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Sabertooth

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  1. Like
    Sabertooth reacted to Atari Creep for a blog entry, Friday the 13th safety mask cover   
    So it sucks having to put a mask on every time we go out. Sucks but important. There is no reason however we can't make it a little fun.
     
    STRONG LANGUAGE
     
  2. Thanks
    Sabertooth got a reaction from MalakZero 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! 
    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:  
     

  3. Like
    Sabertooth got a reaction from Video 61 for a blog entry, Annex 001 - Robotron 2084 Controller for Atari 7800   
    Welcome to the first "annex" entry into the Game Cave.  I'll post reviews of homebrews, community projects, and other goodies here. First up, my review of the Robotron 2084 controller for the Atari 7800 by Mike @RetroGameBoyz   I ordered my controller last week after reading about it on the forums and received it on Friday.  It was shipped in a plastic mailer with plenty of bubble-wrap for protection.    
    As many of you know, the Atari 7800 version of Robotron can be played with either one or two controllers.  With one controller, you can only shoot in the direction in which you are moving.  Using a two controller configuration, the first controls the direction of movement and the second controls the direction of fire.  Honestly, this is the best way to play Robotron 2084 and closely mirrors the experience of the arcade version.  That said, as you can imagine, without a coupler, using two unsecured joysticks or gamepads can be difficult. This is where Mike's gamepad comes in.     Using a 3D printed gamepad, modern style pad holder, dual d-pads and two 9-pin cables, the RetroGameBoyz Robotron 2084 controller allows you to play the game in the way that it's meant to be played.  

    First impressions:

    The game pad itself is just about the size of an NES pad.  In the optional holder, it's just a little larger than a Dual Shock 4 and is pretty comfortable.  At first, I was worried that the square-ish shape of the holder would feel clunky.  I'm happy to report that it actually feels quite nice and I don't anticipate taking the pad out of the holder.  

    The parts have that "ridged" look that is typical of things made with a 3D printer. However, this isn't to say that it doesn't feel substantial.  The build quality is legit and the controller responds nicely in all directions.  I really like the custom sticker; it's a nice finishing touch.     The two 9-pin cables are extra long, measuring 9 feet!  No extension cables needed! 

    Let's see how it plays: 

    I really love the 7800 version of Robotron 2084, although I'm not that great at it.  On the default "intermediate" setting, I can generally get up to wave 8 before giving up the ghost.  Playing with one controller requires you to play in a defensive way.  With the dual pad, I was able to get to wave 12 and score over 170,000 points.  Being able to have independent directional control over both movement and fire allows you to play much more aggressively.  Simply put, it's an entirely different - and better - game.     The controller also includes independent fire buttons for use in other 7800 games.  Its important to note, this works with the left pad only; the right pad isn't used outside of Robotron.  I played Xevious, Choplifter, Centipede, Ms. PacMan and Food Fight to put the controller though its paces. I found it to be light, comfortable and responsive. The buttons seem to work correctly.  The d-pads hit all of the directions accurately.  After a solid two hours of gameplay, I didn't feel the least bit of fatigue in my hands.  Compared to the Atari 7800 europad, this controller was at least as good if not better in most every respect.     Final thoughts:   The dual-pad Robotron 2084 controller for the Atari 7800 is a winner.  It looks cool, plays great, can be used for more than just Robotron and - for $49 - is just about the best damn controller you can get for the 7800.  I really like it and can see this becoming my goto for the 7800, 2600 and A8 although Mike has a single pad variant on offer via eBay.    If you want more information on this controller, check out the original thread or visit Mike's eBay link: https://www.ebay.com/sch/retrogameboyz/m.html         




  4. Thanks
    Sabertooth got a reaction from Justin 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! 
    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
    Sabertooth got a reaction from RickR 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! 
    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:  
     

  6. Like
    Sabertooth got a reaction from Atari Creep for a blog entry, Annex 001 - Robotron 2084 Controller for Atari 7800   
    Welcome to the first "annex" entry into the Game Cave.  I'll post reviews of homebrews, community projects, and other goodies here. First up, my review of the Robotron 2084 controller for the Atari 7800 by Mike @RetroGameBoyz   I ordered my controller last week after reading about it on the forums and received it on Friday.  It was shipped in a plastic mailer with plenty of bubble-wrap for protection.    
    As many of you know, the Atari 7800 version of Robotron can be played with either one or two controllers.  With one controller, you can only shoot in the direction in which you are moving.  Using a two controller configuration, the first controls the direction of movement and the second controls the direction of fire.  Honestly, this is the best way to play Robotron 2084 and closely mirrors the experience of the arcade version.  That said, as you can imagine, without a coupler, using two unsecured joysticks or gamepads can be difficult. This is where Mike's gamepad comes in.     Using a 3D printed gamepad, modern style pad holder, dual d-pads and two 9-pin cables, the RetroGameBoyz Robotron 2084 controller allows you to play the game in the way that it's meant to be played.  

