly?" over and over again, you're doing it wrong! The ship sounds, weapons fire and crash noises are sufficiently "spacey" but aren't very imaginative. You've heard better whooshes and blasts in a hundred different games. Overall, the audio and sound effects feel underwhelming. Gameplay: The most interesting aspect of Cybermorph's gameplay is that it offers the player full 3D exploration. This was novel in 1993. Unfortunately, the world design and missions don't leverage this very well. As mentioned above, the game's worlds are sparsely populated. While there is plenty to blow up, there are also slow periods of inactivity and exploration. This would be interesting if the landscape offered more than tiny trees, the occasional building and oddly colored mountains and canyons. As it is, it is a bit of a snooze fest. Game worlds are also pretty small; it is easy to traverse a level at speed within a few minutes. Game missions lack variety and mostly involve collecting yellow pods. If this doesn't sound exciting, that's because it isn't. The gameplay just doesn't have a lot of depth. Control takes some getting used to, but I've always found it tight and responsive. In my view, Cybermorph is best played with a light touch and at slower speeds. Doing so helps to avoid Skylar's warnings and prevents overshooting targets and pods. Cybermorph also makes use of the overlay. Weapons selection is easily toggled using the top row (1-3) and multiple views are available using the rest of the pad. Overall: Did I enjoy playing Cybermorph? Yes. Despite its many shortcomings, the game does offer some fun and a romp down memory lane. That said, the game just feels undercooked. The lack of music, rudimentary level design and boring landscapes leave a lot to be desired. It's hardly good enough to be a flagship title. Fortunately, the Jaguar CD sequel Battlemorph is superior in every way. Final verdict: As the Jaguar's pack-in title, Cybermorph has earned a place in video game and Atari history. It is inextricably linked to the legacy of Atari's last console. As such, it's a must have for the Atari Jaguar collector. That said, the repetitive missions, lack of in-game music and bland graphics make the game hard to recommend from the player's perspective. There is fun here but the Jaguar has a host of tank-style 3D games and Cybermorph ranks pretty low on that list. Thanks for reading and please share your opinions and memories of Cybermorph in the comments! The next game is: Robinson's Requiem
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