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    MalakZero reacted to Sabertooth for a blog entry, Annex 002 - Rikki & Vikki (Atari 7800)   
    Welcome to the second "annex" entry of the Game Cave.  In this entry, I'll discuss the PenguiNet game Rikki & Vikki for the Atari 7800.  
    Rikki & Vikki was a surprise release on Steam (12/2018) and the 7800 in February 2019 from PenguiNet.  Some of you may be familiar with PenguiNet for their amazing work on Zaku for the Lynx; arguably one of the best original titles on the platform.  Zaku really pushed the Lynx and stands as a tremendously fun, graphically stunning and amazing sounding game.  For Rikki & Vikki, PenguiNet continues in that tradition, delivering an original gaming experience on a classic console that largely exceeds Atari published efforts in key areas of gameplay, graphics and sound.  Make no mistake - this is not a homebrew.  This is a professionally developed game with a high level of production value and a stellar physical product.  Now for some impressions & observations! 
    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.  
    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.
    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. 
    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:  

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    MalakZero reacted to Atari 5200 Guy for a blog entry, Star Raiders (Atari 5200)   
    Strapped inside the cockpit of your starship, looking out into space, you see a star moving. After a few seconds of watching, the star turns into an enemy Basestar...and it has sent out its best starfighters to destroy you. Red alarms start to go off as your radar shows the enemy attempting to out flank you. An enemy starfighter appears right in your line of sight. You take the shot by firing your photon torpedoes. A direct hit!! Somehow you managed to miss the fire of another starfighter, which has started to come back at you again, while taking down the first starfighter. You line up the enemy in your crosshairs and fire. Seconds seem like minutes waiting to see if your aim was good. Another direct hit! The only thing to do now is to destroy that Basestar. You increase your engine speeds. Within seconds the Basestar is in your crosshairs and firing its weapons at you. You send blast after blast of photon torpedoes, some shots missing while others are hitting their target, until the Basestar explodes. With the area cleared you look at your Galactic Map and head for another sector with more approaching enemies. Your adventure in Star Raiders has just begun full force.
    Appearing first on the Atari 400 and 800 home computers, the 5200 received one of Atari's most enduring and engaging space battle games ever created. For its time the game was way more advanced than any arcade game on the market and was one of the first space games that concentrated more on strategy than anything else. Star Raiders on the 5200 is absolutely brilliant. While it may not push the capabilities of the system to its limits it does make full use of the 5200's analog controls and immerses the player into a space battle they will not soon forget.
    Compared to the simplistic style of Atari's joysticks on the home computers, and 2600 for that matter, the 5200's controls in Star Raiders allow for precise movement to help the player line up their shot. The more the joystick is moved in any direction the more the ship moves. The movement is very fluid like but effective and in the player's favor. Of course the game does pause when you need to take a break for whatever reason and Reset will take you back to the Mission Select screen where you can challenge the game at various difficulty settings.
    Where the game can get complicated is with the keypad controls. This is the only game I am aware of that places the keypad on double duty. In SPEED MODE the keypad buttons correspond to the ship's traveling speed. For example; button 1 sets the starship's speed at 1. In CONTROL MODE the keypad becomes a mini-computer and control console. This is where the heart of Star Raiders lies. From view settings to setting shields and tracking controls to viewing the Galactic Map and activating Hyperspace to warp to other sectors are all done at the press of the corresponding button on the controller keypad. The keypad controls may take some time to get use to but once they are learned the game becomes easier to navigate.
    The manual included with Star Raiders is a 35-page manual with only one page dedicated to a high score recording table. The rest is all about playing the game. This easily makes it the most documented instruction manual of any 5200 game, period. A lot of work went into making sure that not only did the game play good but that the player had enough information to learn how to play the game. Nothing was left out. Atari went so far as to tell how the score is calculated in the game.
    Star Raiders is one of those games that set a new standard and could easily be declared one of the first space-style first-person shooters. The game play in Star Raiders is so intense, engulfing, enticing, and engaging, that after one round it's hard to avoid playing another round. Star Raiders, win or lose, leaves the player feeling satisfied. If it sounds like I am placing game above all others then you, my dear reader, would be correct.
    You see, Star Raiders was one of the first titles I would pick up after the holiday season I got my 5200. At 7 years old I was kicking Zylon butt. For years I played this game more than any other until during a move it got lost. I managed to find one, new in the box, about 5 years or so ago. And I was overly excited. Star Raiders, unlike any other game, has been, and remains, my all-time favorite console video game. I like Mario, I enjoy Sonic, and I like my NES and love my Dreamcast, but Star Raiders on the 5200 is my main game. I've had the 8-bit version as well and, while it is essentially the same game, I prefer the analog controls on the 5200.
    So for those that have wondered about this game before, and have never played it, try to pick one up new in the box. I know their are new copies still available somewhere. I mention new in box because you really need the keypad overlays and you might even need the instructions if you are new to this game. This game is a blast to play and I believe that fans of shumps are going to enjoy this ride.
    Grab your 5200 controller, a sandwich and drink, and strap yourself in for one heck of a ride. Then join the rest of us Star Raiders in freeing the galaxy of unwanted Zylon scum! Welcome to the fleet, Cadet, and good luck! You're going to need it.
  3. Like
    MalakZero reacted to Clint Thompson for a blog entry, Tempest 2000's Digital Terror   
    Roland this, Roland that. Give me reverb and MIDI stat!

    I think it may be possible to come up with some sort of tasty Tempest 2000 soundtrack replications of sorts or maybe even a mashup. Still waiting on a few more bits to be added before I can really dive in but I like it =D
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