Astrocade gaming.

I mentioned in my previous post that I’ve been enjoying the ‘Living Room Console‘ at which is a collection of vintage games consoles and games which you can play directly from within a webrowser. If you haven’t tried it yet, head on over there right now for some great retro gaming fun –  I find running it with Firefox give you a massive speed boost compared to Internet Explorer and certainly a massive improvement than using Chrome (come on Google, you’re my web browsing weapon of choice!).

Of the emulated consoles available, the Bally Astrocade is  the only one that I’ve never had the pleasure of playing before (digital or physically) and I’m absolutely loving  what this little box of faux woodgrain and smoked plastic has to offer.

They’re not wrong, for late 70’s tech, the Astrocade sure is a ‘Professional Arcade’.



..but enough messing with the Calculator and Creative Crayon, here’s a look at some of my new favourites.

Galactic Invasion 2011

This is really nice Galaxians clone which is surprisingly very well animated considering it’s age and compared to the Atari 2600 version for example. Sadly, there’s no sound via this online emulator so you’ll have to make up your own. I recommend ‘pyu-pyu’ for your laser and a Duke Nukem ‘Hail to the king baby’ when you’ve completed a wave.


The Incredible Wizard.

This Wizards of Wor style game has been seriously eating into my free time this week, its one superb little arcade game. Basically, run around the dungeon trying not to get hit by any of the evil Wizards minions…well, they must be evil right? Anyone that looks at you in a funny way, give them a blast with your wizarding stick. Further into the game, you’ll come up against the big cheese who shall not be named . Smyte him with extreme prejudice and thy shall be rewarded.

That radar at the bottom of the screen will come in handy later on as it appears  that said evil minions have nicked Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility. Sneaky boggers!


Space Fortress

Reminiscent of an old VIC-20 game I used to play called Cyclon Zap, Space Fortress will test your reflexes as you defend your ship against enemy assault from all sides. Space Fortress is one of those accessible games which anyone can pick it up an instantly get playing yet still provides a  real challenge for veteran shooters.

Move your (yellow) cannon up, down, left or right and shoot anything that appears on screen. Everything starts off nice and slowly at first giving you plenty of reaction time to move and shoot. Gradually the game gets faster and faster and you’ll really need to be on your game to keep alive. If not, don’t worry, there’s actually a rather nice screen filling explosion effect to watch should your Space Fortress get hit.

Loving these Astrocade colourful pixels.

space fortress

Cosmic Raider

Looking and playing a little bit like Defender, this fun little schmup is great fun for a short time. What is impressive is how smoothly it runs and scrolls even when there’s plenty of activity on screen. I wonder if the game on the original hardware was this smooth?

Great games, and great box covers too.






Mission accomplished – thanks Gamebase20!

I hope all are well and enjoying the first few days of the new year.  I start mine on a bit of a high note regarding retro gaming because like an unknown song going round and round in your head, I’ve finally been able to put name to a game I’ve been trying to recollect  for nearly thirty years!

The game in question is for the Commodore Vic-20, a computer owned by my cousin at the time who I would often see at the weekends for gaming and generally hanging out with. He was a little older than myself and had all manner of cool stuff like handheld video game machines, a massive collection of rock/heavy metal LP’s and a medium sized snooker table that had been converted into a  war gaming board and could slide out  on wheels from under his bed.  In the days of Dungeons and Dragons , Fighting Fantasy and White Dwarf magazine, this was cool (geek) stuff indeed and many happy hours were spent on that snooker table without actually ever striking a cue ball 🙂

It was one of the first ‘proper’ computers I had regular access too and I even purchased a few games for it even though it wasn’t my machine.

My only recollection of what the game looked like was that contained some sort of mask/face you had to shoot at multiple times….and that’s about it.  He has a black and white TV at the time so I have no colour reference either.

I’ve been searching for years now and asking around various gaming forums but with so little clues as to what it might be, it’s a game title that’s always eluded me. My cousin has no recollection of the game either…did it even exist I started to wonder?

Burned in my brain are those masks though. They kinda remind of these  that you see depicting laughter and sadness. Especially the smiling one.


