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Justin

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    Justin reacted to kamakazi20012 for a blog entry, 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!!
  2. Thanks
    Justin reacted to kamakazi20012 for a blog entry, 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.
  3. Like
    Justin reacted to Atari Creep for a blog entry, You are ALL my children now!!!   
    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.
     
     
  4. Thanks
    Justin reacted to atarilbc for a blog entry, Annex 002 - Rikki & Vikki (Atari 7800)   
    Welcome to the second "annex" entry of the Gaming Notebook.  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:  
     

  5. Like
    Justin reacted to StormSurge for a blog entry, 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. 😀)
  6. Like
    Justin reacted to kamakazi20012 for a blog entry, 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.
  7. Like
    Justin reacted to kamakazi20012 for a blog entry, Atari 7800 - Top 10 Games   
    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. 
  8. Like
    Justin reacted to Atari Creep for a blog entry, The Terminators .45 Long Slide With Laser Sighting.   
    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
     
  9. Like
    Justin reacted to StormSurge for a blog entry, 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.
     











  10. Like
    Justin reacted to kamakazi20012 for a blog entry, Borderlands 2 Game Play Series   
    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.
  11. Like
    Justin reacted to StormSurge for a blog entry, 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/

  12. Like
    Justin reacted to Atari Creep for a blog entry, 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!
     
     
  13. Like
    Justin reacted to StormSurge for a blog entry, 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!
     
  14. Like
    Justin reacted to atarilbc for a blog entry, 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!
     
  15. Like
    Justin reacted to atarilbc for a blog entry, 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!
  16. Like
    Justin reacted to atarilbc for a blog entry, 009 - Syndicate   
    Syndicate
    Published: 1994 by Ocean
    Developed: Bullfrog
     
    Syndicate began life as a fairly popular overhead RTS on the PC and Amiga. The goal of Syndicate is to build the wealth, power and territory of your criminal enterprise through a combination of force, persuasion, taxation and research. The depth and novelty of the game led to a host of conversions. The last time I tried to play Syndicate was over 20 years ago and I was not at all impressed. In the intervening years, I've read that this game - including the Jaguar version - was generally well received and is thought by some to be a forebearer to the original GTA.
     
    Is the Jaguar version of Syndicate a solid translation of the computer classic? Or would it have better been left to a keyboard and mouse? Read on to find out!
     

     
    Gameplay: You start the game with a world map from which you select the territory you need to conquer. The more territory that you control, the more population and taxes collected. This leads to funds that you can use to buy intelligence during mission briefings, purchase equipment, or research enhancements for your agents. Once you select a territory, you are brought to a mission briefing. After accepting the mission, you get to select and equip a team of up to 4 agents, which you control in-game. "Control" in Syndicate is a relative term.
     
    I'm primarily a console gamer. As such, I expect game controls to be fairly intuitive. I want to be able to jump right in and start playing without looking through a manual. If I do read the manual, it should be to clarify some nuance or quirk of the game's features. Syndicate is not that type of game. From menu options to in-game controls, Syndicate requires the player to not only read the manual, but to study it.
     
    To make up for its lack of a keyboard, this computer conversion uses all of the buttons on the Jagpad. That's right, all three action buttons, plus the twelve buttons on the keypad. Because that's not enough for the actions in Syndicate, there are even button combinations that are required for certain actions. Want to zoom in? Press C+1. Need to deselect a weapon? That's C+9. All in all, I counted 26 possible actions available in-game. These are listed on pages 16-18 of the manual. Needless to say, I kept the manual handy so I had some idea what I needed to do. If that sounds tedious, that's because it is. The complexity literally stripped much of the joy and excitement out of playing this game.
     
    Once in the game, I found the onscreen movement clunky. I've played a number of point and click RTS games and this just doesn't flow for me.
     

     
    Graphics: The graphics in Syndicate are a bloody mess. The game world is presented in an isometric perspective that hampers navigation and can hide enemies and targets from view. The player's squad of agents, cops, enemies and targets are represented by blocky low-res sprites that look pretty bad no matter what your zoom. Some of the game maps are interesting from a distance, but lose detail and refinement when zoomed in. Scrolling across the play field is somewhat choppy and the onscreen action is anything but fluid. The in-game map is nearly useless as it's hard to differentiate between the different NPCs. There are some fun death animations, so that's something.
     
    Sound/Music: The music in Syndicate consists of dark synthy chip tunes that I suppose are befitting the dystopian future of the game world. It isn't terrible but it also isn't memorable. The game's sound effects are pretty limited. In a word: average.
     
