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atarilbc

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Everything posted by atarilbc

  1. Happy St. Patrick's Day atari.io!

    Unsurprisingly, this is my only green shirt. ☘️☘️☘️

    IMG_20190317_111551571.jpg

  2. There was an exciting post today over on the Atari Jaguar Facebook page. Apparently, some folks are working on a reproduction of the Jaguar ProController. If you're a Jaguar fan, you know that the ProController vastly improves on the original Jaguar controller in terms of feel and function. Many of the late releases (1995 and beyond) have ProController support that enhances gameplay. Unfortunately, these controllers regularly exceed $200 on eBay, making them out of reach for many gamers. The reproductions will reportedly cost $50-60. They are asking for an interest check now but I'm hopeful that this comes to fruition. Maybe Clint can confirm and provide more information?
  3. I picked up a Hyperkin "The Trooper" controller this week for $15. This is the "improved" version of the controller that shipped with the first run of the Retron 77 last summer. Apparently, Hyperkin took the criticism of their initial controller and improved it for subsequent runs of the Retron 77. In addition, they offer it as a stand alone purchase. I'm not really in the market for a 2600 compatible emulation box but I was interested in the controller. Here are the basic details: Ambidextrous two-button layout Faux "woodgrain" styling 10 ft. cable Angled corners for comfort Traditionally styled joystick I put about two hours on the controller playing a variety of games. For purposes of comparison, I also played the games with an Atari CX-40 (XE version) which I purchased NOS from B&C Computervisions. The games that I played included Berzerk, Ms. Pac-Man, Q-bert, Spider Fighter, Missile Command and Demon Attack. I really wanted to try a cross section of games that put the controller through its paces. Here are my thoughts: Build quality: I've had bad luck with modern 2600 compatible controllers. They frequently break within just a few gaming sessions. The Trooper didn't feel rugged but it doesn't come off as cheap either. The button was more responsive than an Atari CX-40; it felt great. The joystick itself isn't as stiff as a real controller but it didn't feel like it would break. My initial impression is that its a sturdy alternative to some of the other replacements that are on the market. Styling/Design: The first thing I noticed about the control was its angled corners. These are a call back to the Retron itself and its an interesting/handsome look overall. Functionally the corners make the controller slightly more comfortable to hold than a CX-40. The 10 ft. cable is a nice touch and I'm glad to put away my Genesis extensions. The ambidextrous two-button layout is a nice feature but I don't really need it. Its a great inclusion for south paws I suppose. One thing that is a bit off-putting is the faux wood grain. Its a little too orange and doesn't really go with my 4-switch Woody. They might have tried matching the original if they were going through the effort. Control: As I said above, the Trooper didn't feel as stiff as the CX-40. Its a softer overall feeling stick that you don't have to press quite as hard. During my gaming session, I found it to handle diagonals much better than the CX-40. Games like Missile Command and Berzerk were a joy to play. It also fared comparatively well in the shooters Spider Fighter and Demon Attack. The CX-40 had an edge on the 4-way games, particularly Ms. Pac-Man. I found myself missing tight direction changes with the Trooper that I can hit with the CX-40. As I stated above, button response was great; much improved from the CX-40. Overall, I like the Trooper. It seems like a sturdy replacement/spare for 2600 compatible consoles. It stood up well against the CX-40 for most games and the 10 ft. cable and angled corners are a plus. For $15 you can't go wrong. Also, I'm hoping the name is a reference to Iron Maiden. \m/ Have you tried the Trooper? What are your thoughts?
  4. atarilbc

    Battlestar Galactica

    I am a fan of both the original and reboot. The original is just good campy fun. The reboot is much more serious with a deep story and top notch performances. I've watched the reboot series twice over the years. I also enjoyed the spinoff prequel series Caprica. It's too bad they didn't give Caprica a shot at a second season. Sci-Fi (SyFY) cancels so many good shows!
  5. atarilbc

    Hyperkin "The Trooper" Controller

    Thanks, StormSurge. I've heard that the community build of the Retron 77 has really improved the product. I love that folks are working on making it even better. Eventually I'll probably break down and grab it. For now, my 4-switch through a RetroTINK is giving me a great picture with no compatibility issues.
  6. Lunchtime unwind: 87,510.
  7. Lunchtime score: 77,240.
  8. That was a very nice run, Kid A! It's funny that after all of those hazards it was a Bombshell Koopa that got you in the end. I guess it's the nature of old platform games. Who needs boss battles anyway? I'm sure that you'll get past that in another run. Keep it up!
  9. atarilbc

    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!
  10. atarilbc

    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!
  11. What do you think of World Tour Racing on the Jaguar?  Never played it?  Well, it ain't no Checkered Flag. Check out my first blog post since 2017 to share your thoughts or learn more! 

