Street Fighter

Welcome aboard the Crapsville Express. Last time, Hard Drivin’ was served up as a turd for Review A Bad Game Day – this year the gong goes to another coin-op conversion.

Street_Fighter_1-c64

Game: Street Fighter
Genre: 
Fighting
Format:
 C64
Year: 1988
Publisher: GO!
Developer: Tiertex

Street Fighter

Prior to the sublime ‘Street Fighter II: The World Warrior’ SNES home conversion, there was the abhorrent C64 fighting game’ Street Fighter’.

Where does one even start with this game? For those of you not familiar with the series, ‘Street Fighter’ made its debut in the arcades in 1987. On the back of its success, the home version quickly followed on all conceivable platforms of the time, including the C64.

Street_Fighter_1-c64

Tiertex brought this foul stench of a fighting game to our trusty and much loved 8-bit home computer. I suspect the coding was done by a drunk programmer or their pet monkey. How this passed any quality assurance testing is beyond my comprehension. Anyway, on with the review…

‘Street Fighter’, as you may have guessed, is based on Capcom’s 1987 arcade game. You enter the worldwide martial arts tournament as Ryu and fight opponents from across the globe in order to become the street fighting champion. Ryu’s fighting arsenal is made up of various punches and kicks – that’s it (no special attacks!). Each battle has timed rounds; the winner being the last fighter standing. After each battle, Ryu competes in bonus rounds, smashing bricks to earn extra points.

Street_Fighter_1-c64

If you manage to bribe a friend to play ‘Street Fighter’, you could have yourself a two-player grudge match – Ryu vs Ken. The winner proceeds to take on the computer-controlled fighters, while the loser is subjected to watching this dreadful game being played – even the CIA plays by fairer rules of torture!

Street_Fighter_1-c64

The graphics are childish and messy – they do nothing to show off the C64’s abilities. The fighters tend to clash with the background. I reckon I could have drawn better sprites and backgrounds with crayons! ‘How about the sound?’ you may ask – let’s not even go there if you like your hearing the way it is. The effects and tunes are better suited for an Atari 2600 game, not a game that should be taking advantage of the C64’s SID chip. The clincher of this turdfest is the control – before there was button mashing, there was joystick and wrist breaking. The control is absolutely abysmal, by the time you attempt to pull off an attack; it is already too late, game over (which is probably a good thing!).

Street_Fighter_1-c64

The C64 had quite a few poor arcade conversions in its time, and sadly ‘Street Fighter’ makes this list. Had it not been for the stinker Hard Drivin’, this would have been number 1 in Crapsville. Play it at your peril!

GraphicsCrappy sprites with even crappier backgrounds.

15%

SoundTurn down the volume on your TV, I am warning you!

10%

PlayabilityLaughable. Apart from the terrible look and sound of this game, the controls let it down big time.

5%

LastabilityIt will last as fast as you can turn off your C64.

2%

OverallStay away! This is another poor C64 arcade conversion. If you want to play a great fighting game on your C64, try International Karate!

9%

 

 

Haunted Hill

haunted-hill-c64

Haunted Hill

With all the hubub about DRM and digital distribution of games, it’s real easy to forget that some platforms have been using the concept for DECADES.  One such platform was the Commodore 64, a system very near and dear to my heart.  And as such, I’d like to present a game that is similarly dear to me, as it’s one of the first games I ever played, Haunted Hill for the Commodore 64!

Written by George Richardson for Merlin’s Associates, its a simple Centipede style game released as a shareware title in 1983. But, as you’ll find out, it’s more than just that.

LeMans

LeMans - Commodore 64Format: Commodore 64 (C64)
Media: Cartridge
Year: 1982
Developer: HAL Labratory, Inc.
Publisher: Commodore
Game Mode: Single Player

LeMans

Gentlemen, start your engines! How apt that I pull out the LeMans C64 cartridge on this day, the start of the 2013 Formula 1 (F1) Grand Prix season. I am aware LeMans and F1 are two separate sanctioned sports, but hey, it is a racing game, and that is all there is to it. Perhaps I should have ripped out Checkered Flag on the Atari Lynx. I just have to stop second guessing myself and stick with this old game.

LeMans - Commodore 64

LeMans on the C64 is a top-down up-the-screen driving game, where you as the driver, must hit the pedal to the metal and drive to a never ending finish line. The goal of the game is to pass as many cars as you can. The more cars you overtake, the more points you earn. It’s not about the finish line in this game, it is all about accumulating the highest points score.The faster you go, the more points you earn – 2 points per metre to be exact. Every 10 cars passed you earn 1000 bonus points. Keep an eye on the countdown timer, as you will only get time extensions every 20,000 points. This is old school tough.

LeMans - Commodore 64

The strategy to doing well in LeMans is to drive as fast as you can for as long as you can, passing computer drivers (watch out as they veer in your path!) and traversing all kinds of terrain. The terrain sections in LeMans is what makes the game quite interesting – there are icy roads (your car slides as if it’s on skates), divided highways (squeezing into 2 lanes), night driving (relax, you have headlights) and the famous “LeMans Esses”.

LeMans - Commodore 64

Every time your car is hit by another vehicle or if you steer into the walls, your car turns into a wreck and you must “Pit” to the left as the on-screen message tells you to. This kills off precious seconds, so try and avoid hitting or being hit by cars and stop steering into walls. If you can avoid damage to your vehicle, then you will be well on your way to that precious high points score.

The only (fun) way to play this game is with the ‘Commodore Paddles’. The Paddles add to the playability of the game as you hold the accelerator button with your left thumb and steer with your right fingertips. There were no “steering wheel” contraptions for the C64 back in the day. The Paddles did (and still do) the job just right.

Well, enough of my ranting, I am off to play another game before the F1 race kicks off.

Logitech G27 Racing Wheel Review

Logitech G37 Racing Wheel

For those of you that know me well, you know that racing is one of my favorite activities to do not just in the gaming world but in real life as well. As far as reality goes, I’ve owned a track ready racing Mustang since 2004. I’ve been racing cars since about 1997 both on the street and at the track. The first time I ever raced a professional racing go-kart was about 1989. The first racing games I’ve played were Pole Position and Pit Stop 1 and 2 on the c64. The first arcade racing game I’ve ever played was Sega’s Outrun with the arcade console feeling like a car with pedals, steering wheel, and shifter. I’ve played almost every racing game ever made from games like RC Pro AM on NES, the Top Gear series on SNES, Lotus series on Amiga, Chase HQ on the arcade, Jaguar XJ 220 on the Amiga, Grand Prix Legends on PC, every Trackmania game on PC, every Need For Speed game on PC and consoles, every Codemasters racing game ever made, etc. I was ranked in the top 10 US players for Trackmania Nations when they were doing the world championship for the game.

Today I will look at Logitech’s G27 Racing Wheel. It is designed to be used with PC and with the Playstation 3 console.

rfactor

Setup – Installation and Software:

The installation on the PS3 is basically a plug and play procedure. For PC, you simply install the software from the drivers CD that comes with the unit. Shortly after installing the software and drivers you get prompted to plug in the wheel to one of your USB ports and it will be detected. You will know that the wheel is detected because it will spin like a bat out of hell for about two to three seconds and it will flash the tachometer RPM lights. After that, you can calibrate the wheel if it is needed. Once you’re done doing that, you’re ready to use it. Configuration and sub-calibration can be done through whatever game you are going to play.