    Overall: Syndicate on the Jaguar is a clunky RTS that is low on fun and high in tedium. It may have been highly regarded in its day, but there a far superior RTS experiences out there. Ultimately, the potential of the game's concept is undermined by the clunky control interface and lackluster graphics.
     
    Final Verdict: If it's not yet clear, Syndicate was not my cup of tea. The overly complicated control scheme made playing the game a chore. Maybe it works well on a PC, but on the Jaguar I mark this one down for collectors only.
     
    Thanks for reading and please share your memories and thoughts on Syndicate in the comments below! I'm particularly interested in hearing from those of you who enjoyed the game - either on the Jaguar or another platform.
     
    The next game is from my recent Readers' Choice post and comes courtesy of The Professor: Ultra Vortek! Thanks to The Professor and RickR for the suggestions!
     

  17. Like
    Justin reacted to atarilbc for a blog entry, 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
     

  18. Like
    Justin reacted to atarilbc for a blog entry, 007 - Super Burnout   
    Super Burnout
    Published: 1995 by Atari in association with Virtual Xperience
    Developed by Shen Technologies SARL
     
    Super Burnout is 2D sprite-based motorcycle racer in the tradition of Sega's Hang-On. Published by Atari in 1995 and developed by first-time French developer Shen Technologies SARL, Super Burnout is viewed by many Jaguar gamers as one of the system's hidden gems. The silky smooth framerate, incredible sprite scaling, and tight controls stand in stark contrast to those of other Jaguar racers like Supercross 3D, Club Drive, and the infamous Checkered Flag. Indeed, it is not uncommon to see Super Burnout on the top ten lists of many Jaguar owners.
     
    Does Super Burnout deserve its place in the pantheon of the big cat's best games? Let's take this turbo charged title out on the track and find out!
     
    Gameplay: In Super Burnout, players race any one of six sport bikes along eight tracks against competing computer controlled bikes or a human competitor via split screen. From the main menu, players have a choice to either start the game or go into options. Starting the game will take you into the last setting used for the game, including game mode, computer AI and bike. Going into options will allow the player to select a bike, game mode, control and lap options and set enemy AI. The developers would have done well to open with the options menu but this is a small complaint.
     
    There are multiple modes of play, including: Championship, Trainer, Record and two-player Versus mode. Championship mode is the main game and takes players to tracks in America, France, Germany, Hungary, Brazil, Australia, Canada and Japan. Unlike arcade-style racers, there is no time challenge, checkpoint or placing requirement for progression to the next race. You can finish last in each race and progress through the end of the game. Some players might appreciate that, but I like the challenge of unlocking tracks. In other modes, players can select their desired track. Trainer mode allows you to practice a track and improve your strategy; Record mode is a "time attack" against your best time; and, Versus mode is two-player, split screen action.
     
    Each of the eight tracks has different characteristics; from long high speed runs, to gentle bends, to highly technical, hairpin turns. This makes your bike selection critical. You're stuck with the bike you chose at the outset, so choose wisely as each bike has different grip, acceleration and speed characteristics. It would have been cool to have some customization available or upgrading system, but alas...
     

     
    Control is tight and responsive. Players use the d-pad left/right to steer the bike and control lean. The B button handles acceleration and A serves as the brake. If you opt to use the manual transmission, you'll need to use the C button and up/down on the d-pad to shift. I found this to be cumbersome and stuck to automatic gear selection.
     
    Super Burnout does not reward pure speed. You cannot just put pedal to the metal and finish in the top 3. The game demands that you let up on the gas, time leans and apply the brake strategically. This requires that you spend time with each bike and each track to learn their nuances. Start a turn too late and you'll end up flying face first down the side of the road. These elements make Super Burnout easy to pick-up but difficult to master.
     
    Graphics: Super Burnout has some beautifully rendered 2D sprites and runs at a rock solid 60 fps. Moving 2D sprites is what the Jaguar was meant to do and Super Burnout throws hundreds of sprites on the screen without breaking a sweat. Player sprites are huge and nicely done. Trees, barriers, buildings, and crowds look great and whiz by at a fast pace giving you a terrific sense of speed. Impressively, Versus mode maintains the graphic quality in split-screen, although at the cost of in-game music.
     
