All work makes Jack (well StiGGy really), miss his retro gaming. A fix is needed.

Work still continues on the house and with a week off work this week I’ve been putting in some serious hours to try and get this latest bit done – or at least the messy/heavy/laborious stuff done first. Sadly, game time (and blog posts) have kinda nose dived these past few weeks and I was even painting on my birthday (going for the sympathy vote here :-))

…but it’s all been fun stuff despite the mess and upheaval and bit by bit it’s all starting to take shape. On the plus side, all this DIY-ing has been a great excuse to wheedle some funds out of ‘the treasurer’ and some new and exciting power tools (also good for building custom arcade cabinets…ssh, mums the word!) My latest acquisition will have your arm off if you blink too long and is equipped with powerful lasers to blind you if don’t. It’s also got the word ‘Fury’ written on the box and I’m guessing the instructions might have mentioned Dolby 7.1, USB and a Flux Capacitor if I’d bothered to read them instead of chucking them in the bin along with the safety guards – only kidding!

No I’m not flippin you the bird, just waving hello with the only finger I’ve still got attached ūüôā

Testing it this afternoon springs to mind the continue screen from Ninja Gaiden/Shadow Warriors.

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I’ve decided that I’m definitely in need of a retro game fix (whilst I’ve still got thumbs eh?), and thanks once again to ‘The Treasurer’ for filling my pocket with a stash of 10 pence pieces, I’ve been enjoying some early classics on my MAME arcade machine.

As well as a hefty amount of Bomb Jack these past few evenings (so frustratingly good!), it’s Midway’s Rally X that I’ve been returning to time and time again in the hope of grabbing that ever elusive flag to beat my top score.

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Moving the directional restrictor plate on my joystick to limit controls from 8 to 4 way really made a difference with this game – highly recommended.

Speaking of Rally X, have you played the homebrew Atari 2600 port currently in development? I took it for a spin the other day and even though it’s still very much a work in progress, it’s looking verypromising. You can read all about it and pick up the current file for emulation/Harmony Cartridge here – http://atariage.com/forums/topic/218406-rally-wip/

Away from the arcade machine, I’ve also been messing around with the Nintendo Gameboy / Gameboy Advanced emulator for iOS that caused a lot of excitement when it was release being that you don’t have to iBrick your device to run it – Time travel helps though!

GBA4iOS http://gba4iosapp.com

The touch screen controls are o.k-ish I find, as long as things don’t get too intense onscreen but here’s hoping a future update will include iCade/8-bitty support.

One game in particular that’s got me hooked (and thankfully one that uses fewer buttons) is Pokemon Pinball. I’ve never played a Pokemon game in my life (they’re on my gaming to do list) so I have no idea what most of the games references are, but pinball is pinball and boy do I like my pinball….and Pokemon Pinball is most certainly a damn fine game…..of pinball.

Check out the faux GBA skin….probably the worst coloured model of them all but hey one does have the option to re-skin should one feel the need to crack open ones Photoshop.

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I’ve had so much much fun with this game I’ve actually purchased the original cartridge game via eBay which should be making its merry way to my GBA SP slot very soon.

Thanks to JT and his posts and photos regarding his new ultra cool Sharp X68000 computer I’ve been taking a little time out to explore this fascinating machine myself…emulated (win68k) at the moment but plans are afoot to woo The Treasurer into leaking more funds…..either that or I’ll she’ll dance with ‘fury’ ūüôā

I got my first hands on experience with a Sharp X68 last year at Play:Expo which had one parked next to a chic-let Commodore 116. I sat down to play Specticede on the 116 and I recall having a conversation with the chap next to me who was playing Slapfight on it to which we both agreed looked absolutely stunning considering it was running from just one floppy disk. Later on I had an amazing time thumbing through the disk box and picking out and playing even more perfect arcade ports. Take Final Fight for example, incredibly faithful to the original….and only on two floppy disks!

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It’s perfect timing as well, because the latest issue of Retro Gamer magazine features a look at some of the more obscure title on the X68000 and some would have been surely missed judging by their long Japanese names. Thumbs up RG!

So yeah, with that little fix, retro gamng zen is restored. If it drops out again, the first of this years Retro Computer Museum gaming weekend is just a month away!

Happy gaming.

A.I. program taught to play NES games.

Now this is impressive! This gentleman (Tom Murphy) has created a program that actually learns how to play classic Nintendo games.

The video itself is pretty amazing and well worth watching all the way through to get an understanding of how the program works. However, if you just want to jump right in to see the results, fast forward to around the 6:10 mark.

Are we seeing the beginning of Skynet? First it learns how to play Space Invaders and then think’s ‘woo, I wonder if I can get a higher score shooting humans?’……..and so it begins ūüėģ

My Gaming Week #8

Last weekend I was shifting, sorting and dusting down a few older computers, consoles and ¬†games and had started to amass a collection tapes, discs and cartridges on my ‘to play’ pile. Here’s a few that’s been fun to play this week.

First up, is a Megadrive conversion of an arcade game that was a sequel to a huge favourite of mine -phew!

Rolling Thunder 2 РSega Megadrive (1991).

RT2 Japanese cover as my European cover is just. quite frankly, awful!

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The first time I played ¬†Rolling Thunder 2 (and Rolling Thunder 3 on the MD) I thought, meh…it’s not a patch on the original and it wasn’t long before it was shelved. Playing it again this week and after a few sessions on the original¬†courtesy¬†of Mame and¬†am starting to warm to it a little more. It’s still an average run and gun type game, but it does look very nice and still contains elements of the original game mechanics like the make or break jump from lower to upper platform (or vice versa), the limited gun ammo, the high difficulty and those frantic moments were you just make it out alive.