The Wheel also comes with (RFactor) which is a very popular racing simulator.

Logitech-G27-full-set

Setup – Assembly and Physical Installation:

The first thing you want to do is connect all the subcomponents of the wheel to the main wheel unit. This means that you will plug in the pedals, shifter console, and AC adapter unit. After you have done so, you may need to assess your gaming desk area to make sure you have enough physical space to mount the wheel properly to a desk or table as well as find a comfortable chair and distance to your TV or monitor. You also want to make sure that all cables are tucked away so that they don’t interfere as you use the controller.

Both the wheel and shifter have plastic screws which you can use to secure them to the edge of your desk or table. I have found that they can slide off sometimes if the bottom surface of your desk doesn’t have the right kind of surface for them to stick to. I wish Logitech would have added a rubber surface of the plastic area that holds the controller in place. To me without such a surface friction it is easy for the controller to become loose while using it. Since I’m a low-tech-fix kind of guy, this isn’t much of a problem. I recommend to either glue a thin rubber piece to each plastic end or the even easier fix is to use a piece of cardboard in between the surfaces (just make sure you screw the plastic screws as tight as possible).

You might have to be careful as well with the pedals because the bottom is plastic as well. Since I have a tile floor all over my house I had to use a small portable rug to place it under the pedals as well as putting a heavy object behind the pedals to keep them from slipping further (remember you’re going to be putting a lot of pressure on them with your feet).

Once you have setup the wheel as needed, the fun starts!

trackmania-nations-forever

Test On Multiple Racing Games:

I tested the wheel on RFactor, Dirt 2, Dirt 3, Dirt Showdown, Grid, Trackmania United, Trackmania Nations, F1 2010, F1 2011, and F1 2012. For most of the games the wheel was enabled through the game options of the game if it didn’t automatically detect it and set it as the default control method. You can enable the motion feedback to get a more real feel of driving a real car with the resistance would feel in a real steering wheel. I found that with the G27 it was more enjoyable to do so after first of calibrating it to feel as you need it to based on your driving style. Also, it was overall more enjoyable on racing games which are more simulator than arcade style racing games. Simulators need exactness, whereas most arcade racers can be played even with keyboard or a cheap handheld controller.

Using a racing wheel on games like the Codemasters F1 games is almost necessary. I found it nearly unplayable to play such games using just a pure keyboard. With a racing wheel such as the G27 it becomes a real F1 car that you’re driving rather than a musclecar like it would feel with a primitive controller. It’s all about precision when you use a wheel. For this reason although we have the computer technology to do it, we still use a pedal and steering wheel in real cars as opposed to using joysticks like a normal video game controller or the controller for an RC car.

Logitech-G27-Racing-Wheel

Construction and Feel:

The materials used in the G27 are sturdy and it feels almost like you are racing using a aftermarket racing wheel like a Momo steering wheel for a racecar. Although most of the parts are plastic the G27 is durable under most wear and tear situations.

The shifter is both soft and sturdy. I would compare it to using a shifter in a manual Japanese car like Honda Prelude or Nissan Skyline. The wheel itself has flappy paddles which can be used to much like in a real Ferrari or Lamborghini. It is a matter of personal preference and the G27 provides both the flappy paddles and the normal manual shifter. The wheel part has an LED tachometer, which is color coated green, yellow, and red, which makes using a manual gearbox a more viable option in your game.

Since the pedals are made out of drilled metal it feels like the pedals found in a modified street car or a racecar. As they are sturdy, it’s no problem to push down on them as hard as you can, if need be. With the inclusion of a clutch pedal that’s highly responsive you can power drift to your hearts content if you want to drive like that.

logitech g27

Conclusion and Recommendations:

If you are serious about playing racing simulators I recommend a wheel like the G27 to get the precision you need for competitive racing.

A racing wheel system like this one works extremely well when paired up with the Playseat chairs that are ideal for having a sturdy armature that keeps your controllers in place and gives you a much more realistic car feel. I haven’t tested the G27 with a Playseat chair but I have used a chair like that at multiple game conventions and they do make a huge difference and are much more favorable over using a regular chair and desk/table for setting up a racing wheel.

The G27 costs about $200 retail so it might be outside the budget for many gamers but then again there aren’t that many racing simulation gamers out there anymore and those that are into that genre are always concerned with having as good of a controller as possible to be able to execute precise maneuvers.

The Gamers of Origin PC

Team Origin

The Gamers of Origin PC

One of the questions I was often asked during my time at Alienware was, are you guys really gamers and do you play games at work. I can tell you originally pretty much everyone at Alienware were gamers, just check out our interview with co-founder Alex Aguila and our gamer profile for Nelson Gonzalez., you can also check out our interview with Arthur Lewis. When I started back in 2001 most of us were avid gamers and would often have Lan parties at HQ or meet up to play games.

In our editorial where we asked, do you have to be a gamer to be in the industry? My opinion was that you do not need everyone in the company to be a gamer, but it does matter to have key people who at least understand the culture. When we talked with Origin PC not long after their launch it was clear the management understood games and gaming culture. It is also clear they are all gamers check out the gamer profile for CEO, Kevin Wasielewski and COO, Hector Penton. If you need more proof perhaps we can show a picture of their arcade games cabinets and Mr. Penton’s wall of PC game boxes.

In the meantime, here are some gamer profiles from Origin PC team members and if you want to game with Origin PC you can find them on Raptr and on Steam.

final fantasy 7

Name: Erika Mckinster

Gaming background: Final Fantasy series, Goldeneye, DOOM, Quake, Halo, Mass effect Trilogy, World of Warcraft, Diablo trilogy; too many to name!

Favorite classic game: Final Fantasy 7

Favorite modern game: Mass Effect

What are you playing now? Torchlight 2 & Borderlands 2

quake 1

Name: Fabian Santiesteban

Gaming background: As a child I was an avid gamer from the Atari 2600 while working my way up to the Sega Genesis to the PC’s of today.

Favorite classic game: Quake – Quake may be the most influential game of all time. Not the best game, not the most innovative, but the most influential. Nothing beats a god old fashion First Person Shooter.

Favorite modern game: MMORPG – My gaming preference roles have changed. Today I am a big fan of EVE Online – Age of Conan and The Secret World.

What are you playing now? I am currently playing Diablo 3 and looking to level up my toon to 60 so I can start my paragon levels. I am looking forward to the incoming patch that will give you the opportunity to group up to 8 players which will make it much more interesting.

mists-of-pandaria-world-of-warcraft

Name: Daniel Ovalle

Gaming background: I’ve built my own computers since I was 18 and was immersed into hardcore gaming while working at Alienware.

Favorite classic game: Quake

Favorite modern game: Too many to name.

What are you playing now? World of Warcraft, Mass Effect, SWTOR, Civ5, Guild Wars 2, Diablo3

counter-strike

Name: Jorge Percival

Gaming background: First ever encounter with gaming was an Atari 2600 that my parents had, though I was very young they tell me I wouldn’t let go of it. After that I can happily say I owned most consoles to date mostly for exclusive tittles. The fall of 1993 was when I really began paying attention to PC games when my uncle purchased DOOM for his PC, I was completely hooked on that game. Consoles introduced me to gaming the PC has kept me here.