    First impressions:

    The game pad itself is just about the size of an NES pad.  In the optional holder, it's just a little larger than a Dual Shock 4 and is pretty comfortable.  At first, I was worried that the square-ish shape of the holder would feel clunky.  I'm happy to report that it actually feels quite nice and I don't anticipate taking the pad out of the holder.  

    The parts have that "ridged" look that is typical of things made with a 3D printer. However, this isn't to say that it doesn't feel substantial.  The build quality is legit and the controller responds nicely in all directions.  I really like the custom sticker; it's a nice finishing touch.     The two 9-pin cables are extra long, measuring 9 feet!  No extension cables needed! 

    Let's see how it plays: 

    I really love the 7800 version of Robotron 2084, although I'm not that great at it.  On the default "intermediate" setting, I can generally get up to wave 8 before giving up the ghost.  Playing with one controller requires you to play in a defensive way.  With the dual pad, I was able to get to wave 12 and score over 170,000 points.  Being able to have independent directional control over both movement and fire allows you to play much more aggressively.  Simply put, it's an entirely different - and better - game.     The controller also includes independent fire buttons for use in other 7800 games.  Its important to note, this works with the left pad only; the right pad isn't used outside of Robotron.  I played Xevious, Choplifter, Centipede, Ms. PacMan and Food Fight to put the controller though its paces. I found it to be light, comfortable and responsive. The buttons seem to work correctly.  The d-pads hit all of the directions accurately.  After a solid two hours of gameplay, I didn't feel the least bit of fatigue in my hands.  Compared to the Atari 7800 europad, this controller was at least as good if not better in most every respect.     Final thoughts:   The dual-pad Robotron 2084 controller for the Atari 7800 is a winner.  It looks cool, plays great, can be used for more than just Robotron and - for $49 - is just about the best damn controller you can get for the 7800.  I really like it and can see this becoming my goto for the 7800, 2600 and A8 although Mike has a single pad variant on offer via eBay.    If you want more information on this controller, check out the original thread or visit Mike's eBay link: https://www.ebay.com/sch/retrogameboyz/m.html         




  7. Like
    Sabertooth got a reaction from RickR for a blog entry, Annex 001 - Robotron 2084 Controller for Atari 7800   
    Welcome to the first "annex" entry into the Game Cave.  I'll post reviews of homebrews, community projects, and other goodies here. First up, my review of the Robotron 2084 controller for the Atari 7800 by Mike @RetroGameBoyz   I ordered my controller last week after reading about it on the forums and received it on Friday.  It was shipped in a plastic mailer with plenty of bubble-wrap for protection.    
    As many of you know, the Atari 7800 version of Robotron can be played with either one or two controllers.  With one controller, you can only shoot in the direction in which you are moving.  Using a two controller configuration, the first controls the direction of movement and the second controls the direction of fire.  Honestly, this is the best way to play Robotron 2084 and closely mirrors the experience of the arcade version.  That said, as you can imagine, without a coupler, using two unsecured joysticks or gamepads can be difficult. This is where Mike's gamepad comes in.     Using a 3D printed gamepad, modern style pad holder, dual d-pads and two 9-pin cables, the RetroGameBoyz Robotron 2084 controller allows you to play the game in the way that it's meant to be played.  

    First impressions:

    The game pad itself is just about the size of an NES pad.  In the optional holder, it's just a little larger than a Dual Shock 4 and is pretty comfortable.  At first, I was worried that the square-ish shape of the holder would feel clunky.  I'm happy to report that it actually feels quite nice and I don't anticipate taking the pad out of the holder.  

    The parts have that "ridged" look that is typical of things made with a 3D printer. However, this isn't to say that it doesn't feel substantial.  The build quality is legit and the controller responds nicely in all directions.  I really like the custom sticker; it's a nice finishing touch.     The two 9-pin cables are extra long, measuring 9 feet!  No extension cables needed! 

