1 pointRE: 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
1 pointHi 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
1 pointThe 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.
1 pointWelcome to the first "annex" entry into the gaming notebook. 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
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