Favorite classic game: My favorite classic game will always be Counter strike (pre source days) this was my real introduction to competitive gaming and the first game I truly took serious. I followed all the pro’s and tournaments I would fully engulf myself in the scene and what was going on during those days. Quake comes a close second.

Favorite modern game: My favorite modern game……….. would definitely have to be League of Legends, this game shows how great gameplay is still at the heart of a good game. We all love graphics but the game needs to have good mechanics and gameplay to continue to grow past its release. I am also a huge fan of RIOT as a developer they do great job of interacting with their community and are supporting the e-sports push here in the states.

What are you playing now? Right now I have lowered the amount of games that I play at a time (mostly due to League of Legends lol). League of Legends, Torchlight II, Borderlands 2. Those would be my top 3 in that order.

Quake 2 - Rocket Arena 2

Name: Tony Berry AKA Miztic1

Gaming background: Started gaming on C64/Atari 800XL then moved to the NES and all other consoles where I got hooked on gaming and once I got my first PC I discovered Wolfenstein 3D then eventually Doom and Quake 1 and those sent me over the edge of the gaming abyss.

Favorite classic game: Tossup between Quake 2: Rocket Arena 2 and Ultima Online. Consoles would be Legend of Zelda on NES.

Favorite modern game: This is a tough one, I would have to say WoW

What are you playing now? WoW, Diablo 3, torchlight and league of legends.

destruction derby

Name: Alvaro Masis in game (Propane)

Gaming background: Have been playing games since Lode Runner and have played on multiple platforms favorite PC by far

Favorite classic game: Favorite classic game would be destruction derby for the Commodore 64

Favorite modern game: Eve Online

What are you playing now? Guild Wars 2, Eve Online, Torch Light 2

Gyruss

Gyruss-NES-Gameplay-screenshot

Gyruss

Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars

In early 1989, Konami released an 8-bit video game cartridge for the Nintendo Entertainment System console under their Ultra Games label that would prove to a singularity among the typical shoot-’em-up choices available to a player: Gyruss.

Gameplay

Gyruss-NES-Gameplay-screenshot

Gyruss is a one-player game. Although it exists within the shooter genre, it neither scrolls horizontally nor vertically; instead, this is a “tube shooter,” somewhat like the classic title Tempest, with a fixed viewpoint that provides a faux three-dimensional feel. The player controls the ship by rotating it around a ring formation, always facing the center. Enemy ships not only move around in circles also, but also at different depths, sometimes as far out as the player-ship, while other times so far away they appear as just a couple pixels in the center of the screen.

Gyruss-NES-Gameplay-screenshot

There are two control modes offered, A and B. Control Mode A ensure that pressing Right on the directional pad always moves the ship to the right, no matter which vertical half of the screen the ship is on. In other words, if the ship is at the bottom center of the screen, and the player presses Right until the ship is fixated at the three o’clock position at the right center of the screen, the ship will stop there, at which point the player must start pressing Left to continue the ship’s movement rotation around the screen. While it is nice that the game provides a steering mode that prevents the cognitive dissonance of a D-Pad direction only being “correct” half the time, the effect of each pause halfway up the circle is jarring, and Control Mode B is preferred, in which a continual, smooth motion of the ship is achieved, and pressing a direction on the D-Pad will always go clockwise if pressing Left and counter-clockwise if pressing Right.

Gyruss-NES-Gameplay-screenshot

Of course, there is much more to this video game than simply providing the tube shooter experience, though it is significantly notable for that accolade, considering it is the only example of such a game for the NES. The loose plot, explained in a single frame if allowed past the title screen, only says “Mankind must rid the universe of evil. It’s a death defying risk, and only a hero can succeed.” A foreboding, humanoid figure appears in the background against the starfield as a backdrop to this ominous text.

Gyruss-NES-Gameplay-screenshot

Play proceeds throughout the solar system that human beings are familiar with. Beginning with Neptune, and proceeding through each of the other planets (even Pluto, which must be during a portion of its orbit that takes it inside Neptune’s), the player is aiming to arrive at the Sun for the final showdown. Each planet has a few fairly short levels, that conclude with a boss fight, and then a bonus stage afterward for points.

In order to defeat each “warp” or wave of enemies, the B button fires the blaster cannon, with a maximum of two shots on the screen at a time. Earning a weapons upgrade enables double-fire, which is obviously a great boon to success, and can be achieved by blasting the two side barriers off a bonus orb before hitting the orb directly. The A button fires a special weapon, of which the player only has a limited amount and most slowly earn more throughout the game. This blast plows through everything in front of the player, towards the middle of the screen, and includes eliminating certain objects and projectiles that the normal blaster cannot get rid off.

Gyruss-NES-Gameplay-screenshot

The majority of the obstacles to victory consist of groupings of enemies that fly in, dance around in some form of pattern, then make their way to the middle of the screen. Much like Galaga, a handful of groupings will all form together, and should be dealt with before they begin coming back and dive-bombing toward the player. In fact, similar to other shooters such as even Sky Shark, shooting down all the crafts in a particular squadron before they reach the middle garners bonus points.

Besides the alien spacecraft are other challenging deterrents to deal with, such as asteroids and solar fireballs to dodge, along with the lasers and other weapons fired by various enemies. Some weaponry utilized, like the homing solar flare fireballs used near the end of the game, actually slightly veer toward the player as they come from the center of the screen, placing an enhanced demand on reflexes and reaction time.

Gyruss-NES-Gameplay-screenshot

There are about forty levels in all, with a brief ending afterward before a “second quest” begins. The Konami code is intact, if the player wishes to begin with 30 lives, instead of the usual three extra. Thanks to the deft programming skills of the development staff at Konami, Gyruss proves to be a slick, fun, very enjoyable 8-bit video game. As a shooter, it is a very distinctive title, and although not as tortuously difficult as some, with or without proper endings, still offers a worthy playthrough for shmup fans. That being said, this is not a game for everyone: It is so different that many will balk at its strangeness and simply never quite “get it.” Gamers have tastes, and some may fall in love with this selection.

Graphics

Gyruss-NES-Gameplay-screenshot

Gyruss is a good-lookin’ little vidya game. The action is frenetic and fast-paced, complete with Konami’s signature visuals, even down to the small yellow-and-orange circular-oriented explosions that can be seen elsewhere in such NES cartridges as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game. Solid ship designs and fancy beam weapon visuals aside, what may be most admirable of Gyruss is the crazy amount of sprites, for an 8-bit hardware machine at least, that it manages to juggle on-screen all at the same time. Granted, this comes with some flickering issues, but surprisingly minor, and without slowdown. The bosses are honestly a letdown at times, being somewhat small and not quite intimidating, but the strictures of the characterization were likely limited by the tube theme—which, in itself, is a graphical feast that mostly makes up for other nitpicky flaws. There is something very appropriate about a shoot-’em-up that strives to make the player feel as though they are shooting through space toward an ultimate destination.

Sound

Gyruss-NES-Gameplay-screenshot

The soundtrack is great. Really, it is a Konami work, so the usual high quality can be expected, complete with the familiar Pause sound effect. The background tunes get away from the period rock of something like Base Wars or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project, and settle into a motif more apropo of the setting at hand, fast-paced enough to keep adequate adrenaline pumping, with skillful composition that will never distract by its badness.

