Even more Flashback.

So, it’s looking like its turning out to be an all Flashback weekender! This time around, I’ve got it running on the Dreamcast of all systems!

Sadly, there wasn’t an official port of Flashback released on the almighty Dreamcast, but some clever boffin has produced one based on the REminiscence Project – http://cyxdown.free.fr/reminiscence/

REminiscence is a rewrite of the engine used in the game Flashback from Delphine Software. This program is designed as a cross-platform replacement for the original executable and uses the SDL library’

 

Playing Flashback on the DC is also a  great way to test  out a piece of  kit I’ve had in my drawer for ages now and have not really had much use for it until now.

This is my Dreamcast SD adaptor, a cool little addon that came out a few years ago that allows you to run Dreamcast software directly from an SD card. No more loud CD noise!

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I brought mine quite cheaply off eBay and they’re easily available if you fancy giving one a go yourself. I’ve heard of a few problems with the Dreamcast reading certain brands of SD cards and I’ve only every used Sandisk cards myself and these seem to work out o.k. The SD card needs to be formatted as Fat32.

You will need two bits of software to get this running (plus any homebrew apps/games you wish to run). The software is called Dreamshell and you can pick it up at most DC sites. Here’s where I got mine from –

http://theisozone.com/downloads/dreamcast/homebrew-apps/dreamshell-400-rc-1-by-swat/

Once you’ve unpacked the archive, copy the entire DS folder to the root of your SD card and then burn the .cdi image to a blank CD. I’ve  used ImgBurn @ x4 speed for mine.

Insert the SD card into the adaptor and place the adaptor into the Dreamcast’s serial port at the back. – It’ll only fit one way but be careful when inserting the adaptor, mine was a bit flimsy!

I’m not going to fit much on a 2Gb but it’ll do for  the odd bit of hombrew BOR.

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Insert the Dreamshell boot CD and switch on the Dreamcast.

After a a while you’ll have an O/S type interface on screen with various tools for doing all manner of funky stuff. There’s plenty of documentation about  Dreamshell on the web but for me, I’m just interested in going to the File Manager, browse the contents of my SD card and launching the Flashback image. Navigating around the O/S is a bit of pain with the joypad and would be better if used with the DC keyboard etc (which i don’t have at the moment) The analogue stick doing a pretty good job as an emulated mouse pointer and after a bit of practise it doesn’t take to long to get used too.

Flashback on the Dreamcast!

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It plays just like any other version of Flashback I’ve played before except one thing…the Dreamcast joypad isn’t exactly the most ergonomic of pads especially after coming directly from using the 3DO pad. However, it’s Flashback….on the Dreamcast….Hell yeah!

Retro Gaming: Silpheed – Sega Mega-CD

Whilst taking a breather from the arcade machines at last weekends Retro Revival event and sitting down to for a natter around the RCM area, I started looking through the selection of Sega Mega CD  boxes and stopped at this one purely based on it’s box art and the screenshots on the back.

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It looks like fun I thought, so I fired it up on my mate Jim’s Sega Megadrive/32X/Mega CD stack.

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Now, I’m not overly familiar with the majority of Sega Mega CD games, apart from some of the early PC CD-rom titles that were ported over and I’d always assumed that the rest were just cheesy FMV style games. It certainly bears more investigation on my part as man was I in for a treat with this game.
The in game visuals on the Mega CD versions are beyond anything I thought possible on the Megadrive and include silky smooth polygon ships, pre-rendered backdrops, plenty of cinematic speech and a cracking audio track . Playing this reminds me a little of Namco’s Starblade. although this is a full on vertical shmup as opposed to an on the rails shooter.

Part of the impressive intro animation. Static screenies are o.k but when this thing is animated it looks fantastic

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I do recall playing something similar on PC once, albeit much basic in looks.  I’ve done a bit of research since playing this at the weekend and it appears that it may have been the 1988 conversion by Sierra Online based on the the NEC PC 8801 original. However, how this Mega-CD version slipped past my radar though I have no idea. Maybe it’s because at the time of it’s release, I was all immersed in a similar game at the time – Star Fox/Wing on the SNES.

Seconds ago a huge laser ripped through one of the large ships. Poor boggers!

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The game itself is a bog standard shooter and includes the usual smatter of power ups and boss rushes. That’s not to say it’s a poor game of course, its actually one damn fine blaster and with the addition of those amazing prerendered backdrops, it really add to the drama going on around your ship.

 

The second level see you battle the enemy ships from deep within an asteroid belt. It looks superb in motion as they spin towards you or smash into one  another creating even more rocks to weave around.  You have limited shields which, when being depleted either by enemy fire or collision,  your firepower effectiveness is reduced too.