    The look of the tracks are somewhat generic, with the exception of the type of tree used and some background graphics. For example, in Brazil you get palms and in Japan you get cherry blossoms. Similarly, the Sydney Opera House makes an appearance in the Australia track, while Hungary has a hillside castle - cause that's a thing unique to Hungary, I guess. These are nice touches but more could have been done to make each country more distinctive. A few of the tracks feature night racing, which is pretty cool. Otherwise, roadside barriers, crowds and buildings are reused or slightly modified from track to track. Objects on either side of the track are only one layer deep and are very repetitive.
     

     
    Sound/Music: The music in Super Burnout is a high point. Each screen and race track has its own composition. The music style is hard to put a finger on, but most in-game music has a decent rhythm and funky bass. The quality is excellent and easily rivals CD audio. Sound FX are less impressive. The engine sounds are convincing but, other than the announcer and faint crowd roar, that's all you'll hear. There are no screeching tires, burnt rubber or crash sounds. More could have been done to flesh out the effects. That said, in sum sound and music are among the Jaguar's best .
     
    Overall: Super Burnout is a solid if somewhat shallow racer. The game looks good, sounds good and controls well but it is otherwise very straightforward. Arcade-style time challenges, checkpoints and bike customization/upgrades may have done more to flesh out the game.
     
    Final Verdict: As a technical achievement and an example of how the Jaguar handles 2D, Super Burnout is a showpiece. It's arguably the best racer on the system and is enjoyable in both single-player or versus mode. I hesitate to call it a "must-have" but if you like sport bikes and racing games, it's well worth your time.
     
    Thanks for reading and please share your memories and thoughts on Super Burnout in the comments below! Do you think it's a "must have" for the Jaguar?
     
    Next Up: Zoop
     

  19. Like
    Justin reacted to atarilbc for a blog entry, 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

  20. Like
    Justin reacted to Arenafoot for a blog entry, 2017 Atari VCS/2600 Homebrew List (as of 3/5/17)   
    This is just this year and just for the Atari VCS/2600.............
    2017
    Homebrews released
    Jan. 4, 2017 - Toledo Atomchess (AtariAge forum)
    Jan. 7, 2017 - Pixels (AtariAge forum)
    Jan. 23, 2017 - Dungeon II: Solstice (AtariAge forum)
    Feb. 6, 2017 - Eagle One (AtariAge forum)
    Mar. 2, 2017 - Sharknado - NeoGames (Atari 2600 Homebrew FB group)
     
    Hacks released
    1/6/17 - Tapper - Portable (AtariAge forums) - Thomas Jentzsch
    1/6/17 - Budweiser Tapper hack - Portable (AtariAge forums) - Thomas Jentzsch
    1/6/17 - Missile Control TB (AtariAge forums) - Thomas Jentzsch
    1/15/17 - Popeye hack (AtariAge forums) - ILA2600
    1/20/17 - Gee Bee Barnstorming (AtariAge forums) - Jamcat
    1/20/17 - Zeppelin Barnstorming (AtariAge forums) - Jamcat
    1/20/17 - Copter Barnstorming (AtariAge forums) - Jamcat
    1/20/17 - Powered Glider Barnstorming (AtariAge forums) - Jamcat
    1/20/17 - Activision Dragster Hot Wheels Hack (AtariAge forums) - Jamcat
    1/21/17 - Astromech Soccer (AtariAge forums) - Jamcat
    1/21/17 - Berzerk Robot Soccer (AtariAge forums) - Jamcat
    1/21/17 - Dalek Soccer (AtariAge forums) - Jamcat
    1/21/17 - Lost in Space Soccer (AtariAge forums) - Jamcat
    1/21/17 - Astromech Tennis (AtariAge forums) - Jamcat
    1/21/17 - Dalek Tennis (AtariAge forums) - Jamcat
    1/21/17 - Lost in Space Tennis (AtariAge forums) - Jamcat
    1/22/17 - Star Wars Salvage Run Hack of Jr Pac Man (AtariAge forums) - Jamcat
    1/22/17 - Zerk-Man (Ms. Pac-Man Hack) (AtariAge forums) - Jamcat
    1/22/17 - Zeppelin Attack (Commando Raid Hack) (AtariAge forums) - Jamcat
    1/22/17 - Star Wars Targ (Universal Chaos Hack) (AtariAge forums) - Jamcat
    1/27/17 - Vector Vaders (Megamania hack) (Atari 2600 homebrew FB group) - Scott Dayton
    2/3/17 - Lunar Outpost Defense (M.A.D. Hack) - Jamcat Reloaded
    2/4/17 - Zombie Soccer (RealSports Soccer Hack) - Jamcat Reloaded
    2/6/17 - Mouse Soccer (RealSports Soccer Hack) - Jamcat Reloaded
    2/8/17 - Grave Robber (Gopher Hack) - Jamcat Reloaded
    2/17/17 - Marble Craze TB (trak-ball hack) - Thomas Jentzsch
    2/18/17 - The Passion of Jesus (Red Sea Crossing hack) - Atari Dogs
    2/19/17 - Fonz Enduro (hack) - Out_of_Gas
    2/22/17 - Adventure Kingdoms (hack) - ZenBiped
    2/26/17 - Flying Monkey Joust (hack) - Jamcat Reloaded
    2/26/17 - Gyrocopter Joust (hack) - Jamcat Reloaded
    2/26/17 - Jetpack Joust (hack) - Jamcat Reloaded
    2/26/17 - Mario Bros. Joust (Joust hack) - Jamcat Reloaded
    2/26/17 - Rocket Joust (hack) - Jamcat Reloaded
    2/26/17 - Sea Monster Joust (hack) - Jamcat Reloaded
    2/26/17 - Space Invader Joust (Joust hack) - Jamcat Reloaded
    2/26/17 - Zeppelin Joust (hack) - Jamcat Reloaded
    3/4/17 - When Pigs Fly (Joust hack) - Jamcat Reloaded
     