    Let's see how it plays: 

    I really love the 7800 version of Robotron 2084, although I'm not that great at it.  On the default "intermediate" setting, I can generally get up to wave 8 before giving up the ghost.  Playing with one controller requires you to play in a defensive way.  With the dual pad, I was able to get to wave 12 and score over 170,000 points.  Being able to have independent directional control over both movement and fire allows you to play much more aggressively.  Simply put, it's an entirely different - and better - game.     The controller also includes independent fire buttons for use in other 7800 games.  Its important to note, this works with the left pad only; the right pad isn't used outside of Robotron.  I played Xevious, Choplifter, Centipede, Ms. PacMan and Food Fight to put the controller though its paces. I found it to be light, comfortable and responsive. The buttons seem to work correctly.  The d-pads hit all of the directions accurately.  After a solid two hours of gameplay, I didn't feel the least bit of fatigue in my hands.  Compared to the Atari 7800 europad, this controller was at least as good if not better in most every respect.     Final thoughts:   The dual-pad Robotron 2084 controller for the Atari 7800 is a winner.  It looks cool, plays great, can be used for more than just Robotron and - for $49 - is just about the best damn controller you can get for the 7800.  I really like it and can see this becoming my goto for the 7800, 2600 and A8 although Mike has a single pad variant on offer via eBay.    If you want more information on this controller, check out the original thread or visit Mike's eBay link: https://www.ebay.com/sch/retrogameboyz/m.html         




  8. Like
    Sabertooth 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.
     











  9. Like
    Sabertooth got a reaction from Justin 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!
     
  10. Like
    Sabertooth got a reaction from Justin 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!
  11. Like
    Sabertooth got a reaction from RickR 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!
  12. Like
    Sabertooth reacted to dgrubb for a blog entry, Project: Jaguar USB Tap   
    Justification
     
    In recent years the retro-gaming community has taken a revisionist view of the Atari Jaguar. What was once a console marred by failure is now more regularly being perceived as a missed opportunity. Rather than maintaining a reputation as a broken console the Jaguar is becoming more highly regarded as a technical innovator failed by a lack of capital and business acumen of the company who developed and marketed it. Consequently, demand for Jaguar consoles and peripherals has increased enormously with prices for used equipment rising accordingly. Emulation provides an easy way for newcomers to enter the scene without having to pay a heavy upfront cost for access.
     
    Since the Jaguar's era the video gaming market has changed considerably with controller designs becoming more or less standardised around a layout favoured by the two current dominant platforms, Microsoft's XBox and Sony's PlayStation: two analog sticks, a D-pad, four action buttons and a pair of shoulder triggers and buttons. Vendors of PC compatible gamepads have aped this layout in turn but, unfortunately, the Jaguar controller doesn't easily map to this format due to the inclusion of a twelve-key numeric pad embedded into the controller front face. This makes emulating Jaguar games with off-the-shelf PC gamepads somewhat dissatisfying, forcing the player to make use of a keyboard in addition to gamepad, or forgo a controller altogether.
     
    Even though a complete Jaguar console may be prohibitively expensive, a Jaguar controller can be purchased for ~$20. Combined with emulation a genuine controller can allow an affordable path to enjoy the Jaguar's eclectic library of games with the input device they were designed for, if the controller can be made to work with the standard inputs of a modern PC. Hence I intend to design and build a cheap converter device: the Jaguar USB Tap.
     
    Design Philosophy
     
    I am greatly influenced by the goals of the free software movement initiated by Richard Stallman. I also want the community surrounding Atari and the Jaguar to be healthy and robust. Making this project as open as I can possibly make it is a natural consequence of these two impetuses. Therefore, there are several requirements I must adhere to:
    All source code must be published with a Free/Libre license and made available through a convenient and readable mechanism (e.g., plain source hosted on a service such as GitHub). All hardware design files - such as schematics, PCB layouts and Gerber files - must be published in the same manner. Hardware design files must be available in formats which are standard and trivially readable. For example, if the schematics were published freely but couldn’t be opened without an expensive proprietary tool then they wouldn’t be open in any reasonable sense. When selecting components consideration must be given to how easily another person can reproduce the design. For instance, parts which require special soldering equipment or advanced techniques, such as quad-flat pack ICs with no pins (QFN), are undesirable.

    Fulfillment of these requirements shall influence technical and non-technical decisions alike. For example, an FPGA would be a good technical solution but a poor choice for the goals of this project as they require expensive proprietary software and programming devices.
     

    Component selections
     
    Even though I shall be using entirely surface-mount (SMD) components, with the exception of connectors, I will be selecting components with relatively large footprints such as 1812 for non-polarised capacitors. Larger components will result in a board being much bigger than it needs to be, but I feel this to be an acceptable trade-off to ensure that the design is accessible as they require less skill to solder but can also be identified and handled more easily by those with poorer eyesight.
     