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Like the opening scene from Revenge of the Sith….sorta.

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Lock S-Foils into attack posi…..oh wait, I don’t have any of those.

 

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After each stage, you can take a breather and decide which weapon upgrades you want fitting.  I’m sure there’s a right combination for each stage…just need to figure out which one!

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and here’s a look at the intro and the first few levels.

Sturmwind – Sega Dreamcast.

Sturmwind for the Sega Dreamcast has finally been release and so with any luck my order should be making it’s merry way to me soon.

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What is Sturmwind? Well, it’s an independant, classic arcade shooter written by Duranik for the Dreamcast catering for the league of fans still devoted to Sega’s last console.

Check out the features list –

16 Levels
3 selectable difficulty levels
configurable controls
adjustable screen position
different weapons selectable
more than 20 large bossenemies
hundreds of different enemies
FMV intro sequence
hybrid 2d/3d game engine
resolution 640×480
PAL50, PAL60, NTSC and VGA (with Adapter) compatible
region free
works with any MIL-CD compatible Dreamcast
CDDA Sound
supports: Joypad, Arcade Stick (Analog/Digital), VMU, Rumble Pack (configurable)
internet WEBcode Hiscore Tables
award Trophy System with unlockable content
SD card support

It’s been a very bumpy ride for Sturmwind, and amongst the frequent setbacks and release dates, I was beginning to think we’d never see it…and what a shame it would have been too because just look at it!

Not bad for a (nearly) 15 year old games console!

So until the postie arrives with package of awesome-ness, this weekend the Dreamcast hits the geek desk because a) its been a while since I’ve used it and it needs a good test – I’d been gutted if Sturmwind arrives only to find my DC has croaked, b) Retro Revival is next month and I’m sure that if myself and fellow RCM chums happen to come across a Dreamcast, then they’ll be plenty of Soul Calibre shenanigans and I could do with a spot of practise (shh, tell no one) and finally c) I’ve had a new bit of Dreamcast kit in my desk drawer for the past six months and haven’t actually tried it out yet!

For more info on Sturmwind checkout the dev site – http://duranik.com/

and to place your order at – http://redspotgames.com/shop/?act=viewProd&productId=19

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 – Sega 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 😦

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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 🙂

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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 🙂

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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.

My Gaming Week #7

I’m having an impromptu afternoon off working this afternoon – yesterday, our central heating boiler decided not to central heat anymore and wasn’t expecting a to be able to find an available heating engineer  so soon considering last weekends rapid drop in  temperatures and the huge dumping of snow we’ve had these past few days. Any-ho, he’s on his way so whilst I wait for him I  thought I’d catch up with my blog posts as free time has been a bit elusive these past few weeks.

Here’s a selection of games that’s been keeping me entertained this week (and the last week too as I didn’t get chance to post then either).

It’s no secret, I do love a good dose of Pinball, be it on a real table or in digital format and there are many digital tables out there which, unbound from any restrictions of a physical table often contain many weird and wonderful designs and features.

One such digital pinball game, really takes this to the max.

Devil Crash (Devil Crush) Sega Megadrive (1990).

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Devils crash expands the pinball experience by presenting the main game table in multiple parts. The initial table is split into three sections, each with their own set of goals, bonuses and objectives to shoot for and expands on these by adding even more sub tables, again with there own set of goals. I haven’t managed to visit them all yet, but at the last count, playing Devils Crash is like playing on a pinball table which spans over eight tables.

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I’ve only ever seen the PC Engine version running but never played it myself so was hoping that the Megadrive port going to be as good.

Visual, it certainly looks fantastic and although I’m not a horror fan, am loving the Gothic/Splatterhouse/Doom-esq/Gieger/Demonic <insert red stuff> look to the entire table. The sound effects perfectly match the table too with plenty of cliché ghoulish laughing, screams and howls – The background music I find, can be a bit repetitive so i’d decided that anything by Metallica was perfectly suited.

Here’s the bottom of the table, lose the ball here and it’s game over my friend.  Aim for the centre castle to help you seal up the gap between your flippers and/or plant the ball into ‘boney’ mouth on the right.

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One of the amazing looking sub-tables.

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Am also loving the centre section, which kinda reminds me of Bride of Pinbot where the ladies face changes after hitting certain targets. This time around though, instead of robot to girl, we get girl to vamp to aged vamp and on to demonic snake thing….eek!… I’m sure she’s a lovely person though..just misunderstood 🙂

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But all that goodness would be wasted if the ball physics and framerate turned out to be a bit iffy and thankfully, Devils Crash on the Megadrive doesn’t suffer with any of this. A great pinball game well worth checking out you ever get the chance.