    Releasing Soon (actual software)
    Soon - The Celery Game - Chris Read & Tim Duarte of 2600 Connection
    Demo'd At 2016 PRGE/releasing soon - Scramble, The Stacks, Anguna 2600, Drive!, Assembloids 2600,
    L.E.M., Golden Legends (Gauntlet 2600), The Gizzle Wap and The Strange Red Tree - AtariAge
    Soon - Dark Cavern (hack) - Scott Dayton
    Soon - Fire Ants - ComiSoft Inc.
    Soon - Twist'r-Shark (was "Sharknado") - NeoGames
    Soon - Balloon Girl - Jason Santuci
    Soon - Legends - Scott Dayton
    ??? - Alien Greed: Return of Charles - NeoGames
    ??? - RAM-Pong - Packrat Games
    ??? (carts signed Feb 2015) - Demons (based on the 1985 movie) - NeoGames
    On Hold - Tunnels & Trolls - Jason Santuci
    ??? - Zombie Road Kill - Scott Dayton
    ??? - Aaron the Aant - Chris Read/2600Connection
    previewed at 2015 Portland Retro Gaming Expo - The Stacks, Panky the Panda - AtariAge
    WIP - Laughing Boy - Jason Santuci/AtariAge
    WIP - D.K. VCS, DK Arcade 2600, Pac Man 8k, Wizard of Wor 2: The Arena - AtariAge
    Future project - Colony 7 TB (Trak-Ball version) - Thomas Jentzsch
     
    WIP (work in progress during 2017)
    Dec. 31, 2016 - PArsec - hloberg
    Jan. 11, 2017 - Avalanche Invaders (hack of Avalanche) - Scott Dayton
    Jan. 22, 2017 - Dungeon II: Solstice - s0c7
    Jan. 23, 2017 - Danny - The Maxx
    Feb. 3, 2017 - Air Taxi - Kylearan
    Feb. 6, 2017 - Space Cactus Canyon beta - bjbest
    Mar. 4, 2017 - Chaotic Grill (better Burgertime) - splendidnut - back working on it
  21. Like
    Justin reacted to kamakazi20012 for a blog entry, January 2017 Game Pickups   
    Hope you enjoy the video! Thanks for watching.
  22. Like
    Justin reacted to kamakazi20012 for a blog entry, My Top 5 Favorite Game Consoles   
    Here they are! The 5 video game consoles I enjoy the most.
     

     
    Hope you enjoy the video!
  23. Like
    Justin reacted to atarilbc for a blog entry, 003 - Pinball Fantasies   
    Pinball Fantasies
    Published: 1995 by Twenty First Century Entertainment
    Developed by Spidersoft Limited
     
    Released in 1995, Pinball Fantasies is a Jaguar conversion of the 1992 Commodore Amiga game of the same name. Billed as a “pinball simulator”, Pinball Fantasies features four tables and semi-realistic play. In addition to the Amiga and Jaguar versions, Pinball Fantasies saw release on the Amiga CD32, Super NES, DOS and Gameboy. The game has also appeared in compilations on platforms as varied as iOS and PS3.
     
