The Obsolete Gamer Show: Aaron Varkonyi (Aliens go Homerun)


We talk with Miami native, Aaron Varkonyi, developer of, Aliens go Homerun an innovative and interesting take on the classic game, Breakout. We talk with Aaron about his game, being a developer in South Florida and his upcoming game, Wonder Wickets.

You can check out, Aliens go home run on Steam

The Obsolete Gamer Show: Aaron Varkonyi (Aliens go Homerun)


We talk with Miami native, Aaron Varkonyi, developer of, Aliens go Homerun an innovative and interesting take on the classic game, Breakout. We talk with Aaron about his game, being a developer in South Florida and his upcoming game, Wonder Wickets.

You can check out, Aliens go home run on Steam – http://store.steampowered.com/app/514340/

Did you know: Vol 1

did_you_know

Did you know

There is a lot of random trivia and facts about classic video games. Some of it has historical content while others are just interesting to know. To continue spreading retro gaming knowledge we begin a new series that will showcase random classic gaming facts. Some you might already know, but we hope to surprise you from time to time.

Nolan Bushnell created Chuck E. Cheese

Nolan Bushnell and Chuck E Cheese

Depending on how old you are and where you lived you might know about or have gone to a Chuck E. Cheese. Chuck E. Cheese was a pizza restaurant that featured video games, prizes and a dancing mouse. It was the place to go for a kid’s birthday during its hay day as it featured everything a young child would want. It is no surprise the founder of Atari would create a place that showcase food, fun and video games. I personally went there for my thirteenth birthday and had a blast.

Steve Jobs created Breakout

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak

There is a little more to this story. With the success of Pong, created by Nolan Bushnell, he and Steve Bristow came up with an idea to create a single player version of Pong and so the concept of Breakout was born. Steve Jobs was tasked with creating the game and brought on Steve Wozniak to help engineer the game. After a lot of sleepless nights and other adventures the project was done. Now in the end Atari had to do some reworking to Wozniak’s design before the final product was released, but overall that is why Steve Jobs got the credit for the creation of Breakout.

Jack Black Stared in a Pitfall Commercial

Jack Black and Atari Pitfall

Funny man Jack Black long before we ever saw him on screen was in an Atari Pitfall commercial. It was in 1992 that the then 13-year-old Black appeared in the spot. Jack Black is counted among the notable celebrity gamers and here we see his history with classic games went way back.

Porn and Video Games go together

april o neil

For many a gamer, porn and video games go together like Cheetos and Mountain Dew, but did you know one porn star got her name from a video game? Adult actress, April O’Neil got her stage name from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles own reporter and turtle confidant, April O’ Neil. In addition, April loves gamer geeks specially for their video game knowledge. Google search in 3…2…1…

There is an Atari 3600 version of Halo

april o neil

Yes, the classic Xbox shooter, Halo has a version created for the Atari 2600. Ed Fries former vice president of game publishing at Microsoft showed off his creation in 2010 at the Classic Gaming Expo in Las Vegas. In the game you control Master Chief in an adventure type game where you explore 64 rooms shooting enemies and eventually encountering a final boss. Unfortunately, only about 100 cartridges were made so good luck getting your hands on one.

Just a Taste

There is a lot more history, trivia and weird facts and we will bring you more in the next installment. Until then tell us about classic gaming facts and history you know and perhaps we will feature it in a future article.

Arkanoid

Arkanoid - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Arkanoid (1986)
By: Taito  Genre: Bat ‘n’ Ball  Players: 1  Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Arcade  First Day Score: 27,690 (with control pad – eeek!)
Also Available For: Nintendo NES, Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Macintosh, PC, Commodore 64, MSX, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro, Atari 8-bit, Apple II, TRS-80
Download For: Xbox Live Arcade, Wii Virtual Console, iPhone

The history of videogames is a convoluted one. Many disagree even on what constitutes the first ever example of a videogame, nevermind some of the more intricate facts and figures, but one thing that surely cannot be disputed is the first popular game. Computer Space, unveiled by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney in 1971 brought gaming to the masses for the first time but it was too complicated for many users tastes. Realising this, the two talented engineers went back to the drawing board and returned the following year with Pong, which of course soon became a worldwide smash-hit. It’s simple tennis-style gameplay was hugely enjoyable for two players but what about one?

Arkanoid - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Fortunately the solo-gamer was soon catered for as well when Atari released Breakout. Instead of a ball being knocked backwards and forwards between two bats, this time the top of the screen was filled with bricks which the ball would slowly destroy one by one. This concept was a superb one but due to its simplicity it was also ripe for some improvements and new ideas and these reached their peak with Arkanoid! This classic, released by Taito in 1986, shares much with the game that inspired it but it’s got a good few tricks up its sleeve too. For starters it comes with a backstory, although I’m not sure it’s one that makes a huge amount of sense!

Arkanoid - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Apparently, “in an unknown time and era the mothership ‘Arkanoid’ was destroyed but a spacecraft, ‘Vaus’, escaped, only to end up trapped in space warped by someone…” Eeek, mysterious! Anyway, regardless of its rather vague, not to mention unnecessary story, it’s this Vaus that you’ll spend the game in control of. This arcade version used a paddle controller to do this, much like the original Breakout did, and this allows for the quick and precise movements needed to progress through the 32 single-screen stages. Each of these is filled with various arrangements of different coloured bricks which you must destroy by knocking the ball into them and keeping it in play by deflecting it with the Vaus.