Some years ago I thought I was on the right track with a game called XOR. The masks looked familiar but on playing it (C64 version) I knew that these weren’t the droids I was  looking for (sorry…Christmas TV turned out to be a bit of a Star Wars fest). Beside, versions of XOR were available for many computer formats but not the VIC as far as I could see.



For those time when I’ve not got my Vic-20 setup on the geek desk, I’ll turn to emulation  and as an avid user of Gamebase64,  I thought it was high time I took a look at the Vic-20 version which has just recently received a large update.

I’m sure you all know about Gamebase20 but if not, in a nutshell it’s a nice graphical frontend for running Vic-20 games under VICE and has plenty of tools for searching  and the ability to create custom game lists as well as displaying screenshots, cover art and all manner of details about each game. It also configures games to run automatically with the correct RAM configuration settings within VICE…a very handy feature on a computer that has many types of specific RAM requirements.

Screenshot from my Gamebase20 – my word, that is one scary looking Puck-man cover!


Any-ho (yes, I’m getting there!) Gamebase20, contains a huge amount of VIC-20 games and so it’s also useful for discovering new(old) games to play. I was browsing around the games list the other day and stopped dead when I saw this particular screenshot.

Those faces!




I loaded the game and sure enough, this is the game I’ve been looking for. My mission is well and truly accomplished and I can finally put this puzzle to rest after all these years.

The game is called Phantom Attack, a budget released by (wallet friendly) Mastertronic and contained another of those great Sci-Fi  covers Mastertronics used to use on a good proportion of their games (maybe by artist Mark J. Brady?).


edit 07/01/2014 – I’ve received a rather nice response to my email to MJB confirming he was the cover artist for this game.

Phantom Attack is, well, quite frankly a bit crap 🙂 I’m not entirely sure what you’re supposed to do here apart from blasting away at the masks until the stage is clear.  Yup, 80’s entertainment @ £1.99 🙂

But I don’t care, I’m just happy that the little hole in my memory bank has been filled and it’s all thanks to Gamebase20.

Hmm, something doesn’t look quite right though.



Much better 😉



New Vic-20 games.

December has certainly been an exciting month for VIC-20 gamers judging by the number of quality releases just lately. It just goes to show how much love there is for Commodore’s friendly computer – take that Iain Lee!

The recent downpours and gale force winds we’ve had these past few days have made a bit of mess of things out in the garden and the sunlight shining on the windows only highlights how much crud has been flying about in the wind. That’s been the job this morning but now that all is back in order (until the next storm :-() I can fire up the VIC and settle down to some chunky pixel retro gaming.

First up we have a  port of the Atari 2600 classic, Pitfall.

Despite the fact that I’ve never been able to get the timing correct on the Gator levels, this is one hellava enjoyable game and brilliantly executed. It runs perfectly well under Vice but I had to consult the Denial forum for guidance to get it to load on my VIC – try Load “pitfall” ,8 instead of 8, 1. You’ll also need a 16k ram pack as well.

One, two three, one two three…jump, jump, run back a bit, ju…dammit, Gator grub 😦


I’ve been following the progress of Pooyan for the VIC-20 every since it was mentioned back in August and just before Christmas, a WIP, then ‘almost’ final release was made available.  Today I finally get the chance to take it for a spin and can honestly say that I’m absolutely loving it.

Although the original game dates back to the early 80’s, it wasn’t until a few years ago that i was introduced to Pooyan on the relatively obscure home micro, the CGL M5 (Sord M5)  at one of the gaming events hosted  by the Retro Computer Museum. Since then, I’d managed to acquire a copy for my NES and Commodore 64 and subsequently played the hell out of it.

This 16k VIC interpretation might not have the eye candy as the other ports (although it does have a great rendition of the intro)  the game play is spot on including a perfectly balanced trajectory of that wolf bashing super weapon – I have no idea what it is, but Wiki say’s it’s a slab of meat.

Lining up for another shot at those ballooning wolves.


Doom?….on an 8-bit computer? – no flippin way…Doom on a Vic-20? Get outta here.


This one has got to make you smile and if you’ve own the right hardware, is one to show off your +30 year old VIC.

You’ll need a 32k ram pack for this one so until I can get one myself (8 and 16k here), it’s emulation for me this time around.