  12. Well, I got back from the office and I'm at it again. I died due to a bad bounce early on but kept playing just to get used to the game. I finally gave up the ghost on World 3-1. Those boulders did a number on me! World 2-3 was a lot of fun. I wasn't expecting a side-scrolling shooter! Looking forward to trying again later this week! I didn't have a Game Boy growing up but I, of course, had friends that did. I don't remember playing this but I did play Link's Awakening. I'll agree with others that there was no beating Nintendo at that time in terms of software. Even today, their original IP is top notch. That said, I tend to like classic arcade games and for that the Lynx (Lynx II) is my hands-down favorite handheld. Joust, Ms. Pac-Man, Pac Land, STUN Runner, Klax, APB, XYBOTS, Xenophobe, Qix, Hydra and Roadblasters are among my favorites. I won't include Super Asteroids/Missile Command as those were updated versions of the originals. We're lucky Atari Corp. and Atari Games (Tengen) still had a decent working relationship or we may not have seen many of those!
  13. Last one before heading to the office to play catch up. 39,680. I switched from the analog sticks to the d-pad on my controller and it made a world of difference.
  14. Second effort: 33,110
  15. I'm in business thanks to RP! Here's my first attempt in Visual Boy Advance with a Logitech F310 controller. 19,200 The one life limit will make things interesting!
  16. Can anyone using an emulator share their rom source?
  17. atarilbc

    Squad Challenge - Battlezone (Atari 2600)

    I wish that I had been paying attention but it looks like I'll just get one score in before the day is up: 57,000 on a 4-switch with a CX-40. What a fantastic game! I always loved this version as it played to the strengths of the 2600. In some ways it's more fun/interesting than the arcade original. Has anyone played the Rebellion update on PS4/VR? It's excellent!
  18. atarilbc

    Witcher 3

    I just finished Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt on PS4. I know that its a few years old but I sat out this generation until this past Black Friday. All I can say is WOW! This is a huge and deep game. It is probably the best western RPG that I've played. It makes me want to read the books! Suffice it to say, for $20 new it does not disappoint.
  19. atarilbc

    New (to me) Car

    When I was out of town for the holidays, I left my car parked with my soon to be ex-wife at the house. Living downtown now, I can't leave it in the same space for more than a day or two. I figure, I still own (and pay for) the driveway, right? She drove it and parked it overnight at a Christmas party where it got sideswiped. The driver didn't leave a note so I had to make a claim under insurance. If it were a normal car, it would've been a fix of about $4,000, but because it was an EV (a LEAF) there are special battery handling requirements that made it a total loss. I was shocked, frankly. So I went a month without a car. I live close to work and bike a lot so it wasn't horrible but getting across town on transit or out to LA or Orange County was a pain. And then there's the rain. So last weekend, after 8 years of driving a zero emission vehicle, I returned to the dark side of fossil fuel with this gently used MINI Cooper S 4-door. The MINI has 189HP and was the closest thing I could find with the zippiness and immediacy of an EV. I will really have to watch my speed though as I keep blowing past 80 without feeling it. They actually have a "speed warning" that you can set to your MPH of choice. It's currently on 90. 😂😂😂 Anyway, a week in and I'm really loving it. It's decidedly retro with chrome toggle switches everywhere and bonnet stripes. It has super tight handling and is a dream on the freeway. It might be too much fun, really. Aside from the red, it's not exactly a midlife crisis car but it's as close as I am likely to get.
  20. atarilbc

    New Gaming Rig

    I finally got a TV stand for my new place and hooked up some of my favorite consoles: a PS4 Pro, AVS, Saturn, Jaguar and 2600. I'm running the classic consoles through a RetroTINK to a 49" Samsung 4K HDR TV. It looks amazing! I did have my 7800 hooked up but the RetroTINK and the LHE mod don't seem to get along too well. After about 20 minutes, I started getting really weird interference. The LHE mod is temperamental so I'm going to try a simple modded 7800 eventually. Anyway, here are a few pictures. The screenshots are from my phone and do not do the picture justice. I also wanted to show my attempt at cable management to get everything off the floor. Because this TV stand has tall legs, it looked really messy at first. I even grabbed a wooden box for the power strips and bricks.
  21. atarilbc