     
    At the heart of the board shall be an STM32F070 microcontroller (uC) (http://www.st.com/en/microcontrollers/stm32f070cb.html). This part contains an ARM processor core, a USB peripheral and a small handful of GPIO pins making it highly suited as an embedded processor in USB human-interface devices (HID). While the part is a good technical fit for the project there are also accessibility reasons for using an STM32 uC. Chiefly, firmware can be developed using entirely open-source tools, such as gcc, on the user’s platform of choice (Linux, Mac OS or, I suppose, even Windows).
     
    A programmer device is required to upload firmware to the uC but this is another area where ST have done extremely well in providing an accessible solution. Every STM-Nucleo development board (~$10) contains an ST-Link programmer device which be used for programming external uCs in addition to that built into the board: http://www.st.com/content/ccc/resource/technical/document/technical_note/group0/30/c8/1d/0f/15/62/46/ef/DM00290229/files/DM00290229.pdf/jcr:content/translations/en.DM00290229.pdf
     
    Jaguar controller interface
     
    The hardware interface of the Jaguar controller is extremely simple. Button presses cause particular pins on the DB15 connector to be set high in contrast to some later systems, such as the Nintendo64, which serialise controller state data and maintain active two-way communication between controller and console. All that’s really needed is for the STM uC to detect rising-edge voltages on GPIO pins connected to a DB15 socket and send a USB HID message to the host PC.
     
    The controller has twenty-one buttons (n.b., even though the Pro controller has more buttons they’re mapped to buttons which exist on the original controller so no additional interpretation is required) and the DB15 connector provides fifteen pins. Button states are encoded with two bits worth of information: a column (or address) pin, and a data pin. This mapping is:
     


    Column 1 address (option, 3, 6, 9, #) Column 2 address (C, 2, 5, 8, 0) Column 3 address (B, 1, 4, 7, *) Column 4 address (Pause, A, N, S, E, W) - Row 1 data (pause) +5VDC Source - GND Row 2 data (A, B, C, Option) Row 3 data (E, 1, 2, 3) Row 4 data (W, 4, 5, 6) Row 5 data (S, 7, 8, 9) Row 6 data (N, *, 0, #) -

    For example, when the player presses the A button pin 4 and pin 10 are set high. Source: http://arcarc.xmission.com/Web%20Archives/Deathskull%20%28May-2006%29/games/tech/jagcont.html
     

    Result
     
    A high logic level for the controller is 5v but the STM32F070 runs at 3.3v (only two pins are 5v tolerant: D+ and D- USB data connections) so an interface chip is required to translate the two voltage levels. I’ve selected the TX01060 which provides an enable signal line allowing the uC to programmatically disable the connection to the controller if required. This is a useful point for attaching an LED for visual indication that the device is running as expected and for basic debugging. A regulator is also required to the convert the 5v power provided from the upstream USB connection to a level safe for the uC.
     


     


     
    Resources
     
    All design files, documentation and source code is available through my GitHub account and shall be updated as the project progresses: https://github.com/dgrubb/Jaguar-USB-tap
  13. Like
    Sabertooth got a reaction from dgrubb 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!
     

  14. Like
    Sabertooth got a reaction from Justin 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!
     

  15. Like
    Sabertooth got a reaction from The Professor 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
     

  16. Like
    Sabertooth got a reaction from The Professor for a blog entry, Reader's Choice - You Name The Game   
    Those who have been following this blog might know that I use Excel to randomly select which Jaguar game that I'll review next. This approach basically forces me to reconnect with games that I may not otherwise choose to play. Overall, it's been a fun experiment and one that I intend to continue as I wind my way through my Jaguar collection.
     
    That said, I'm just about finished with my Syndicate review (009) and I thought that I'd open up post number 010 to my fellow forum members. If there are any Jaguar games that you'd like to learn/read more about, let me know in the comments. I'll take the titles suggested and use Excel to randomly select one for post 010.
     
    Please limit your suggestions to two titles. If you happen to suggest a game that I don't have, I'll let you know. I'll keep this open until next Friday and announce the selection in the post for Syndicate.
  17. Like
    Sabertooth got a reaction from Justin 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
    Sabertooth got a reaction from RickR 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
     

  19. Like
    Sabertooth got a reaction from Justin 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
     

  20. Like
    Sabertooth got a reaction from Video 61 for a blog entry, 006 - White Men Can't Jump   
    White Men Can't Jump
    Published 1995 by Atari
    Developed by High Voltage Software
     
    White Men Can't Jump (WMCJ) is an Atari Jaguar exclusive developed by High Voltage Software and published by Atari in 1995. The game shipped with the Jaguar Team Tap peripheral for four player action. WMCJ is loosely based on the 1992 movie of the same name, which stars Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes as street basketball hustlers. As in the movie, players play pick-up basketball for cold hard cash on the mean streets of early-90s Los Angeles County. Otherwise, the license is wholly wasted as neither character is mentioned in the game. WMCJ is notorious as one of the worst games in the Jaguar library. For many Jaguar owners, it tops that list.
     