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Buggy Boy – Commodore 64 (1987)

The first time I played Buggy Boy in the arcades was at Smiths arcade on the East coast. They had the huge  triple screen monster of a cabinet version (although not the largest according to KLOV) and I remember  it had red rope netting added to the rear window and sides to enhance that offroad buggy experience.  I’m not sure if this was added by the arcade operator themselves as I can’t find any reference to it being on as standard but it’s something that has always stuck in my mind. Funny how all the little obscure little details often do.

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The port to the C64 by Elite surely ranks up as one of the best arcade racing games on Commie and a sure inclusion to pretty much everyones top lists of C64 games?  Like most, I’ve played this over and over again, but it wasn’t until I  was reminded of the fact that I’ve not actually loaded this in ages after seeing it included in NikNice’s ipad C64 games collection (see previous post – https://stiggyblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/niknices-collection-of-c64-games-for-ipad-and-iphone/

You all know the game so I won’t go into it, but if like myself and its been a while, I hope these will also serve as a reminder to do so again soon.

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It might not have the large vehicle graphics of the arcade original but of all the home ports, surely the C64 conversion has got to be one of the best Buggy Boy experiences – especially the speed when comparing it to other home ports.

I’ve always like the look of the the ZX spectrum version too, especially the visuals which despite the lack of colour are pretty darn close to the arcade original. However, it runs incredibly slow and the camera angle is way to low, your Buggy blocks you view. It’s a shame as this could really have been something special. I occasionally play the Amiga version and a friend of mine recommended the Atari ST version so that’s added to the play list for another day.

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I had no idea this game existed until receiving a response  Youtube video featuring an  arcade gaming convention  From the 3 or 4 seconds of game footage  I  thought, woo that looks cool, in a  sorta Salamander-organic way. Little did I know that it was  actual a sequel.

Salamander 2 – Arcade/Mame (1992)

I’ve not really got far into the game yet but so far am looking the levels and bosses.  Sure, apart from a huge graphical update there’s that much extra going on here but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, just more of that Salamander/Gradius goodness.

One ugly mother.

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I’ve also been playing a handful of classic vector based arcade games using an emulator that’s designed to accurately reproduce a little bit better than say with MAME. Games like Asteroids, Rip off, Tempest, Gravitar and Lunar Lander.

The emulator is called Another Arcade Emulator (AAE)  – http://www.zophar.net/marcade/aae.html

Play Asteroids in Mame and then on AAE and you’ll instantly notice the difference.

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You need a fairly beefy PC to run some of the games though and some seem to run better than others despite having less objects on screen. Initially I tried tried to run Omega Race on my Netbook and it just groaned and stuttered at 1 – 2 fps but on my main desktop things ran much better and am now toying with the idea of adding this emulator to my own arcade/Mame cabinet (yes I will finish it one day!).

AAE adds lots of new graphics options to closely present what the original arcade machines/monitors produced so for example, you can set screen burn, vector  phosphor glow levels, motion blur and light trail length as well as all manner of tweakable controls to suit your preferences.

Arcade  bezel and overlay art is supported in AAE too and worth tracking down to complete the illusion. You’ll also need to hunt down the rom images as these are not included in the download.

A note on Rom files  –
Out of the box I couldn’t get AAE to work correctly with my Mame set and on closer  inspection of the error/log file that’s produced after running a game, it appears that my roms are named incorrectly – or that they are correct but the AAE uses a different naming convention?

– for example, AAE might call for a rom image called 30210.01 but my image was called 30210-01.fr. Concidering that each game might contain a collection of anything between 6 – 40 rom images, that’s alot of file renaming you might need to do – not including the additional game revisions and prototypes.  It’s a bit of a chore but , the emulator is so good I think the reward is so worth the input.

AAE was last updated in 2008 with little advancements  after that, but there still appears to be a thriving forum community that should be able to answer any questions you might have.

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Lunch time web/flash gaming has mainly collection classics like Frogger and Space Invaders and one i’ve been playing quite a bit of is yet again, another Depth Charge port.

Depth Charge: First Attack – http://potentialtargetproductions.com/flash.html

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The same classic mechanics of the arcade original are here – bomb the subs within a set time and avoid the torpedoes. However, this flash version differs somewhat by adding the ability to set the depth of you charge. So not only have you got to get the timing right, you also need to figure out the correct depth too…and don’t think those sub driver will stay at the same depth too…the dirty little rotters!

This version has upgrades too allowing you to outfit your warship with faster engines, increased reloading times and armour plating.

Able Seaman Stiggy at your service Cappy…..is it lunchtime yet?

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My top tip, try to upgrade your ships speed first as without that you won’t be able to react quick enough to sink the subs or avoid incoming fire.

Happy gaming

StiGGy