Originality

If one were to look too closely, one would have to frown and conclude that Gyruss is not entirely innovative: The “space shooter” trope has been endlessly retread for decades, down to the spacey designs of pattern-flying enemy squadrons that dive-bomb at a double-firing protagonist against a shooting-starfield background effect. It is, almost exclusively, the tube element that makes this an original, creative entry in the NES canon of gaming.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BF4img_CyM[/youtube]

The most critical of observers could also say that Konami did not seem to try as hard with this one; the level-by-level execution is fairly straightforward, even with some quirky variety at points like the level without enemies where the player only needs to dodge incoming objects. The ending consists of a modest animation and one line of text (note: to be fair, the version on the Famicom Disk System is longer and less stripped-down). However, to purely take on a gaming perspective, that of a fan of video games, that of a human being with a controller in hand ready to take on the villains of the galaxy, that of purely sitting down in seeking a fun way to pass the time, Gyruss deserves its rating of four stars out of five. The five-word review goes like this: This is a great game.

Exploring the Commodore 64: Part 2

Having now had my first taste of the much-loved Commodore 64 , I figured it was time to revisit it and try a few more games. Like the first post, the games featured here were all available elsewhere but were probably most famous as C64 games, especially a certain few, but unlike last time I’m somewhat more familiar with these games, having played them or similar games elsewhere, which should actually prove better for familiarising me with the C64’s abilities. One thing to note is that, as you may have noticed, all the games selected are arcade-style games. I thought this would be okay since I’m just seeing what the C64 is like as a system and I don’t really have time to learn the intricacies of some of the great strategy and adventure games the system offers such as The Sentinel, Forbidden Forest, Citadel, etc, but I certainly intend to play them eventually, at which time I’m sure you’ll hear about it here! For now though, here’s my first impressions of these games:

International Karate (1986)

International-Karate-commodore-64
I’ve long been a fan of the supreme IK+ on the Amiga but I must admit I’ve never played this prequel before. As far as 8-bit micro’s are concerned I was always an ‘Exploding Fist’ fan but if the time I’ve now spent on this is anything to go by, I’ve been missing out! IK+ is great fun but is pretty fast-paced, even manic at times, with its three simultaneous combatants. IK is a little more sedate. Since it’s just one-on-one contests, you’re afforded more time to try to out-fox your opponent and score a knockdown. I greatly enjoyed this one with its finely-honed gameplay, good selection of moves, and nice, varied backgrounds, and it will definitely see more play!

Wizball (1987)

Wizball-commodore-64
It was at R3Play when I was reminded of this game, while watching the great Jon Hare doing his presentation. He asked who had played Wizball (his first big hit) so I enthusiastically raised my hand! Then he asked who had played the ‘proper’ version on the C64. I had to sheepishly lower my hand, but I vowed that I would play it, and soon! I used to own the Speccy version and I didn’t really have a blinking clue what I was doing, but I also later bought it for the Amiga and enjoyed it much more there, actually making a little progress (just a little though!). Having now played this original version, I’m… a little disappointed to be honest! I’ve been hearing C64 fans raving about this game for so many years, I was expecting to be bowled over. I was expecting all my indifference towards the game to disappear as it became instantly clear why the game was so revered. But that never happened. The graphics are quite nice and I found it very addictive, but I also found it tough and frustrating too, and the sound is awful. I did quite enjoy playing it, and it’s a game that it’s satisfying to do well at so I’ll keep trying, but not this version I’m afraid. I’ll go back to the Amiga version I think, sorry C64 fans!

Turrican (1989)

Turrican-commodore-64
This is another one I’ve played elsewhere (kind of), specifically Mega Turrican for the MegaDrive, but it is again a game best known on, and originally developed for the C64, and I must say… it’s impressive stuff! Turrican was perhaps initially noticed for its admittedly superb aesthetics but, as I soon discovered, even this first version of the first game is far from a one-trick-pony – the superb graphics and music merely complement the top-notch game design rather than cover its flaws. Although seemingly influenced by Metroid on the NES, Turrican is much more focused on action, specifically shooting, but of course even I knew that much already! There’s a lot of blasting to do here though, with several weapon power-ups available to increase the range and power of hand-held gun (or ‘arm-cannon’), and with a large number of varied enemies to mow down as you clamber around the large, multi-tiered stages, there’s certainly a lot to hold your attention. I’ve played a good few ‘run n gunners’ over the years, and I greatly enjoyed the MD version of Turrican, so I’m pleased to find that this original version is just as much fun to play. Now to have a look at the sequel!

Dropzone (1984)

Dropzone-commodore-64
Considering I’m supposedly an Archer MacLean fan, it’s rather embarrassing to confess here that I have never previously played this game! I am a big fan of Datastorm on the Amiga though, and finally playing Dropzone reveals the Amiga game to be far more like Archer’s classic than Defender, of which it is supposedly a clone. So, not only was it quickly familiar to me but I also soon saw why it’s so loved (unlike my time with Wizball!). It took me a few moments to work out where I was supposed to be dropping off the pods but I was soon blasting away fairly convincingly. Having said that, Datastorm is no walk in the park and this game is even harder! The pods are seemingly abducted by the Landers (sorry, they’re called ‘Planters’ here) every few seconds so the priority is to rescue them very quickly it seems. After that it’s a manic shooting gallery as you attempt to take out all the evil alien ships. This really is a superb shmup, probably the best I’ve played on any 8-bit micro, and has some great little touches, especially those fantastic firework-like explosions. A superb title I would’ve undoubtedly spent a lot of time on if I had a C64.

Pitstop (1983)

Pitstop-commodore-64
Now I don’t like to be unkind to a system which I’m pretty much just using as a guest at this point, but whoever suggested I give this one a try must’ve surely been taking the piss! I’m firmly of the opinion that into-the-screen racing games are a genre that the earlier systems couldn’t really do justice to, and this is a very early example, but c’mon! This Epyx release reminded me one of those handheld LCD games where you move the car at the bottom of the display left or right across three lanes to avoid the infinite slower cars that also occupy them. Those devices are okay for what they are but I would expect a lot more from a C64 (or indeed a Speccy) F1-style game! The graphics and sound here are dire and the gameplay gets annoyingly repetitive after just a few minutes of play. Maybe the sequel is better but I can only assume I’ve been the victim of a joke with this game!

The Verdict:
Well, it took me more than 20 years but I’ve now finally played some games on this iconic system, and it’s a little tough to summarise my experience. To use a football analogy, it’s like supporting Liverpool for all these years, then trying to see what it would’ve been like to be a Manchester United fan the whole time (the CPC would be like Scunthorpe or something of course – hee hee!). Sure I could enjoy watching the United team play but would my heart really be in it?

I certainly can’t deny that the C64 is a competent machine though, with some outstanding games, and is almost certainly more technically gifted than the Speccy – despite having far blockier graphics, the extra colours do make a difference and the famed SID sound chip makes a huge difference – the Speccy’s audio ‘abilities’ are hard to defend, even as a Speccy fan! I’m a big fan of videogame music so I imagine listening to old SID music must be an enormously nostalgic experience for gamers who grew up with a C64 and that’s something I certainly missed out on.

