Retro Joystick USB adaptor #2

Earlier on in the year I ordered a MayFlash USB joystick adaptor  to connect older Atari style 9-pin  joysticks (including Megadrive pads), Nintendo NES and Nintendo SNES pads to my PC via USB. It looked great but in the end it failed to live up to it’s promise and despite the SNES bit working just fine, it was the dp9 part that I was hoping to use with my PC and Raspberry Pi.  You can read all about it here –  – https://stiggyblog.wordpress.com/2014/02/19/mayflash-retro-gamepad-joystick-to-usb-adaptor/

Well, I thought I’d try again with another adaptor and  one that has received some excellent reviews and a  popular choice with my fellow retro gamers.

USB Joystick Adaptor by Retronic Design – http://www.retronicdesign.com/en/

I ordered via eBay, and three days later it arrived. Considering it was coming over from Canada, damn that was quick! On one end its the mighty USB (which may require flipping three times) , on the other there’s nine pins of retro gaming awesome-ness and somewhere in the middle there’s some sort of electronic fusion glue from Canada.

IMG_4758

Stella awaits!

IMG_4762

Out of the box, well little bag,  it supports a whole range of 9-pin joysticks with up to three buttons.  I’ve tried a handful of sticks from Cheetahs and Quickshots to Speedkings and Comp Pro’s to Zipsticks and Tac2 sticks – All work perfectly.  There’s also support for Sega Megadrive (3/6 buttoned) Amiga Mice,Atari 2600 paddles and many more after a quick firmware upgrade using the tools available on the owners website.

Retro Joystick detected as a standard gamepad in Windows or can be configured as a keyboard/cursor joystick with Joy2Key etc.

retro adapter

Although not listed on the website, I thought I’d try is with my Panasonic 3DO pad (it didn’t work) and just for laughs (and fingers crossed that it actually might work) my Vectrex Pad….which it didn’t – well, the joystick was non responsive but the four buttons respond as directional control.

All in all, a great product and a great way to get more out of your emulation fun.

 

 

 

Retro Gaming – Sea Chase

Every time I go to a retro gaming event there’s always one video game (or pinball table) which I like to call ‘the show game’. It’s that one game that becomes synonymous with an event due to the amount of times it’ll keep going back to it throughout the day (‘damn game won’t beat me’ will  usually being muttered along the way 🙂 ) Said game will probably be an oldie I’ve not actually sat down to play before or sometimes it’s a title from my own gaming past that I’m rediscover all over again. Played solo or shared with friends, it’s that one fun game that becomes simply becomes – the show game.

Anyone else have these?

Last months Retro Revival 2014 was no different and my show game for the event was a title I found at random whilst browsing for something else to play on an Atari XEGS after a button bashing warm up session on Satan’s Hollow. Which so happened to be my ‘show game’ from Retro Derby that was held back in July.

Retro Derby, the second  meetup organised by Chris Snowdon (the first can be found here – https://stiggyblog.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/retro-gaming-weekend-at-derby-saturday/ and https://stiggyblog.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/retro-gaming-weekend-at-derby-sunday/ )and despite the sweltering heat on one of the hottest days of the year, was bags of fun and my first introduction to the Atari XEGS and the Atari 8-bit version of Satan’s Hollow – which grew on me very quickly and to be honest, I think I  prefer playing this version instead of the arcade original.

IMG_4887

 

Oh and that mini arcade cabinet on the left, yup so cool isn’t it. http://www.turnarcades.com/ did a great job on this.

IMG_4886

Any-ho, so back to Retro Revival and Keiren had brought along his XEGS setup again and I was casually looking through this games list on his Atari Max flash cart. I played a few well known games, like Donkey Kong and Beam Rider but when I found and started playing Sea Chase, I was instantly hooked…heck, it’s got a submarine in it….subs are cool!

Sea Chase by Eric Fries  – later I’m informed of his association with Microsoft, Xbox, Ouya  and author of Halo 2600. Talented guy!

First highscore.

303

 

At first I wasn’t sure exactly what to do, but as a seasoned pixel submariner, I hazarded  a guess that the depth charges released from the ship above and the floating mines might not be very good for my periscope. In addition, something ought to be done about that slowly depleting fuel supply.