    So, does WMCJ deserve the hate? Or is it, as the manual claims, "the most hyped up, monster jammin', bruisin' elbows, rebound snatchin', rim stuffin', skying over suckers, down your throat, money making game of street ball you never thought possible?" Let's plug WMCJ into the big cat and see what it's all about!
     
    Gameplay: WMCJ is a two-on-two basketball game, in which players play half court ball in a semi-3D perspective. There are two game modes: Vs. mode and Tournament mode. In Vs. mode, up to four players can play using the Team Tap. In Tournament Mode, up to two players take on the best street ball duos in L.A. with the hope of making it to the Slam City Tournament at the Inglewood Forum. At the start of the game, you take out a loan from a couple of loan sharks for money to bet. You have to win enough to make the $5,000 entry fee and pay the sharks back - or else! Game progress is saved through the use of one of three save keys - represented by actual keys.
     

     
    Playing the game is fairly straightforward. You use the d-pad to move, and the Jaguar controller's three main action buttons to pass/punch, jump/shoot, or for speed boost. The action triggered depends on whether or not you have control of the ball. The buttons are customizable from the options menu. Wait a minute, back up. Did I just write "pass/punch"? I sure did. This is street ball, so punching is front and center. Want to steal a ball or block a dunk? Just punch your opponent. It's perfectly acceptable. In addition to the violence, each character also has a "super dunk", which can be pulled off with a combination of movements. I have to say, pulling off a super dunk is pretty magical.
     
    Action response seems a bit slow, with blocking jumps coming just after a shot, punches thrown late and shots taken a few steps after you intended. Also, the computer controlled characters pass like pros but - frustratingly - I could never quite get the hang of it. Additionally, due to the semi-3D perspective of the game, it can be hard to tell what's going on at times. All of this combines to make WMCJ less fluid and enjoyable than it could be.
     
    Graphics: WMCJ uses an interesting art style to say the least. The game employs 2D sprites in a semi-3D perspective. The game uses sprite scaling to provide a sense of depth on the court. A dynamic camera follows the action. The camera movement is fast and can confuse the onscreen action. Words and phrases like "Bangin", "Take it back", "Airball", "Money" and "You gets none" appear on the screen in rapid succession. These use colorful fonts in full 90s glory. This can be a bit jarring and distracts somewhat from the gameplay. Fortunately, this feature can be switched off.
     
    The player characters appear to be digitized from real photos like Kasumi Ninja, but unlike Kasumi, these digitizations are in fairly low resolution. It's an interesting look, if a bit muddy. The characters themselves are generic and their design doesn't show a lot of creativity. From a player's perspective, I really have no reason to pick the "Urban Angels" over the "Dunkin' Demons", or vice versa. They just aren't terribly memorable or distinctive. This may be unfair, as other games benefit from team/player licensing. That said, even if a lot of players feel the same, playing as your favorite NBA star does make you feel a bit more engaged.
     
    The game environments are darker than they could be. To my mind, all the match-ups seem to be held at dusk. In sunny Los Angeles County, would it have killed them to make a really bright level? It was the 90s, so maybe they were trying to evoke smog. Also, no LBC? WTF. Otherwise, I generally like the look and feel of the courts.
     
    Between the dynamic camera, digitized character models, sprite scaling, onscreen text and other effects, there is a lot going on here. Unfortunately, it's just a little too taxing and the framerate suffers for it. Action can seem stuttered and the animations are anything but fluid. This doesn't break WMCJ, it just makes it less fun than other two-on-two basketball titles.
     


     
    Sound/Music: Sound and music are a strong point of WMCJ. Unlike some Jaguar games, WMCJ features full audio, including in-game music, decent sound effects and heavy voice sampling. The in game music is well done but some of it seems a bit out of place for the game setting. One would expect more of a late-80s to early-90s hiphop sounds. Instead, we get some weird jazz music. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think the "Dis Masters" are playing jazz on their boom box while taking on the "3pt. Kings" in Compton. The voice over sampling is quality, if somewhat repetitive. I would like to hear a little more varied trash talk. The sound effects are what you'd expect from a basketball game, with swooshes that are sufficiently swooshy.
     