The experience of being a C64 owner must’ve been pretty similar to that of being a Speccy owner – the machines are fundamentally very similar of course – but I reckon I would’ve had a great time as the former. Perhaps they are suited to different types of games befitting their particular specialities but I’ve greatly enjoyed discovering these great C64 games regardless. That said, I’ll always have more affection for the Speccy, that will never change (it is best, after all!), but I am no longer a stranger to the ways of the C64!

The Interview: 8-Bit Weapon

8-bit weapon

8-Bit Weapon

Anyone who is a fan of classic gaming has to be a fan of gaming music. Even though some of the music from the 8-bit generation was simple, often it was well done and entertaining. I think most of all the music stuck in our heads and just as we wanted to push it out, we realized it was a pretty good tune.

Meet Seth and Michelle two people who loved classic video game soundtracks so much they began creating their own music and have performed across two continents. Obsolete Gamer was lucky enough to see them live at E3 2011 and even recorded a bit.

[youtube id=”UM1bmLk5zLI” width=”633″ height=”356″]

After the event, we had to interview them and they were kind enough to answer all our questions.

What was your first computer and what got you into using computers?

Michelle: My brother is who got me into using computers because he had a C64 and would let me play games on it.

Seth: The Commodore 64 was the first computer I could call my own. My neighbor Oscar had one and I’d spend countless hours watching him play his, especially Adventure Construction Set by EA. Hearing the music and watching the graphics etc, I had to get one. I begged my Dad to get my brother and I one and he eventually did.

What do you like more, consoles or computers?

Michelle: I grew up playing games on the C64 and the Amiga and I have the fondest memories using the computers because I would play games like Zack McCracken and the Alien Mind Benders, Maniac Mansion and Little Computer People and I still enjoy playing those types of games today.

Seth: I grew up with computers (C64/IBM/Apple II) and never owned a console myself until I got a game boy in 1992. I enjoy them both equally now, however computer’s had the best RPG’s hand’s down over consoles. Games like Wasteland, Bard’s Tale, Dragon Wars, Ultima’s etc were either unavailable or watered down/changed for their console versions.

Seth-8-Bit_Weapon

What is your favorite sound platform to work on (SID, etc)?

Michelle: I use my Game Boy because it’s the most portable.  My favorite sound is the SID though.

Seth: I love working with all the chips like an orchestra, but the Commodore 64’s SID chip will always be my favorite.

Name the top 5 musicians or musical groups that inspired you to make the music you make today!

Michelle: DEVO, Depeche Mode, Gwen Stefani, YYYs, The Doors

Seth: DEVO, Vince Clarke (Depeche mode/Yaz/Yazoo/Erasure/etc), Alan Wilder (Depeche mode/Recoil), Kraftwerk, and Jean Michel Jarre. There are also chip music composers like Dave Warhol, Martin Galway, Kennith Arnold, George “The Fatman” Sanger, and Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka that inspire me from a chiptune perspective.

What do you think about people’s desire for all retro stuff (video games, as well as if you want to make stuff like movies such as The A-Team, G.I. Joe, Transformers, etc.)

Michelle: It’s cool that people are into the retro stuff, but it’s also making it harder to acquire items I want.

Seth: I think it’s fun, but yeah, ebay is getting more and more expensive as we compete with collectors while trying to acquire more gear! lol

Compute-Her

What was the old console or computer that you wish you had back in the day but couldn’t afford?

Michelle: My family had all of them, so I was lucky.

Seth: Amiga 500 I wanted pretty bad but I knew my family could never afford it. Now we have an Amiga 1200, so dreams do come true!

What is your favorite kind of music to sample from?

Michelle: I don’t use samples.

Seth: We don’t sample any music or sound effects. Everything you hear is from us controlling the chips of each computer or console directly with software to make original music with.

8-bit, 16-bit, 32-bit, or 64-bit and beyond… which do you like the most, and what do you like the most about it?

Michelle: 8-Bit for it’s simplicity.

Seth: 8 Bit 4 life~! It’s powerful enough to run games, graphics, and music without over doing it.

8-Bit Weapon Group

What is your favorite medium for distributing music and why?

Michelle: CD Baby because they do all of the work.

Seth: MP3 because we don’t have to make them by hand and mail them out all over the world. haha

What do you like the most about your fans?

Michelle: They are very unique people and are interesting to talk to.  They are also very supportive of my music and I really appreciate that.

Seth: Our fans our really great people! Some are fans of gaming, some are not, but they are all about the music!

You can check out their website 8-Bit Weapon and find and purchase their music here.

 

CD gaming from the late 80s

It was 1992 when CD-ROMs became widely available to us gnomes. And, let me tell you, we were thoroughly impressed. Even felt like digital entertainment pioneers, like taking part in some sort of video game revolution. Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective (mobygames entry here) in FMV astonished us more than C-3PO astonished the (much hated) ewoks, and Sierra’s Jones in the Fast Lane (mobygames entry here) made us hopelessly worship the new medium.
Sound-Blaster-Pro
The Sound Blaster Pro. The gnomes’ entrance to CD gaming.

 

Little did we know how outdated we were. How pathetically passe, even by the low late-adapting standards of gnomish society.You see, oh patient and wise reader, CD gaming had hit the mainstream gaming market since the late 80s. The very late 80s actually, or to be more precise since December 1989, when Codemasters (then publishers of such classics as Dizzy, Ghostbusters and Jet Bike Simulator, now found here) released their famous CD Games Pack, an impressive collection of 30 games all on one CD. The compilation was available for 8-bit home computers like the Amstrad CPC, the Spectrum and the Commodore 64.CDgamepack.2

The CD Games Pack. Obviously via Blitz Games.
On to some impressive CD Games Pack facts, then(besides of course providing then-next-gen fun to 8-bit owners):

a) No CD-ROM drive was needed, as any audio CD-player would do. Loading software (on tape or disc) and a cable (connecting the CD player to the joystick port) were provided to make said miracle happen.

b) The games loaded faster and more reliably than their tape counterparts.

c) It didn’t cost much more than an average game.

d) It was a definite commercial flop. Go figure…

[UPDATE] Apparently the brilliant online version of the fondly remebered CRASH magazine has a review of the CD Games Pack. Read it here.

Equinoxe – Evolution (8‐Bit Girl) EP

Equinoxe - Evolution (8‐Bit Girl) EP cover

Evolution (8‐Bit Girl) contains seven tracks of post modern electronic dance music, featuring an array of 8‐bit samples from the C64/SID, Amiga/OctaMED, NES, genuine datasette and
more.

The EP is a collection of love songs to the 8‐bit generation.

Evolution is intended to bridge the gap between the classic music of the 8‐bit era by using the Commodore 64 as an instrument. Surrounding the C64 are analogue synthesizers, grooves and beats that bridge the gap between the 1980’s and today.  Using VSTs, computer sequencers and synths, equinoxe has decided to go back to the machine that started his musical journey: synthesising and recording new sounds, and emulating classic ones using this iconic machine and other devices, to craft them into music that is easily accessible so that a new generation can enjoy the classic sounds of this truly unique machine.

1. Back in the Day

‘Back in the Day’ is a driving piece of music that sets the tone up for the album and introduces themes that will be heard later on. Originally the track was going to have a more epic ‘Overture’ like feel to it but rather than start slowly it was decided to break straight into the groove!