As you navigate around the deadly obstacles whilst fighting inertia,  treasure items will appear for collecting. After you’ve bagged ten items a torpedo will appears somewhere on screen. Once you’ve collected it, line up for a shot, flood tubes one and….well just one really and light up that pesky ship above. You’ll get one shot only so  if you miss you’ll have to redo the level again.

Scoring is achieved by shooting the depth charges before they explode (avoid the brief shrapnel cloud), blowing away the  fast moving enemy subs and finally torpedoing the  ship. There’s also a time bonus for skilled drivers that can complete the level before the timer runs out.

Sea Chase might look a little basic and if like myself you’ve not played it before, it’s well worth checking out. A  fun little twitch shooter I’m sure you’ll return to again just to top that previous score.

MayFlash Retro Gamepad / Joystick to USB Adaptor.

When it comes to retro gaming you can’t beat playing on the original  system and I’d favor it over emulation any day.That’s not to say I’m not an emulation fan of course, quite the contrary I use them a lot and relish the advantages that emulation brings….like turbo loading for instance!

But the thing about emulation is, although it can look and sound, in some circumstances, pretty much indistinguishable from the original system, I often find something is missed from the experience by not using the original games controller. Stella is awesome Atari 2600 emulator but playing Berzerk on a PC keyboard instead of a classic Atari joystick doesn’t feel quite right.  Mario Kart via ZSnes using a PS2 styled PC controller is o.k but give me a proper SNES pad and I’m a happy chap. Then of course, there are the oddballs controllers like the  analogue Vectrex pad, Atari paddles and the N64 joystick/gamepad ‘thing’ which might be a little tricky to replace with modern pads and sticks.

Adapters, that’s what we need and there are many of them out there allowing one to attach a classic controller to a PC or modern games console.

I came across this particular adaptor on eBay the other day. It’s very cheap, small and promised support for Sega Megadrive/Genesis controllers (and thus hopefully other standard DB9 based sticks and pads), Nintendo NES and SNES controllers in one tidy package. Buy buy buy says I.

….a few days later.

May Flash USB gamepad conveto

The little adapter box has two input ports, the first is a 9-pin DB9 type connector and the other is a 7-pin SNES connector. Also included  was a DB9 to 7-pin converter cable for connecting NES/FC pads.

No drivers are required according to the instructions and it states it’s compatible with Win XP thru to Win 8 including both 32 and 64 bit flavors.

Sure enough, after plugging it into my Win 7 netbook, the device was detected and appeared as a standard HID game controller.

I’ve dug out a selection of classic controllers to test.

Classic gamepads and sticks

It started off well –  the SNES pad worked flawlessly with no lag or any issues detected when multiple buttons were pressed simultaneously and after a round or two with Street Fighter 2Turbo and Super R-Type (where the adapters programmable turbo button came in handy) I moved on…..and well, it’s all went a bit downhill from there.

I couldn’t get it to work with my Megadrive mk2 pad,  third party or original mk1  pad.  No go either with the classic Atari stick, Commodore Vic-20 stick, Commodore CD32 pad or Sega Master System pad. I haven’t tested it with my NES pad though as they’re still packed away. No keystrokes detected with MS notepad open therefore  Joy2Key is out too.

I’ve tested the device on another Win 7 PC (SP1), a Win XP PC and my Raspberry Pi. Each time, nothing worked apart from the SNES pad (I had to fiddle around to get it working on my Raspberry Pi).

I’ve removed the adaptors case screws to have a looksee inside and as far as I can tell everything looks o.k. When I get time I’ll have a probe around with the multimeter.

Although it’s a cheap adaptor, for sole use as a SNES adaptor  it’s still  more expensive than getting a dedicated SNES ‘styled’ USB gamepad (although I guess that defeats the object of using an original controller) and probably more expensive than getting the pats to USB mod a pad yourself. In the end I decided to contact the seller and ask if I could return it for a refund.  As it happens, the seller had tested a few adapters himself and found that he was having the same issues too. As a result he kindly gave me a full refund and told me to keep the adaptor anyway. A win in the end then!

 

Atari 2600 homebrew – DK Arcade 2600 and Space Rocks.