    The Jaguar version of Pinball Fantasies is notable as one of only a handful of Jaguar titles published by a third-party company; Twenty First Century Entertainment. In the Jaguar’s library, it competes against Atari’s own Ruiner Pinball for the system's coveted pinball crown.
     
    Pinball Fantasies is a game that I have not spent a lot of time with over the years. Outside of a few highscore club matches, I rarely plug it in. So I was actually excited to see it pop up on The Gaming Notebook’s randomizer.
     
    Graphics: The graphics in Pinball Fantasies are competent. The layout of the four tables is well designed and the art is colorful, if bland. The score and ball readout is at the top of the screen and attempts to replicate the dot-matrix score display of a real machine. The ball looks right and moves fluidly around the table on various ramps, rails and loops. On the other hand, aside from some light-up bonuses and bouncing bumpers, there isn’t a lot going on.
     
    The art style on the game tables themselves are somewhat generic. “Partyland” has a carnival theme, “Speed Devils” has a racing theme, “Billion Dollar Game Show” has a game show theme, and “Stones & Bones” has a horror theme. There are no crazy bonuses that set off a myriad of lights. Nor are there any character animations, explosions or other effects that might have been done given the videogame format. It’s all very vanilla. One of the things that I love about actual pinball tables is the over-the-top table art, lights and sound. Those are meant to attract players. The tables here all feel a little sterile. If I were walking through an arcade, I definitely wouldn’t look twice at any of them.
     
    I don’t have the game on any other platform but a quick review of gameplay videos on Youtube leads me to believe that the Jaguar version compares favorably with contemporary ports. Like many of the 16-bit games ported over to the system, the Jaguar versions are typically sharper, with greater color depth and smoother animations.
     
    Sound/Music: The clicks, bumps, pings and rings of classic pinball is well represented in Pinball Fantasies. A true pinball aficionado might find a fault but to my ears, the pinball sounds ring true. In-game music is a mixed bag. I didn’t mind the music in “Speed Devils” or in “Stones & Bones”. In fact, the music in both of those tables is fairly enjoyable. The music on “Billion Dollar Game Show” was inoffensive. I found the music in “Partyland” intolerable. Keeping with the table’s carnival theme, it is music suited only to knife wielding psycho clowns.
     
    Gameplay: In terms of gameplay, Pinball Fantasies is just fine. With the standard control layout, the d-pad is the left flipper and the “B” button is the right flipper. The “A” button can be used to nudge the table and the “C” button launches the ball. It’s pinball so there isn’t a lot to it in terms of control.Like a real table, the tables in Pinball Fantasies are pretty big – too big for a standard tv. In order to accommodate, the field of view is limited to half of a table at a time and scrolls with the ball. You can set the scroll setting to “hard” or “soft”. A “hard” setting makes the action much faster and the scrolling is more jarring. I enjoyed playing with the “soft” scroll although this seems to slow the action somewhat. The game offers two difficulty settings: easy or hard. For me, the combo setting that most felt like real pinball was “hard” with a “soft” scroll.
     
    Game physics seem spot on. The ball doesn’t feel too floaty or too fast the way it can in other video pinball games. This is a high scoring game with generous multipliers and bonuses - typical in pinball. One thing that’s missing is multiple balls. This is likely due to the scrolling nature of the playfield.
     
    Of the four tables, I like "Stones and Bones" the best. It's just interesting enough to make me want to keep playing. "Speed Devils" is also a fun table. The other two are pretty forgettable.
     
    Overall: Pinball Fantasies is an above average video pinball game. It generally replicates the pinball experience at home and I think that was largely the intent for the original game designers. That said, I can’t help but feel that there was a missed opportunity here to leverage the media to not only recreate the pinball experience, but to bring something exciting and fresh to the table.
     
    Final verdict: If you like realistic video pinball, you might enjoy Pinball Fantasies. It definitely lives up to its description as a pinball simulation. If you prefer your video pinball to be a little more fantastical, pass.
     
    Thanks for reading and please share your opinions and memories of Pinball Fantasies in the comments!
     
    The next game is: CYBERMORPH!
     

  24. Like
    Justin reacted to kamakazi20012 for a blog entry, Rarest Console In My Collection Episode 2   
    Here it is! It got done sooner than I expected.
     

  25. Like
    Justin reacted to kamakazi20012 for a blog entry, December 2016 Pick-Ups Episode 1   
    Here it is! My first video into a new adventure. I hope you guys enjoy it.
     

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