2. 1984

Inspired by David Whittaker’s score for ‘Lazy Jones’, 1984 is a short track which reminds us of where the music all started on the early computers. Thanks to these early games the music started to get more complex and ambitious, ‘1984’ takes us back to the style where it all began.

3. His Name Was SID

Primarily using sounds sourced from a Commodore 64 with some tracker sequences from the Amiga, ‘His Name was SID’ is a 8-Bit version of a previous song by equinoxe and is inspired by loading screen and in-game remixes of pop songs that were programmed for early home computers.

4. Evolution (8-Bit Girl)

Evolution is a love song to the 8-Bit Generation. Inspired by the simple, catchy melodies and groove of loader music and influenced by classic C64 composers such as Rob Hubbard and Martin Galway, Evolution is a bond between the music of the C64 and the music of today. It features samples like a the Ghostbusters game loading from C64 datasette, and a mobile phone interference.

5. ConsciousNES

Using sounds sourced from a Nintendo NES, ConsciousNES maintains the groove and the feel of the album but shows us the other side of 8-Bit, the console side.

6. Continue?

The themes and feel of ‘Back in The Day’ are revisited in a long form track that plays out the album.

Free Bonus Download: Sanxion Loader (Thalamusik) (equinoxe Remix)

A remix of Rob Hubbard’s classic loader music for ‘Sanxion’, ‘Thalamusik’ just had to be remixed while working on my 8-bit project as it’s one of my favourite C64 tunes ever!

Head to http://equinoxestudios.co.uk/music for more info.

C64 nostalgia

Remember the legendary C64? Remember the loading problems? The impressive color graphics? Actually I don’t, but I am not the disrespectful type. I do know what C64 meant (and means) to a lot of people. And those people (and us of course) are in for a treat.

c64game

C64s.com is offering a huge variety of Java emulated C64 games for free. Head over there and take a look at classy classic games like Adventure, Dizzy and Rick Dangerous.


Exploring the Commodore 64: Part 1

Commodore 64

As retro gamers, we, by our very definition, have been playing games a long time. During this time, only the most privileged of us had the luxury of access to most or all of the systems available. Most of us had to make do with just one at a time, and often not even the system of our choice either. I didn’t really know much about home computers when my parents bought me a ZX Spectrum for Christmas but luckily it turned out they had made a good choice.

I soon discovered that some of my friends also owned Spectrums, including one of my best friends, Stu. A couple of my other friends owned Amstrad CPC’s, including my other best mate, Luke. I did not, however, know anyone who owned a Commodore 64 which, looking back, is pretty strange! Not long after becoming a Speccy owner I also somewhat predictably became a Speccy fanboy and began looking upon the C64 as an inferior rival machine, something which the lack of any C64-owning friends made worse. As a result of this, I have to this day not played any C64 games! As you might imagine, as a self-professed retro gamer, this is an entirely unacceptable state of affairs! To this end, I have decided that I must immerse myself in the world of all the computers and consoles I missed the first time around due to having a rival machine, or for some other reason, and I will start with the much-loved Commodore 64.

My original idea was to ask my fellow Retro Gamer Forum members to vote for a single game that they felt best represented the old beige breadbin, and then do a detailed report on that, but I was soon besieged by many suggestions covering a great variety of genres. So, instead I will have a quick play of some of these titles and present my first impressions of both the games themselves, and the system generally, here in this series of features.

The first game I tried (and, historically for me, the first C64 game ever played) is:

Buggy Boy (1987)

Buggy Boy - Commodore 64 - Gameplay Screenshot

This is one I’ve heard about ever since it first came out but never got around to playing on any system. I’ve long heard, however, that the C64 version is the best. So… the best version of a previously unplayed but highly regarded game… Seems like as good a place to start as any! In my experience, into-the-screen racers are rarely enjoyable on older systems so to find that this is an instantly accessible and playable game is all the more pleasing. As most of you will no doubt know, the game involves racing around each of the five courses to a fairly strict time limit. Driving through gates and collecting flags earns you points, whilst hitting any of the many objects that litter each course (such as rock, walls, barriers, etc) costs you valuable time. I’ve really enjoyed playing this highly-regarded classic. The graphics are a bit blocky (one of the things I used to use in my anti-C64 arguments!) but there’s nice use of colours and it’s great fun and very addictive. I’ll definitely be returning to this one at some point. So, we’re off to a good start!

Uridium (1986)

Uridium- Commodore 64 - Gameplay Screenshot

I think I played this very briefly on my Speccy but this represents my first go on it proper. It’s a fairly unique game in that it’s both a horizontal and vertical scrolling shooter! In other words, it’s viewed from above but scrolls horizontally, and it’s a little disorientating to start with. To be honest I found it really tough going – in addition to the odd viewpoint, it seems to be something of a trial and error game with seemingly unassuming ground objects causing death but others not. After quite a bit of practise however, I made some progress, as you can see from the screenshot! Graphically I found it a bit drab and I don’t like the sprite for the ship you control (the ‘Manta’), but the music and sound effects are pretty good. It’s very addictive too – it’s one of those shmups that’s tough but one that you’re determined to do well at. Another good one then, and one I’ll be playing again. Having said that, I can’t imagine I’ll be seeing all fifteen levels any time soon!

Impossible Mission (1984)

Impossible Mission- Commodore 64 - Gameplay Screenshot

I actually had (and still have) this on my good old Master System, so this version is actually a slight step down for me. However, it and its sequel are most famous as C64 games so I thought I’d give this version a go too. Running and jumping around the multi-platformed complex of Professor Elvin Atombender remains as playable and addictive as it ever was and I can see why this version was so popular. Control over your athletic avatar is as precise as you would expect and, after some practise, some pretty lengthy sessions can be enjoyed. However, the problem that I experienced in the MS version is also a problem here – those bloody puzzles! I was never much cop at them and I’m still flummoxed! A timeless classic though, to be sure.

Rescue On Fractalus! (1985)

Rescue On Fractalus- Commodore 64 - Gameplay Screenshot

Whilst I had heard of this game, I really didn’t have a clue what to expect, so after loading it and flying aimlessly around the jagged landscape for a while, I figured I’d better try to find out how to play it. A brief period of research later and I actually made some progress! Apparently the goal is to fly around looking for downed pilots and rescue them. Of course, there’s more to it than that – you have to actually land your craft near the pilots, cut the power, wait until they run over, then let them in before they die in the poisonous atmosphere whilst lots of mountain-top guns try to stop you! I enjoyed getting the hang of this one and was particularly proud of myself when I rescued my first pilot, but I still found it to be a bit aimless – I was flying around for about 10 minutes without finding a pilot at one point. Still, perseverance will no doubt pay dividends and persevere I will.

Enforcer (1992)

Enforcer- Commodore 64 - Gameplay Screenshot
After having this one recommended I was surprised to see how late it was released. I was well into blasting away on my MegaDrive by this point so it’s little wonder I’ve never heard of it. If I had played it during that period though, I’m not sure it would’ve been a huge step down – this is impressive stuff! Clearly taking its inspiration from other classic shmups, notably R-Type, this game really shows what the C64 is capable of. Featuring fast, numerous sprites, both decent in-game music and sound effects (even the Amiga rarely had this!), silky smooth scrolling, and plenty of challenging, addictive shooting action. On first impressions at least, this is the best shmup I’ve played on any 8-bit computer.