    Overall: WMCJ is a strange two-on-two basketball game. While its clear the developers were trying very hard, it is definitely a case of style over substance. I enjoyed some of the 90s quirkiness and it is truly unique. That said, there are better basketball games out there - even on the Jaguar. Sports games require a certain responsiveness and fluidity of action that WMCJ just doesn't have. This makes it a missed opportunity.
     
    Note: While this write-up has focused on the single player game, I want to add that this is tremendously fun with four players. People just really can't believe what they're seeing and it makes for a lot of laughs. A few years ago, I had a "Dads' Day of Atari" and someone picked this out. It was the loudest we laughed all afternoon. WMCJ itself isn't great, but it definitely has a so bad it's good quality that's best enjoyed with friends.
     
    Final Verdict: WMCJ is another odd edition to the Jaguar library. It is far from the worst game on the system but pales in comparison to the excellent Jaguar conversion of NBA Jam TE. If you find it cheap with the Team Tap, you might consider giving it a try. Four player Vs. mode is probably worth the price of admission. Besides, you can use the Team Tap on NBA Jam.
     
    Thanks for reading and please share your memories and thoughts on WMCJ in the comments below! Do you think it ranks as the worst game on the Jaguar? Or do you agree with me that it can be so bad that it's good?
     
    The next game is:Super Burnout

  21. Like
    Sabertooth got a reaction from RickR for a blog entry, 006 - White Men Can't Jump   
    White Men Can't Jump
    Published 1995 by Atari
    Developed by High Voltage Software
     
    White Men Can't Jump (WMCJ) is an Atari Jaguar exclusive developed by High Voltage Software and published by Atari in 1995. The game shipped with the Jaguar Team Tap peripheral for four player action. WMCJ is loosely based on the 1992 movie of the same name, which stars Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes as street basketball hustlers. As in the movie, players play pick-up basketball for cold hard cash on the mean streets of early-90s Los Angeles County. Otherwise, the license is wholly wasted as neither character is mentioned in the game. WMCJ is notorious as one of the worst games in the Jaguar library. For many Jaguar owners, it tops that list.
     
    So, does WMCJ deserve the hate? Or is it, as the manual claims, "the most hyped up, monster jammin', bruisin' elbows, rebound snatchin', rim stuffin', skying over suckers, down your throat, money making game of street ball you never thought possible?" Let's plug WMCJ into the big cat and see what it's all about!
     
    Gameplay: WMCJ is a two-on-two basketball game, in which players play half court ball in a semi-3D perspective. There are two game modes: Vs. mode and Tournament mode. In Vs. mode, up to four players can play using the Team Tap. In Tournament Mode, up to two players take on the best street ball duos in L.A. with the hope of making it to the Slam City Tournament at the Inglewood Forum. At the start of the game, you take out a loan from a couple of loan sharks for money to bet. You have to win enough to make the $5,000 entry fee and pay the sharks back - or else! Game progress is saved through the use of one of three save keys - represented by actual keys.
     

     
    Playing the game is fairly straightforward. You use the d-pad to move, and the Jaguar controller's three main action buttons to pass/punch, jump/shoot, or for speed boost. The action triggered depends on whether or not you have control of the ball. The buttons are customizable from the options menu. Wait a minute, back up. Did I just write "pass/punch"? I sure did. This is street ball, so punching is front and center. Want to steal a ball or block a dunk? Just punch your opponent. It's perfectly acceptable. In addition to the violence, each character also has a "super dunk", which can be pulled off with a combination of movements. I have to say, pulling off a super dunk is pretty magical.
     
    Action response seems a bit slow, with blocking jumps coming just after a shot, punches thrown late and shots taken a few steps after you intended. Also, the computer controlled characters pass like pros but - frustratingly - I could never quite get the hang of it. Additionally, due to the semi-3D perspective of the game, it can be hard to tell what's going on at times. All of this combines to make WMCJ less fluid and enjoyable than it could be.
     
    Graphics: WMCJ uses an interesting art style to say the least. The game employs 2D sprites in a semi-3D perspective. The game uses sprite scaling to provide a sense of depth on the court. A dynamic camera follows the action. The camera movement is fast and can confuse the onscreen action. Words and phrases like "Bangin", "Take it back", "Airball", "Money" and "You gets none" appear on the screen in rapid succession. These use colorful fonts in full 90s glory. This can be a bit jarring and distracts somewhat from the gameplay. Fortunately, this feature can be switched off.
     
    The player characters appear to be digitized from real photos like Kasumi Ninja, but unlike Kasumi, these digitizations are in fairly low resolution. It's an interesting look, if a bit muddy. The characters themselves are generic and their design doesn't show a lot of creativity. From a player's perspective, I really have no reason to pick the "Urban Angels" over the "Dunkin' Demons", or vice versa. They just aren't terribly memorable or distinctive. This may be unfair, as other games benefit from team/player licensing. That said, even if a lot of players feel the same, playing as your favorite NBA star does make you feel a bit more engaged.
     