    Ch...ch...ch...changes

    I have been MIA lately due to some major life changes. My wife and I are separating after 15 years and I just recently moved on my own. This all came as a shock to me. I also took on a promotion at work in late August. Between everything going on I've taken a break from gaming to reflect and heal. I'm in a studio loft downtown, so I'm a bit space challenged and will probably not have a rig for awhile. The new TV doesn't have inputs for legacy connections so I'll be getting a Retrotink for composite and S Video. Will post my rig when it's setup. The one thing I'm really pumped on is the loft (space aside). I can now walk to work and I have some pretty amazing views. I didn't ask for a midlife crises but I'm trying to make the most of it. Wanted to share this sunrise photo from this morning. Happy holidays to the Atari.io community! I'll see you in 2019!
  22. atarilbc

    Ch...ch...ch...changes

    Finally getting my place together. I actually have some furniture now! I got my first peice of art for the place today and I'm stoked on that. I am starting from scratch so I have no one to blame for my horrible taste but myself! Still on track to my weight loss goal. I hit a number I haven't seen since 2011. Oh, and I went on my first date in 15 years. It's a brave new world in that regard. Gaming-wise, my Retrotink came last week, as did my TV stand, so tonight I hooked up an S-video modded 7800, Saturn and Jag to my 49" 4K Samung (NU8000). It is incredible. The picture is fantastic; much better than I expected with no perceptible lag. I played Darius Gaiden (SAT), Zero 5 (JAG) and b*nQ (7800). For $100, you couldn't ask for more. I'll do some kinda write-up on a dedicated thread when I really have time to dig in. The pic is from the ridiculous lionhead knocker on the door of my unit. I'm growing to like it.
  23. atarilbc

    Ch...ch...ch...changes

    I appreciate all of the support. I know things could be a lot worse and there are a lot of positives. I'm just throwing myself into my work, getting back in shape (20 down, 15 lbs to goal!), playing guitar and reconnecting with friends. Oddly, my twenty year-old daughter and I haven't been this close since she was a pre-teen. It's been cool to spend time together. I went back to my hometown of Columbus, OH over the holidays and it was just the recharge that I needed. It can only get better from here. A quick retro gaming story from my trip. My buddy of 28 years took me to a barcade in north Columbus for some pinball and games. We went to a Ms. Pac-man and about 8 minutes in to my play, he was like "I mean, I know you are into this stuff but I didn't know you were this good. Do you think that you'd die before I can grab us another round?" LOL! Even with the blue "Tron" concoctions I was drinking I left with the high score. It wasn't terribly high; I think they must turn off the machines. I'll take it anyway. 😂 @RickR has it right; its sunrise in Long Beach, CA. Also known as "The LBC." As in, "atariLBC." I moved here in my early twenties and it's truly home now. Again, thanks everyone and I hope each of you had a merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
  24. I did not have a 7800, 5200 or O2 growing up. Although I played all three BITD, I didn't personally own them until I got into classic gaming. Technically speaking, I had a Gemini when I was a kid so I guess you can add the 2600 to that list too... I got my first 7800 at a thrift store in the late 90s. It was mainly to play my old 2600 games. I really got into it about 7 years ago. The homebrews and arcade ports are just great. I picked up a 5200 just a few years ago. I had an XEGS as a kid and I never really saw much of a difference. Plus, the XEGS is fully compatible with almost all A8 games and accessories and has a working controller. I picked the 5200 up after deciding to complete my Atari console collection. I got a great deal on an O2 a few years back. My late cousin had one when we were kids so I got I couldn't pass it up. All of the other retro consoles that I own are ones I had when they were being supported.
  25. Nice, BTB! I really like the live play! A llittle harsh on HV:UL. I'm curious, did you turn off the hovercraft settings? I always thought the game played better with slightly less bounce. HV:UL is an interesting addition to the Jaguar CD as it was essentially Leonard's attempt to show the world that the Jaguar could pull off a fully texture mapped game as well as the 3DO. In my view, it falls behind Battlemorph and I-War in the Jaguar's robust "tank game" category. Still, it's somewhat enjoyable and much better than the cart. Of course Skyhammer sets the bar for texture mapped Jaguar games. Looking forward to more live play videos in the future!
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