So, after playing my first five C64 games, I’m now starting to get a good idea of what the system was like. First impressions are excellent but I’m not finished yet! I’ll play a few more yet before giving my final verdict on the classic micro, so look out for the next five!

Games Coming Out For PC On November 2010

Archon Classic
Archon Classic

Archon Classic, November 2 2010

If you’ve never played Archon for the c64 then you’re probably missing out on the original hardcore pvp game based on chess and fantasy wars. I am totally getting this! Actually I just bought it on Steam and I hate Steam. Here is the link.

Call of Duty: Black Ops, November 9 2010

The CoD franchise is going strong and this seems like another solid title for FPS fans.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, November 16 2010

This franchise is the same thing over and over again. Kind of bored of it and how unrealistic they are. Do any of the things in these games and end up arrested or dead in real life. I’d rather play more serious racing games.

Create, November 16 2010

Kind of neat to see EA try to release a puzzle game. Let’s see how this venture goes for them. Seems like a variation on Gary’s Mod.

Richard M. Holmes: Club V3

ClubV3 Social Network Games logo

Name: Richard M Holmes

Company: Club V3 Ltd, Isle of Man, British Isles

Profession: Director of computer games companies since 1993

Favorite Classic Game: Pirates!

Quote: Simply a great game where you can slip into a different era and life from the comfort of your chair without unnecessary features. With each new version it gets better, whilst not destroying the simplicity addictiveness of the core game. The addition of the dancing in the latest version is superb and is a wonderful counterbalance to the hack and thrust of the remainder of the game. First played it on the C64 for months, then again on Amiga and three times on PC. For years…


Combat (Atari)

Atari Combat
Atari Combat

There is just something grand about opening up a brand new video game console and finding it packed full of everything you need including a game so you can start playing right away. With my Atari 2600 when I received it the system came with 27 games!

Combat shipped with the Atari 2600 in the fall of 1977 and was based off of black and white coin-op games, Tank and Anti-Aircraft II. The game had what could be called “Pong” like graphics, but did feature a variety of colors. More importantly it was the ultimate two player game at the time as the game was about fighting against your opponent in tanks, jets and biplanes.

Atari Combat
Atari Combat

Tank Game

The Tank game featured two tanks you could move around the “field” and fire at each other, the side with the most points would win, but there were various conditions you could play under. In some instances the board dynamic would change giving you different hiding spots and an invisible mode. There were also different ways to fire at your opponent including your normal straight firing missiles, your guided missiles and missiles that could bounce off walls.

Atari Combat
Atari Combat

Biplanes & Jets

In the flying levels you could control either biplanes, jets or a bomber. In most instances you would face of in one-on-one, two-on-two or three-on-three battles, but you could also have miss-matched battles and one where three biplanes would face a bomber. Most of the levels were the same, either it would be a clear “sky” or have two clouds which you could hide within. The firing modes were also slightly different offering a normal missile, machine gun and guided missile.

I personally played Combat for hours against my sister who was extremely good at tank pong. What made the game so fun was the two player aspect and even though to today’s eyes one may think the game was simple it took on a whole new dynamic just by switching levels. Even when we got Pac-Man as a present a few weeks later we always came back to Combat because of the fun factor.

Atari Combat cartridge
Atari Combat cartridge

Releases

Combat was not always shipped with the VCS (2600) however other versions were sold most notably for the Sears console. Tank Plus was the name released under Sears Telegames. Frontline was the name Combat was released under in Canadian by Zellers. The game was released as just Tank by CCE in South America for the 2600. Dynacom and JVP released the game under the name Combat for Brazil.

Atari Combat game card
Atari Combat game card

Atari Combat box art
Atari Combat box art

Glen VanDenBiggelaar: The Amiga Lounge

Amiga 500
Amiga 500

The Amiga Lounge

Many of us at Obsolete Gamer are fans of and owners of the Amiga computer so any chance to talk about the culture and community is a joy for us. In addition we are profiling stories on the Amiga in an effort to assist the Viva Amiga team with their upcoming documentary.

Glen VanDenBiggelaar is the owner of The Amiga Lounge where he shares his love of all things Amiga including his own experiences, collecting, and building of the commodore Amiga. We were able to get a great look into his corner of the Amiga world.

Obsolete Gamer: How did you come to create the Amiga lounge?

Glen: The Amiga lounge came from a need to research the Amiga when I decided to jump into the hobby. Before the Amiga, I was collecting and restoring the TRS-80 Color Computer and built www.thecocolounge.com website . Like the Amiga lounge, I had an on-line store and such, and during that time I was getting frustrated with the limits of the Co Co. One day, I was having breakfast with my best friend and his father, I knew that he had been a veteran at Xerox for over 30 years and he always had some fascinating story about Xerox and computers, and he suggested I look at the Amiga. I then found out he was one of the first people to have a Commodore PET in Canada, and later one of the First Amiga’s in Canada, going right to Commodore to get them. He passed away a few years back and left me all his Amiga’s in his will. Tons of books and software and such. The blog started out as a “Blogger” site, but when Google decide to take away FTP transferring to the blog, I then decided to expand the site to try to make it a “one stop” site with all the information I could find in one place instead of surfing all over the net and book making hundreds of sites.

The “Commodore” pages came after I read the book “ON THE EDGE- The Spectacular rise and fall of Commodore”-by Brian Bagnal. I instantly fell in love with the history of the company and started collecting the other Commodore Computers. I started with the “Ugly Stepchild” of the Commodore line- the TED Series and also fell in love with it. People tend to jump on the Plus /4 as a pile of crap and never really gave that computer its rightful due; they just compare it to the C64. It was never meant to compete or replace the C64, but nobody cared and it died a quick and horrible death because of that. I then got a PET in and so forth, so the website just grew and grew. I still have a ton of work to do on the Non – Amiga pages, just time is not there.

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about your personal experience with Amiga computers?

Glen: My experience with Amiga’s has been great. Back when I was doing the CoCo, everyone had heard or seen a CoCo or new someone who had one, so it wasn’t very awe inspiring. The Amiga on the other hand is a completely different story. If I am talking to a person who used the Amiga, a flood of stories come out at the wonderful things they could do with it. It sounds corny, but these days, a computer is just looked at as a tool, like a hammer for example. No one is truly fascinated at what the box can do for them, or the joy they had discovered making Music Demos or such. The users have such fond memories of the machine, that it is almost legendary. For those people that have never heard of the Amiga, they are usually fascinated to hear that some  of their favorite movies or TV shows (computer animation) was done on the Amiga, and always say why didn’t we know about this back then. The best part is showing of the CDTV or the CD32, for even the diehard video game collectors, usually never seen or heard of them. Everybody seems to agree though, that the story of both the Amiga and Commodore is fascinating and sad that certain “forces” are doing their best to re-write history and erase Commodore and the Amiga from it.

Amiga 1000
Amiga 1000

Obsolete Gamer: Besides your own blog how active have you been in the Amiga community?