Arkanoid - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Yep, that’s about as complicated as things get! If the ball falls off the bottom of the screen, it’ll cost you a life, so the object is to just keep going as long as you can, and the Vaus can only move left of right so this can get pretty tricky! Most of the bricks take a single strike to destroy but there are a couple of exceptions. Silver bricks take between two and five hits to destroy and gold ones are indestructible. These are of course usually positioned strategically around the screen to make access to the other bricks more difficult! Something else that does this is the aliens that appear from the top of each stage after a short while.

Arkanoid - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

These pesky things are easily destroyed by the ball but doing so sends it flying off at a random angle too. The best of the new features introduced here though is the power-ups. Some of the bricks release capsules when destroyed which drift slowly down the screen and each has a different but helpful effect: Enlarge (increases the size of the Vaus), Laser (equips it with lasers – my favourite!), Slow (slows the ball down), Disruption (splits the ball into three), Catch (catches the ball allowing you to reposition), Break (opens a warp to the next stage, and Player (extra life). These splendid capsules obviously make life a lot easier (and more interesting) but don’t lose a life grabbing one!

Arkanoid - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Arkanoid may have been released a full decade after Breakout but the simplicity of both games means neither really requires a huge amount of computing power. Indeed, while the graphics here are tidy and colourful there’s nothing really noteworthy about them and there’s no music at all, just a few sound effects, but none of that really matters with a game like this, which is still regarded as the pinnacle of its genre. There’s good reason for its reputation too. It was always amazingly playable and that remains the case today. Control over the Vaus is as precise as you could ask for thanks to the paddle control and the collision-detection is ultra-accurate too, both of which help you to make steady progress through the game, although the ball does increase in speed the longer you play which takes some getting used to (and lightning reflexes!). That specialised controller does make the game a little unrealistic to play via emulation though, so unless you’re lucky enough to find this cabinet anywhere, or even more lucky enough to actually own one, you’ll probably be better off with one of the mighty fine conversions (the Speccy version took up a sizable chunk of my youth!). Regardless of which format you play Arkanoid on though, you’ll still no doubt play it to death – it was and remains one of the most addictive games around!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6wXuFNJgEQ[/youtube]

RKS Score: 9/10

Steve Jobs 1955-2011: Technology pioneer worked in the early days of Atari

Steve Jobs

Mankind has lost one of the greatest inventors and visionaries of all time, as Apple has confirmed the death of Steve Jobs, the founder of the company.

Most famous for his role in pioneering the personal computer industry and reinventing technology with products such as the iPhone and the iPad, Jobs also had a role in the earliest days of the video game industry.

In 1974, an Atari receptionist came to video game pioneer Al Alcorn to tell him of a long haired young man in the lobby.

“We’ve got this kid in the lobby. He’s either got something or is a crackpot,” the receptionist told Alcorn.  After giving an interview where he’d exaggerated his electronics knowledge, an 18-year-old Jobs became Atari’s 40th employee, working for $5 an hour to tweak and finish an early handheld game called Touch Me.

Atari Touch Me

A short time later, Jobs invited his friend Steve Wozniak to show off a homemade version of Pong he’d developed, impressing Atari so much that he, too, was hired by the young video game company.

Jobs and Wozniak would later pair up to work on Atari’s 1976 release Breakout, the ball-and-paddle brick-breaking game that has been cloned a million times over, from 1987’s arcade hit Arkanoid to countless Flash-based clones on the internet today.  Offered a bonus by Atari if the number of chips that could be eliminated from the machine, Jobs offered to split the bonus with Wozniak, who worked for days on end to reduce the design to such a degree that Atari was unable to figure it out and had to redesign the circuit board over again.  Despite the fact that Wozniak did the work, Jobs took most of Atari’s bonus money for the project without Wozniak’s knowledge.

Jobs and Wozniak would then go on to form Apple Computer, the company that brought the computer into the home.  Almost ironically, the iPhone and iPad would become popular devices in the modern day for playing video games, putting his contributions to the industry at both the start and end of his historic career.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpVIufJ4qoU[/youtube]

Jobs was 56 years old.  “Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives,” read the statement from Apple that confirmed the passing of Jobs on the evening of October 5.

 

Atari Flashback

Atari Flashback console system

We all know that Atari no longer actually is Atari. It is just another game publishing brand name. But what happens when the executives running such a company decide to tap into its legendary hardware fame? Atari Flashback. That’’s what.

Atari Flashback is (theoretically) a retro gamer’’s wet dream. An Atari 7800 styled console (only smaller, without a cartridge slot and with a cheaper build), that runs on a normal AC adapter, includes 20 built-in Atari 2600 and 7800 games, and costs less than a contemporary pc game (and much less than a XBOX 360 one). You even get two 7800 styled joysticks thrown in the bargain.

Among the included games, some gems of the early video gaming history are to be found: Adventure, Breakout, Canyon Bomber, Revenge, Food Fight, Haunted House, Asteroids, Centipede, Warlords. You’’ll also get the dubious pleasure of experiencing the previously unreleased Atari version of the famous Saboteur. Just don’’t expect all those games to run as smoothly as they used to on the old machines. Atari Flashback is definitely not a true 7800 and it shows. Most of the games are emulated and a lot of them have serious gameplay, music or graphic glitches (Food Fight for example is a prime offender).

So… Should you buy this small retro-gadget? Depends. Atari Flashback is great value for the average (casual some might call him) gamer. The hardcore retro fan, on the other hand, will spot the various problems and the emulation inconsistencies, and might just have to wait for the Atari Flashback 2.0.