My gaming Week #5

Another retro gaming week flies by. Here’s what I’ve been up to.

Gyruss – Atari 2600 (1980)

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Usually, my go to system for a spot of Gyruss (other than the original/Mame version) is the conversion written for the Commodore C64, but this week, thanks to a bundle of eBay VCS carts (The Harmony cartridge is great, but I do love my retro box art!) , I’ve be enjoying the simple delights of the Parker Brothers Atari 2600 release. Basic it might look, but for a 2600 game it’s surprisingly nippy and has one of the best musical scores I’ve ever heard on the VCS.

In Gryuss, you move your ship through 360 degrees around the perimeter of the screen and blast away at the enemy ships fanning out from either the centre of the screen or from the left or right – Think Galaxians wrapped around a tube.

I think that grey blob is me…honestly it looks better when it’s in motion 🙂

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Intense tube blasting calls for an intense soundtrack and compared to other conversions, Parker Brother have cranked up the tempo on the 2600 with Bach’s signature tune.

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I’ve also been checking out the Gyruss on another system too and it’s a version I’ve not actually played until this week.

Gryuss – Nintendo NES (1988)

Compared to the Atari 2600 this one certainly looks a stunner with its colourful and chunky Konami threads. The NES version also adds a few new elements not found in the arcade original including boss attack rounds, a new super weapon and a remix of the original soundtrack. It’s a cracking version of Gryuss all right, even if somewhat on the easy side. However, I’ve only scratched the first few planets so lets see if it has the same lasting appeal of the original.

 

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Another early game from Jeff Minters and one you’d usually see playing on my Vic-20 or C64 but this time around, I found the crisp visuals on the ZX Spectrum version simply too good to miss.

Voidrunner – ZX Spectrum (1987)

I found this version of Voidrunner purely by accident really as I was messing around with iXpectrum, the ZX Spectrum emulator on my iPad and needing an example game to play around. Because I’d been dipping in and out of Jeff Minters Llamasoft website recently (I’m keeping an eye out for more news on the soon to be released follow up to Goat Up) I found myself at the software library area where Jeff has many of his early games available as free downloads.

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Voidrunner is a arcade shooter that shares similarities with Gridrunner and Matrix (which itself take influence from the the arcade game Centipede). The game contains a centipede like trail that makes its way down from the top of the screen towards you at the bottom. As you fire on it, the centipede breaksinto smaller pieces which travel in different direction making the whole task of destroying it ever more difficult. To make life even more difficult, there’s a horizontal laser beam that cuts down from the top of the screen to destroys you if your ship happens to cross it’s path.

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It’s been fun to play on my iPad but I’ll be digging out one of my Speccys soon as this one deserves a proper joystick.

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Lunch break gaming this week has been so absorbing at times with this next game that I’ve actually forgot to stop and eat my lunch.

Zombotron – PC/web

http://armorgames.com/play/12000/zombotron

Guns, Zombies, Robots, ragdoll physics and unscripted moments of sheer awesomeness, you can’t help but have fun with this one.

‘Welcome to the planet «Zombotron», inhabited by human-mutants or just stupid zombies. Nobody knows where they come from and what they eat. But we know one thing – they are ready to destroy everything that moves.’

You control our hero via W,A,S,D with mouse for aim and mouse button for shooting, plus the E key for inventory. I’m still a Q,A,O,P type of chap but as I play more and more of these web games I’m getting kinda used to them bit by bit…I just wished more web games would have redefinable keys!

 

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The aim of the game is simple to survive the ten levels and get from the start to the finish. Along the way you’ll need to solve a handful of puzzles as well as take out a fair share of squishy zombies and not so squishy robotic defense systems. Kills and opening treasure chests will reward with gold coins which can be used to purchase weapons, ammo, medkits and armour.

You start off with a puny pistol, but it’s not long before your packing shotgun, assault rifle, grenade launcher and rail gun. Ammo might seem a bit stingy at first but once you reach some of the later levels ammo conservation doesn’t become such a problem. Besides, although it’s fun to simply blast everything in sight, each level is littered with items that you can use (or not) as make shift weapon or trap. For example, push a crate from above on to the heads of an unsuspecting zombie, roll an explosive filled barrel down a slope mowing everything down in its path or shoot it in mid path at the right moment to cause maximum, and gory, damage. Alternatively sit back and watch zombie vs robot duke it leaving you to pick off any survivors.

There are also bonus missions to complete too – although not necessary to complete a level, including collecting certain things or doing certain actions. For example complete a level using minimal gun ammo.

I’ve had (and still am) having so much fun with Zombotron and now that i’ve completed it i’m hungry for more….woo, sequels!

Here’s the trailer.

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I round this week up with a pocket collection of classic Atari arcade games that have been given a new paint job.