    The game environments are darker than they could be. To my mind, all the match-ups seem to be held at dusk. In sunny Los Angeles County, would it have killed them to make a really bright level? It was the 90s, so maybe they were trying to evoke smog. Also, no LBC? WTF. Otherwise, I generally like the look and feel of the courts.
     
    Between the dynamic camera, digitized character models, sprite scaling, onscreen text and other effects, there is a lot going on here. Unfortunately, it's just a little too taxing and the framerate suffers for it. Action can seem stuttered and the animations are anything but fluid. This doesn't break WMCJ, it just makes it less fun than other two-on-two basketball titles.
     


     
    Sound/Music: Sound and music are a strong point of WMCJ. Unlike some Jaguar games, WMCJ features full audio, including in-game music, decent sound effects and heavy voice sampling. The in game music is well done but some of it seems a bit out of place for the game setting. One would expect more of a late-80s to early-90s hiphop sounds. Instead, we get some weird jazz music. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think the "Dis Masters" are playing jazz on their boom box while taking on the "3pt. Kings" in Compton. The voice over sampling is quality, if somewhat repetitive. I would like to hear a little more varied trash talk. The sound effects are what you'd expect from a basketball game, with swooshes that are sufficiently swooshy.
     
    Overall: WMCJ is a strange two-on-two basketball game. While its clear the developers were trying very hard, it is definitely a case of style over substance. I enjoyed some of the 90s quirkiness and it is truly unique. That said, there are better basketball games out there - even on the Jaguar. Sports games require a certain responsiveness and fluidity of action that WMCJ just doesn't have. This makes it a missed opportunity.
     
    Note: While this write-up has focused on the single player game, I want to add that this is tremendously fun with four players. People just really can't believe what they're seeing and it makes for a lot of laughs. A few years ago, I had a "Dads' Day of Atari" and someone picked this out. It was the loudest we laughed all afternoon. WMCJ itself isn't great, but it definitely has a so bad it's good quality that's best enjoyed with friends.
     
    Final Verdict: WMCJ is another odd edition to the Jaguar library. It is far from the worst game on the system but pales in comparison to the excellent Jaguar conversion of NBA Jam TE. If you find it cheap with the Team Tap, you might consider giving it a try. Four player Vs. mode is probably worth the price of admission. Besides, you can use the Team Tap on NBA Jam.
     
    Thanks for reading and please share your memories and thoughts on WMCJ in the comments below! Do you think it ranks as the worst game on the Jaguar? Or do you agree with me that it can be so bad that it's good?
     
    The next game is:Super Burnout

  22. Like
    Sabertooth got a reaction from btbfilms76 for a blog entry, 006 - White Men Can't Jump   
    White Men Can't Jump
    Published 1995 by Atari
    Developed by High Voltage Software
     
    White Men Can't Jump (WMCJ) is an Atari Jaguar exclusive developed by High Voltage Software and published by Atari in 1995. The game shipped with the Jaguar Team Tap peripheral for four player action. WMCJ is loosely based on the 1992 movie of the same name, which stars Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes as street basketball hustlers. As in the movie, players play pick-up basketball for cold hard cash on the mean streets of early-90s Los Angeles County. Otherwise, the license is wholly wasted as neither character is mentioned in the game. WMCJ is notorious as one of the worst games in the Jaguar library. For many Jaguar owners, it tops that list.
     
    So, does WMCJ deserve the hate? Or is it, as the manual claims, "the most hyped up, monster jammin', bruisin' elbows, rebound snatchin', rim stuffin', skying over suckers, down your throat, money making game of street ball you never thought possible?" Let's plug WMCJ into the big cat and see what it's all about!
     
    Gameplay: WMCJ is a two-on-two basketball game, in which players play half court ball in a semi-3D perspective. There are two game modes: Vs. mode and Tournament mode. In Vs. mode, up to four players can play using the Team Tap. In Tournament Mode, up to two players take on the best street ball duos in L.A. with the hope of making it to the Slam City Tournament at the Inglewood Forum. At the start of the game, you take out a loan from a couple of loan sharks for money to bet. You have to win enough to make the $5,000 entry fee and pay the sharks back - or else! Game progress is saved through the use of one of three save keys - represented by actual keys.
     