Steve McCrea has done a magnificent job squeezing an approximation of ID’s classic FPS onto our humble VIC’s and comes complete with loading screen, main menu with that Doom sounding FX and even a rendition of  ‘at dooms gate’ whilst you play.


 O.k, so you’re going to have to use your imagination a bit here but it’s still mind blowing stuff when you consider the computer it’s running on.

Two guards, having a bad day.


Boulder Dan

I’m always up for a spot of Boulder Dash and this clone is really fun to play because there doesn’t seem to be a pesky timer rushing you around. Not only that, but it’ll quite happily run on an unexpanded VIC.

I can see me playing quite a bit of this over the coming winter evenings and well worth checking out if you fancy something really old school.


..and finally we have ‘Mike’s unexpanded type-in collection’  which is a collection of 21 games to sink your teeth into. I’m still going through some of these myself but have already found a few casual gaming gems.

To load, it’s best if you use ‘Load “*”,8’ followed by ‘Run’ to bring up the main menu.


Dig a little deeper around the internet  and you’ll also find a  handful of other games released this month  as well.

Long live the VIC-20!

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 🙂


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.


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


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)


IMG_4379 (Custom)

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

Commodore Free double whammy.

Two issues of Commodore Free magazine in one go? Don’t mind if I do!

Issues #74 and #75 are out now and available in all manner of digital reading formats including .d64

Personally, I’m all up for the .mobi’s as the Kindle app now supports keeping everything nice and tidy with the Collections feature…..


….followed by the .d64 loaded on my C64 because I still continue to get a kick out of seeing new stuff running on older hardware.

Issue #74 has a nice Vic-20 on the front hinting at the wealth of Vic-goodness inside.

* Commodore Free E-Cover Tape #7
* Readers Comments
* General News
– Happy Birthday MIDI 1.0
– Happy 50th Birthday Cassette
– 14 Year Birthday
– Non Functional Goodies
* C64 News
– KickAss Cruncher Plugins
– Dr. Evil Labs
– CODEBASE 64 Scanning the Keyboard
– UNP64 v2.30 Released
– Prg2Sid 0.80 Released
* VIC20 News
– Realms of Quest IV: 4-Level Demo
– Assembly Programming on Vic-20
– Boogieman, Exploria and Korque
– Theater Of War Trilogy
* Amiga News
– AROS Vision 2.0 based in Magellan
– AmigaKit AMITCP 4
– AEROS for Pi beta 4
– Obligement Magazine Issue 100
– New Software Releases by OnyxSoft
– SketchBlock 2.2
– AmiSystemRestore R1 Beta7
– Vampire 600 Accelerator
– Zomco’s parody of “Desert Dream”
– Interview Glenn Corpes
* Review: Moon Mission [C64]
* Review: Theater of War [VIC20]
* Interview with Ghislain de Blois
* Incomplete History of The VIC

Really looking forward to that last article.

And on to #75 with its Raspberry/Commodore PI cover.

* Editorial
* Commodore Free E-Cover Tape #8
* General News
– Retro Planet Issue 1
– Arc64 Updated To V2.5
– C&A Games Issue 7, 8, 9 and 10
– Retro Asylum: David Whittaker
– Retrocomputing Retr0sbiancante
– Cassiopei
* C64 News
– C64 Studio v3.1
– Submarine Rescue
– Windows 105
– Use Mssiah with sd2uiec
– Commodore and Lego
– Jim Drew Website + SuperCard Pro
– C64 80 Column Adapter
– Hoxs64 Emulator v1.0.8.6
* VIC20 News
– Pitfall
* C16 & Plus/4 News
– Vic20/C16 Newsstand Compilation 2
– Tree Some Released for the Plus/4
– C+4Hires Picture Disk Released
* Amiga News
– Bed Games 1: Carola
– Triangulation 118: Tim Jenison
– AmigaOS SDK Update (Finally)
– syaSokoban v2.0.1 for AROS
– WHDLoad Updates
* Speaking Notes for a Presentation
* Interview With Scott Hunter
* “The…System…Is…Down”

and a welcome return of the E-Cover tapes too……….Commodore overload!

Kettle on and head to

Happy reading and don’t forget to submit your feedback.