Have you played Atari today? – nope, in fact I haven’t fired up the woody since playing Star Castle (see previous blog post – https://stiggyblog.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/star-castle-released-on-the-atari-2600/) and with my gear stashed away whilst we redecorate, it might be some time before its on the geek bench again. But…no matter, Stella is such an awesome emulator that’s been ported to so many platforms, I’m bound to have a few bits of kit lying around here that haven’t been packed away.

Have you played Atari today? – Yep indeedy-doo – thanks to Stella running on my Raspberry Pi via the Chameleon PI distro and  my keyrah attached so I can use my old Atari sticks. Phew – In fact, with the heap of spaghetti wires and bits all over the desk  it might have been easier just to unbox my 2600 after all 🙂 Nevermind, as long as you can game right?

There’s two Atari 2600 homebrew games I’ve been itching to try out since looking at some of the early release info last year. As you can probably guess from this posts title, the games are DK Arcade 2600 and Space Rocks.

I’ve always loved the original Donkey Kong game on the Atari despite Mr K looking more like a giant gingerbread man, putting up with some rather iffy collision detection and Mario’s comical shuffle across the screen (you wait until you see him climb up a ladder!) but it’s all about gameplay and as a kid I lapped this one up.

I could go for some coffee dunking gingerbread right about now!

Atari 2600_DK

There’s already an absolutely brilliant conversion of Donkey Kong in the making for the Atari 2600 in the form of Donkey Kong VS and if you haven’t tried it yet, head on over here to give it whirl – http://atariage.com/forums/topic/206497-dk-vcs/

This afternoon though, I wanted to check out the latest development of DK Arcade 2600 by AtariAge member iesposta – http://atariage.com/forums/topic/216037-dk-arcade-2600-progress-files-source-code-help-appreciated/

It’s certainly looking and sounding impressive so far and even includes the short intro from the arcade original – how high can you try? Despite a little flicker on Kong, the barrels and Pauline (who I can’t seem to capture on the screenshot from Stella) everything moves really smoothly and the collision detection is a massive improvement on the original.

DK21y140119f.bas_2

I must be loosing my touch though becaause I’m finding the first level to be incredibly difficult to play. Those barrels come at you at a fair old pace and in some instances, three in a row and no space in between. I’ll keep at it but for the time being a screenshot from level one is about all I can provide. Probably best if you check it out yourself whilst I hang my head in shame 😉

Asteroids, everyone can play this – even if you suck at Donkey Kong and Space Rocks improves massively on Atari’s original VCS game.   – http://atariage.com/forums/topic/197315-space-rocks-2600/page-13#entry2648510

But before we get into the game, pause for a moment and check out the absolutely stunning box art created for Space Rocks – created by label competition winner Dave Dries.

SpaceRocks

 

Space Rocks mixes elements of classic Asteroids and Asteroids Deluxe and provides the gamer with a nice selection of options to suit visual graphics styles and gameplay. Check out some of the options available for you to mess around with.

 

spacerocks20121129_PAL

 

Going for the Vectrex Minestorm look here, I’ve chosen blue neon for my colour scheme.

spacerocks20121129_PAL_3

 

Space Rocks is one damn fine game of Asteroids all right. Just a few seconds in and I’m grinning as I hear that iconic laser FX and the meaty explosions that follow as you reduce rocks to dust. You get the plod, plod ‘sound track’ that gets progressively faster as the clear the screen which urges you and piles on the pressure just as the original did. You get really smooth animation here, little jitter and just superb gameplay. So much so, i’m seriously toying with the idea of placing an order for this cart.

Ganging up on me already! – one Saucership and remnants of a broken Magna-mine…and don’t think I can’t see you attempting a flanking position!

spacerocks20121129_PAL_4

 

 

2 player co-op and ‘fight mode’ should be a laugh too – In fact, at the next gaming meetup, I’d like to take along my Harmony cartridge and maybe we’ll have us a bit of a mini competition?

spacerocks20121129_PAL_5

 

So yeah, despite not having my Atari 2600 to hand, I’ve still had a  fun few hours with these two homebrew title and If you haven’t played Atari today, then maybe you’d like to check these out yourself?

 

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 🙂 ) 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 🙂

sr2

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.

sr1

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

sr3

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.

IMG_4376 (Custom)

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.

IMG_4380 (Custom)

Eek!

IMG_4379 (Custom)

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

http://tardis.dk/wordpress/