The Megadrive version adds a few extra anime style cut scenes and a few extra levels compared to the arcade version. It certainly is a nicely polished game.

So, it appears that the Geldra organisation is up to no good again and decided to take out¬†earth’s¬†orbiting¬†satellites. As agent Albatross (or additional agent Liela is you wish) of Special Task Force – Rolling Thunder, it’s up to you to track him down and give him what for. To Miami Airport it is then!

The original Rolling Thunder arcade game was said to have been set around the 1960’s but it appears that the sequel is quite a few years into the future judging by some of the visuals.

Forget the mission, I want to drive this truck!

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I’ve been running, jumping and shooting my way through this game all week but I can still only reach ¬†level 3. Thankfully there’s a handy password system so at least ¬†I don’t have to restart from the¬†beginning¬†again, and with any luck will make it to the end of the game soon wipe the smile off his greenish himself.

Now for something less challenging!

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Contra (or Gryzor over here…or Probotector) – NES (1988)

Less challenging? Contra is certainly not.¬†¬† I’ve always wanted to ¬†get into ¬†Contra but could never really got very far past the first level. Being an essential NES game I was eager ¬†to seek out this for my ¬†collection many moons ago, but on playing it,it was quickly boxed and has rarely comes out these days.

However, this week I was feeling lucky…..how did it do? Well,¬†I’ve¬†seen this screen so many times and nothing much past it ūüė¶

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So, I was about to shelve it again when I thought….what the heck, lets cheat to buggery and you know what, with the Konami code¬†entered to give you a ¬†whopping 30 lives,¬†it really make gives you chance to try¬†different¬†things out and learn a few attack patterns, . It’s still hard as nails and even with this many lives you still have a hefty challenge on yout hands but one that is almost reachable….who am I kidding, I suck at Contra ūüôā

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Hunchback – Commodore 64 – (1983)

Hunchback, a real classic on any platform, be it the C64, BBC Micro, Amstrad, Speccy or even Oric-1, it’s a great game and thirty years on¬†I’m¬†still playing it.

Move over Pitfall Harry, it’s Quazzy’s turn. Run from left to right ¬†jumping ¬†and swinging your way to the bells and on to rescuing said damsel in distress (alleged). Don’t hang about for too long though as there’s a Knight on your tail who after the side order of hunch rump…..ew!

One of the fifteen odd screens you’ll encounter. This one is an easy one , jump over the guards at the right moment or ¬†feel the pointy end up your tights. Later on this level is repeated often but adds flaming cannon balls and arrows to the mix. ¬†

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Get your timing right and swing to the other side, get it wrong and it’s down to your doom. Top tip, I find that if you jump when the rope is around about the 7 0’clock position, you should make it o.k. ¬†If not, there’s always the Konami code ūüôā

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…and if you want something a little more modern, how about this remake? Are those guards from an Asterix game?

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This next one isn’t a game of sorts but bags of fun for Lego fans, old and new.

Lego Digital Designer –¬†http://ldd.lego.com/

Once you’ve downloaded and¬†installed¬†the software (Mac/Windows/PowerPC) you can then use the simple editor to build virtual Lego models just like you used to do as a kid. There’s 100’s of bricks to choose from ¬†in all manner of¬†o colours¬†and sizes ¬†including many from the classic ¬†Lego era.

But that’s not half the fun, having spent a few minutes browsing around the forums, it appears that there’s a whole community based around recreating many of the classic Lego models. I found many old¬†favourites¬†that you can import into the application or build using digital scans from the original model instructions.

 It was my birthday yesterday and quite fitting to find the model below, which was a birthday gift from a late aunt I received so many many years ago.

6681 – Police Van

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I remember this model being so cool for many reasons. Firstly, all Police sets were cool, secondly, it had many moving doors including a hinged¬†cockpit roof. Thirdly, this was one of the first models to have those uber-cool Police walkie talkies and finally, look at those large off road tyres…you can imaging how many other vehicles I created used these.

..and here’s the virtual model…just trying to figure out the correct tyres.

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You can also place a model in a 3D¬†environment allowing you to pan and zoom around at leisure. Here’s another of the vintage space sets that I had back in the day.

918 – Space Transport

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It’s missing a few details but oh does this bring back memories!¬†It’s not as impressive as it’s bigger brother with the opening cargo bay/lunar buggy but believe me, this Space Transport did some mileage. The hinge tool can be used to manipulate the two hinge bricks, so for example on this model, I can raise the cockpit roof..Good job, the pilot had his helmet on.

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What model I’d love to find (or digitally build myself) is the best Lego Space set I ever owned.

6970 – Beta 1 Command Base.

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Back to gaming and this weeks lunch time gaming has been an online version of a classic…with an unexpected twist.

Final Fight – Web/Flash –¬†http://toork.com/classicgames/final-fight/play2

You only get to play as Guy, but who cares, it’s Final Fight and you get to smack Mad Gear and his gang around online.

Right here we g….wait a minute, you lot aren’t familiar, are you new¬†recruits?

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I was expecting the odd metal pipe or sword to use as a weapon but look what I found!…this is¬†embarrassing,¬†I’m¬†a hardened Street Fighter!

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Aha, the golden doors, time to fight Thrasher…..wait one gawdamn minute, what’s going on here? What are you doing here Ken…oh you do do you, well bring it on then.

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Hmm, this is not a part of Metro City that I know…someone forgot to mow everything? Eek, mini raptor and¬†I’m¬†pretty sure that not Roxy or Two-P that’s sneaking up on me.

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Driving around in a¬†Cadillac¬†is so much better than the dingy tube. ¬†Woo, what’s the gun for?’

Eek!

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It’s a strange game¬†all right, cool, but bizarre. They should call it Final Street Fight Cadillacs and Dungeons.

Happy Gaming….and and btw, Albatross is one cool name.