Space Rawks on my Arcade machine.

Ever since I first watching my old brother play Asteroids in a cafe near to our school , I’ve always been drawn (in a straight line ūüôā ) to vector based arcade games such as Omega Race, Lunar Lander, Battlezone and Star Wars of course…it’s just something about those intense glowing lines moving incredibly smoothly against a darkened backdrop. To a much younger me, vector graphics were a symbol of the future. Today, they symbolise retro and boy do I love my retro.

As such, I’m a Vectrex player and alongside emulation with Mame/AAE I’m always seeking out all forms of vector styled games be it new concepts or remakes of original arcade classics. One developer that’s been releasing some truly outstanding games over the past few years is Sokurah of Tardis Remakes.

Available predominately for Windows PC (although there are quite a few for OSX now) his current roster of Vector styled games are –

Omega Race (2006 and 2009 edition) – Brilliant rendition of Midways classic.

Rip Off – Sadly, I never came across Rip-Off in the arcades as it’s one of my favourites on my Vectrex. Sokurah’s release is such a joy to play and looks amazing with those digital backdrops.

Star Castle – Another arcade/Vectrex classic. Check out the Atari 2600 port if you haven’t already.

Black Widow – A brilliant remake of Atari’s dual stick shooter (even more so than the original I think) and plays incredibly well when setup with a PC dual stick controller.

Zektor – It’s like Omega Race, Rip-off, Star Castle and Asteroids all in one game! Again, another machine that I didn’t come across in the arcades although I fear my pocket money would not have lasted very long if I had.

Space Fury – Intense Schmup action which gets even better (see below)

Arcadia – A vector styled re ‘imagine’-ation (sorry!) of an early 8-bit hit. I spent many happy hours playing this way back then on my humble Vic-20 , and this new version is just as fun and looks amazing with all that neon glow.

….and finally, his latest game, Space Rawks which is based around Asteroids Deluxe but with a shed load more rocks, plenty of power ups and frequent visits from those pesky saucers.

Just look at those gridlines…heaven ūüôā

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As with previous games, you’ll find plenty of useful options including redefinable controls and the ability to jack up (or down) the amount of vector glow.

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‘Sir, the possibilities of successfully navigating an asteroid field are 3,720 to 1’. I’d say, twice that judging by my score!

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I didn’t think that playing these game could get any better but man, how wrong was I after transferred them over to my arcade machine.

Classic controls and extra bass from the wooden cabinet.

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Space Fury – Of all the games I’m tried, this one plays so well on an upright cab and feels just like a genuine coin-op arcade game from the 80’s.

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Eek!

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I do hope that Sokurah continues to make these games so spread the word and show your support by visiting –

http://tardis.dk/wordpress/

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¬†clich√©¬†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 ūüôā

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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 Р2 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