Atari Classic Collection – Nintendo DS

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This DS cart comprises of some pretty accurate arcade ports –

Centipede

Lunar Lander

Gravitar

Pong

Breakout

Missile Command

Warlords

Asteroids

Dragster

Tempest

Each game has also been made to take advantage of the DS touchscreen and stylus control which apart from Missile Command/Breakout pretty much sucks – Tempest with a stylus is just plain awful! However, you an still use the D-Pad and physical buttons which work perfectly (apart from Missile Command) and having a pocket version of Gravitar, Lunar Lander and Asteroids is why I brought the cart and much better than say Mame on my iPhone.

But thats not all. The thing I like most about this collection compared to other Atari compilations is the remixed graphic mode for each game.

Asteroids

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Gravitar

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Breakout…oh wait, that looks the same.

Happy gaming!

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My Gaming Week #2

Heavy Snow has been causing so much chaos on the road this week especially during the commute to and from work – nearly two and a hours stuck on the M1 one day 😩 So with free time a little on the short side, so has my game time for week #2.

One game that I have started to re-re-re-re-visit (yup, everyone has played this one) is Super Mario World on the SNES.

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SMW is pure fun whether you’ve got five hours or just five minutes to kill and has been the perfect game companion this week. I was spurred on to take another look at this beginning of the week  after finding a free web based SNES emulator on the Google Chrome Web Store – thinking it would save me time getting my Snes out of storage and setting it up. Hmm, I can’t seem to locate the URL any more so i guessing Nintendo’s lawyers had a word? Any-ho, there was a whole collection of Mario based games but to be quite honest the emulator sucked and ran so slowly that SMW was practically unplayable.

So, my SNES came out after all  and I’ve been dipping in and out of it all week.

I was doing great and racking up quite a collection of lives on the the early stages. but things have started to heat up in the Vanilla Dome. Dome 3 and 4 has really took some beating and am currently fighting with my controller on Lemmy’s castle.

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No doubt SMW will see we well into next week and beyond. I’ve only ever completed it once and compared to say SMB3 it’s not as tough…..still, I must be rusty as it’s certainly giving we a whippin this time around.

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Lunch break gaming has been well catered for this week with this a rather simple yet most excellent Flash based, dual stick shooter – Retro Assault – http://www.kongregate.com/games/Zyzic/retro-assault

Controls – check, know thy enemy – check, got my ‘bits’ wallet ready – check. Lets begin.

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It all starts off reasonably slow until Wave four when those pesky blue arrow shaped thingiess hone in on your position. Run, shoot and survive until the orange timer bar at the bottom of the screen is depleted.

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Level over, time to spend those ‘bits’ on upgrade’s you’ll need em!

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During the week, my mate Max released a beta demo of Cosmic Ark for the Commodore 64. It’s a conversation of the Atari 2600 game by Imagic and is coming along quite nicely and is just as addictive as the original.

There’s still a few bugs to be ironed out but if you fancy a go, you can download the release at CSDB.

http://csdb.dk/release/?id=114953

 

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Pilot your drone ship and rescue the inhabitants with your tractor beam. Don’t stray into the path of the defence towers on the left and right as your mission will be very short lived.

 

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Return to the mothership and repel those planet destroying asteroids.

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Cosmic Ark, might look a little basic, but at it core is damn fine arcade game. Being a  friend of the author makes it that little bit more special and I’m sure that high score competitions will be played out at many RCM gaming days to come.

Just for fun I created a mock cartridge for Cosmic Ark for Max in Photoshop using a picture of my C64 Simons Basic cartridge and the box art from the Atari 2600 game. I’ve colour matched the box art to the cart , embossed the layer and merged using blur, clone, smudge tools. Pretty crap I know but was fun to do all the same.

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Hopefully, more game time next week!

RCM Members gaming weekend.

Just got back from another damn fine weekend of retro gaming goodness at the Retro Computer Museum.

Despite a nip in the air, +40 classic computers, consoles, one projector and a collection of eager gamers was all that was needed to raise the temps and to get everyone enjoying themselves. There was a couple of new faces this time around which is always nice to see as well as the ‘usual suspects’ for guaranteed laughs and fun.

I’ve not taken a great deal of photos this time around as I was rather enjoying quite a bit of gaming on the Saturday including copious amounts of Soul Caliber on the Dreamcast. Here’s a handful of the quick snaps I made in between bouts.

This weekend was a chance to take a good look at some of RCM’s new toys like this Memotech MTX 512 complete with Rememorizer addon board which provides additional VGA output, SD card storage and 512k of extra RAM. With this much tech, I’m pretty sure our MTX 512 can now recreate our own Kelly LeBrock 🙂

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The ZXpand on the ZX81 still continues to impress and at one point we had one of the old ’81’s running at 20mhz! The game ‘Mayhem’ still continues to be an event favourite and high score sessions to beat Stu’s 72 points where attempted. I think Soph came closest with 60 odd points.