     
    Playing the game is fairly straightforward. You use the d-pad to move, and the Jaguar controller's three main action buttons to pass/punch, jump/shoot, or for speed boost. The action triggered depends on whether or not you have control of the ball. The buttons are customizable from the options menu. Wait a minute, back up. Did I just write "pass/punch"? I sure did. This is street ball, so punching is front and center. Want to steal a ball or block a dunk? Just punch your opponent. It's perfectly acceptable. In addition to the violence, each character also has a "super dunk", which can be pulled off with a combination of movements. I have to say, pulling off a super dunk is pretty magical.
     
    Action response seems a bit slow, with blocking jumps coming just after a shot, punches thrown late and shots taken a few steps after you intended. Also, the computer controlled characters pass like pros but - frustratingly - I could never quite get the hang of it. Additionally, due to the semi-3D perspective of the game, it can be hard to tell what's going on at times. All of this combines to make WMCJ less fluid and enjoyable than it could be.
     
    Graphics: WMCJ uses an interesting art style to say the least. The game employs 2D sprites in a semi-3D perspective. The game uses sprite scaling to provide a sense of depth on the court. A dynamic camera follows the action. The camera movement is fast and can confuse the onscreen action. Words and phrases like "Bangin", "Take it back", "Airball", "Money" and "You gets none" appear on the screen in rapid succession. These use colorful fonts in full 90s glory. This can be a bit jarring and distracts somewhat from the gameplay. Fortunately, this feature can be switched off.
     
    The player characters appear to be digitized from real photos like Kasumi Ninja, but unlike Kasumi, these digitizations are in fairly low resolution. It's an interesting look, if a bit muddy. The characters themselves are generic and their design doesn't show a lot of creativity. From a player's perspective, I really have no reason to pick the "Urban Angels" over the "Dunkin' Demons", or vice versa. They just aren't terribly memorable or distinctive. This may be unfair, as other games benefit from team/player licensing. That said, even if a lot of players feel the same, playing as your favorite NBA star does make you feel a bit more engaged.
     
    The game environments are darker than they could be. To my mind, all the match-ups seem to be held at dusk. In sunny Los Angeles County, would it have killed them to make a really bright level? It was the 90s, so maybe they were trying to evoke smog. Also, no LBC? WTF. Otherwise, I generally like the look and feel of the courts.
     
    Between the dynamic camera, digitized character models, sprite scaling, onscreen text and other effects, there is a lot going on here. Unfortunately, it's just a little too taxing and the framerate suffers for it. Action can seem stuttered and the animations are anything but fluid. This doesn't break WMCJ, it just makes it less fun than other two-on-two basketball titles.
     


     
    Sound/Music: Sound and music are a strong point of WMCJ. Unlike some Jaguar games, WMCJ features full audio, including in-game music, decent sound effects and heavy voice sampling. The in game music is well done but some of it seems a bit out of place for the game setting. One would expect more of a late-80s to early-90s hiphop sounds. Instead, we get some weird jazz music. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think the "Dis Masters" are playing jazz on their boom box while taking on the "3pt. Kings" in Compton. The voice over sampling is quality, if somewhat repetitive. I would like to hear a little more varied trash talk. The sound effects are what you'd expect from a basketball game, with swooshes that are sufficiently swooshy.
     
    Overall: WMCJ is a strange two-on-two basketball game. While its clear the developers were trying very hard, it is definitely a case of style over substance. I enjoyed some of the 90s quirkiness and it is truly unique. That said, there are better basketball games out there - even on the Jaguar. Sports games require a certain responsiveness and fluidity of action that WMCJ just doesn't have. This makes it a missed opportunity.
     
    Note: While this write-up has focused on the single player game, I want to add that this is tremendously fun with four players. People just really can't believe what they're seeing and it makes for a lot of laughs. A few years ago, I had a "Dads' Day of Atari" and someone picked this out. It was the loudest we laughed all afternoon. WMCJ itself isn't great, but it definitely has a so bad it's good quality that's best enjoyed with friends.
     
    Final Verdict: WMCJ is another odd edition to the Jaguar library. It is far from the worst game on the system but pales in comparison to the excellent Jaguar conversion of NBA Jam TE. If you find it cheap with the Team Tap, you might consider giving it a try. Four player Vs. mode is probably worth the price of admission. Besides, you can use the Team Tap on NBA Jam.
     
    Thanks for reading and please share your memories and thoughts on WMCJ in the comments below! Do you think it ranks as the worst game on the Jaguar? Or do you agree with me that it can be so bad that it's good?
     
    The next game is:Super Burnout

  23. Like
    Sabertooth got a reaction from Justin 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

  24. Like
    Sabertooth got a reaction from RickR 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

  25. Like
    Sabertooth got a reaction from Atari 5200 Guy 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

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