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JT was happy to test fit one of his SwinSID C64 SID chip replacements into one of RCM’s breadbins and take it for a test drive. Big thanks for letting me have one of these puppies myself. It’s currently sat in my C64 next to me playing a bumper crop of High Score Ballads from CSDB . More on the SwinSID later on.

I also managed to pick up another homemade SD2IEC for my Commodores as my own has developed a bit of a fault. Hopefully the chip will be of use to you JT?

Mike brought along his Android based MK808 mini computer which is so small it makes the Raspberry Pi look huge…and to think, something that small can run pretty much all console emulators (even PSX) full screen in hi def! XBMC runs beutifully on it as well as PC games like GTA3. Add to that all those lovely Google apps and for around ÂŁ45, i’m highly tempted to get one of these myself. I’ll be researching a bit more on the Mk808 these coming days as its a real tinker’ers tech toy!

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What was also impressive was Sophie’s new Atari Mega STE. Some of the demo’s running on this boxy monster were veeeery impressive. This was the first time I’ve seen a Mega STE before and despite it looking a bit ugly, was quite an impressive piece of kit it was. Soph was telling me it’s one of those rare items that pop up from time to time and she’d managed to locate this faulty unit on eBay in Germany which was being sold for next to nothing as it was faulty. Having won the item, said fault turned out to be very was minor and is all in working condition again. Top marks Soph!

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Sunday was all about relaxed, chillin and having a natter and I spent a while trying out a someones Android tablet – one of those very impressive – now it’s a netbook, now it’s a tablet Asus Transformers thingymebobs. We wanted to see if we could get Mame and other emulators working with my iCade. After detecting via Bluetooth and pairing successfully we tried a few emulators but couldn’t get it to work . Even mame4droid, with native icade support wouldn’t work. In the end, we downloaded a simple joystick app, mapped the controls of the iCade as keyboard inputs and used this configuration to set the control type for each emulator. This time it worked, and really well too. In fact, just as well as on the iPad with no lag or connection issues after that initial hiccup. With Christmas coming, and if you’re an Android owning retro gamer. Maybe think about adding one to your list to Santa?

Messing around with the iCade, messing around with the MSX.

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Amongst the games played this weekend, there was a couple that seemed to stand out for me so i’ve added them to my list further exploration.

More digital pinball courtesy of ‘Ruiner’ on the Atari Jag. I’m still tempted to get a Jag now, even if it’s just for this one game.

Moon Cresta on the Dragon 64 (via multicart). Suprisingly a very faithful port of the arcade original…on a Dragon!

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Strider II – Sega Master – I’ve not played this one before and was instantly hooked. Will be tracking down my own copy of this fun little run and gun sequel.

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Soviet Strike – Playstation. I haven’t really played any of the ‘Strike’ games since Desert Strike on the Sega Megadrive but this 3d-ish incarnation on the Playstation was actually rather fun.

More Soul Caliber but not before resting ones aching wrists. Thanks to Levs for bringing the arcade sticks in, much better than standard controllers. Am now on a mission to find myself one!

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Even better connected to the projector and the lights off.

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All in all a rather splendid weekend of gaming with friends new and old. That pretty much wraps it up for gaming events this year and it was nice to have the last of 2012 finished off at home at the retro computer museum.

Here’s to more next year.

Rise of the Robot, a hidden gem?

Surely not? Rise of the Robots on any platform was a monumental of bag of rusty scanners and if you parted cash for it back in the day, then like myself, its probably something you’d like to keep quiet about…and certainly not to admit it to the intern….dammit!

Today, the only thing that Rise of the Robots is any use for is as a booby prize for game competition s (still enjoying your copy Mike?) and it’s still interesting to look back at the classic gaming magazines of the day and reread some of the hyperbole that seemed to go on for ages and ages until the darn thing was finally released.

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C&VG online periodically look back at classic issues of their own printed C&VG magazine and it was their latest article that prompted further investigation as it seems that the Nintendo SNES version of ‘Super Rusty Spanners’ received a whopping 91% when reviewed.

Hidden gaming gem or bribe?

You can find the article here

Incidentally, this issue also has a feature about the proposed 32X-like addon for the SNES, which of course never materialised,and a look at some of the games released around this time. Check out some of the prices for early SNES/Megadrive cartridges…where did we ever find the money!

Back to Rise of the Robots, I’m curious about this SNES version and as i’ve never played it before thought i’d at least check it out (with one hand on the power switch as we don’t want to go through all of that trauma again).

Yep, it’s bad…very bad…in fact, I don’t want to talk about it 🙂