Glen: Besides belonging to a Few Amiga Forums (just no time to Cover them all), I belong to the local user group AMICUE. AMICUE doesn’t really focus on Amiga’s anymore; it’s more of a small social club that its members have been going to for years. I am trying to bring back life to the club, by bringing Videos of new Amiga’s, interviews with the creators and trying to get companies like AMITRIX to make new hardware again for the Amiga. So far, it’s a slow, hard battle, as most members got rid of their Amiga’s years ago. I always feel I can do more though. If work and money were not a driving factor in my life, I would push Amitrix to make more hardware, or create a company and make it myself. It was always my goal for the online store, to put the stuff I can’t use back to the Community, and the (small) profits that I make, all go back into the community, by buying more stuff from the Amiga Vendors. I COULD make tons more money on EBay, but I feel that the greed on EBay actually hurts the Amiga Community then helps it.

Obsolete Gamer: What is it like to be an Amiga collector?

Glen: I consider myself a “Computer Historian” as I am fascinated and could actually teach some computer history. Being an Amiga Collector is a perfect “spring board” for that, as EVERY Amiga or collection I have obtained has a long and detailed story. Most people that used Amiga’s back in the day have gone on to be brilliant computer programmers, famous artists and musicians and what not. I am really kicking myself for not keeping better records of the history of the machines I get in, because most people have no time to talk about them when they bring them in to me.
I usually wear an Amiga shirt about once a week, and I get a lot of people asking about it-sort of remembering it, so being a collector, and letting people know it, you become an unofficial ambassador of the Amiga

Obsolete Gamer: Do you have a collecting story you’d like to share?

Glen: I have so many, but I guess the best I can share with you, is not really a collecting story, but the fact that a few of the original designers, engineers, and programmers, the people that were actually there, have contacted me and taken the time to share stories and corrections about my site. This may sound crazy, but a nobody like me, getting a phone call from these guys really kind of justifies what I am doing, because at times, I just feel like a mad man ranting and raving and collecting stuff that everyone moved on from 20 years ago.

Amiga 3000
Amiga 3000

Obsolete Gamer: Which Amiga is your favorite?

Glen: Oooh! Tough question. Owning EVERY Amiga model except an A4000 tower system at one time or another, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, my LEAST favorite is the A500. Die hards will scream at me for this, but as one of the highest selling models of the Amiga, by itself, it is a rather useless machine. You can pick up A500’s all day long for next to nothing. To make them useful, you need some sort of expansion. Be it a hard drive or an accelerator, and those or worth their weight in gold. The same can be argued for the A1000, but the A1000 looks at least like a real desktop and has cool features like the way you can side the keyboard under it. The least popular I can see in the community is the A2000, but the expansion cards are cheap and easy to get.
My personal favorite at this time, is my A3000 tower. The tower is huge and lots of room to work on inside. it weighs a ton though. One of the best things about it, is right out of the box, you can hook up a VGA monitor to it. No paying an arm and a leg for a VGA adapter.

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about your Amiga store?

Glen: Sure! The store came out of the need to clear some Amiga stuff out to the Community. I did not want to part take in the greed fest that eBay provides. My goal is to someday open a museum where everyone can come for free to use and play with the Amiga, and the store was a way to get rid the excess (who needs 9 A500’s). any money raised in sales and donations to the website go right back into the Amiga community. The PayPal Account is NOT linked to any bank account, and I use that money to buy more Amiga stuff that I need and don’t have, from other Amiga manufactures, distributors, re-sellers and hardware makers. You would be surprised, but there are tons of small time hardware makers, making new stuff to make the Amiga more modern. One of the biggest is Amigakit from the UK.

Obsolete Gamer: Did you have a favorite game on the Amiga?

Glen: I try a new game every week (I literally have thousands of floppy disks to go through), but “Lemmings” is still fun, and frustrating. My biggest problem is the controller. Most Amiga joysticks are (please forgive me) pure and utter crap! Trying to play “Golden Axe” with an Epyx 500XJ stick is horrible. The closest that I can find tolerable is the Amiga CD32 pad. I have yet to pick up a Sega Genesis pad, I hear those work well.

Amiga 4000 in box
Amiga 4000 in box

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about the Amiga RV Tour?

Glen: Not too much yet. I have been planning a RV trip across the USA and Canada for about 4 years now, to tour the Silicon Valley and visit all the major Computer HQ’s. But the technology to broadcast it live, steaming video feed over the net did not (and probably still doesn’t) exist yet. Coupled with the fact that nobody cares about a lone computer geek’s trek. It did not seem a feasible or sane thing to do.
But, with my love of the Amiga, and wanting to do something to raise awareness of the retro- computing hobby, the Idea evolved into one, that could not only promote the Amiga Community, Give me a chance to “save” Amiga’s and Commodores from the dump.


It also give the opportunity to promote (or create) a whole new untapped technology field. Soon, a lot of baby boomers and such will be retiring and want to hook up their RV, camper and such to the internet, so they will not have to rely on “hot spots” and such to keep up to date. This is a chance to for some company (like Cisco for example) to showcase a new technology that hooks the internet up “anywhere”, not relying on the cell phone companies (as this will be traveling both in the US and Canada) through Satellite or such. Some very smart Company could use this as a test. Also, Looking at the big picture and expanding on the above Idea, a computer company could create a “modular” computer system -let’s say in a shock proof case that could just “plug-In” to the RV. One would only need a TV or Monitor, keyboard and mouse actually on board and the camper could have a full computer system “on-board” and easily upgradeable. The possibilities from this trip are truly endless from a Corporate, or technology point of view.

I know from a recent weekend camping trip, that people were amazed when we had just hooked up an IPhone and networked a few laptops together, and had Wi-Fi out at the camp ground, and we were checking e-mail from fireside.

What I can tell you is we are at least a year away, and depending on actually outfitting the RV, it might be 2 years. The plan is to leave here (Edmonton, Alberta, and Canada) in October 2011 or October 2012 (to avoid the Canadian winter here). Besides the 4 or 5 Cameras on the RV, I will have a hand held, and I have already started making the documentary of the whole thing. Once the tour is complete, that Documentary will be put together and edited on an Amiga Video Toaster unit and the sales (about $10 each) will go to help recoup some of the cost of the Tour.

Obsolete Gamer: What would you like to see covered/talked about in an Amiga documentary?

Glen: I would love to see a “where are they now?” feature of all the people behind the Amiga. Dave Haynie and Bill Herd pop up every so often, but what about everyone else?

We’d like to thank Glen for the interview and if you have a story or website that profile the Amiga sent us an e-mail and let us know.

Maniac Mansion review

I rarely do it but Today is the day that I most definitely will! I’ll start the review from the very end of it – the score. Why? Well, reasons may be many, some more other less probable but what the truth is, is that I, as most mammals do, only tend to try to simplify my life. I consider vast majority of my readers at least to be mammals, so I suppose they like things plain and simple as well. That said, if I mention the name of the game and the score, it’s obvious that all the old bastards such as myself will nod their heads in understanding and move away to other, more recent or less well known game reviews and those who still don’t know it (are there any gamers who don’t know IT!?) may find the score high enough to lure them into a quick read. For those that’ll stay and waste five minutes going through my endless blah, blah, blah, here – Maniac Mansion gets 9.5 out of 10. Thank you! Goodnight!



Maniac Mansion was developed and released by LucasFilm Games LLC (now known simply as LucasArts) in 1987 on Commodore 64 and then in 1988 on all other major platforms of the time – Amiga, Apple II, Atari ST, DOS & NES/Famicom. And since all these represent different points in wide range of 8 & 16 bit machines, the game version varies slightly in terms of graphics & music depending on given machine’s capabilities. Have no fear though, over the top, B-class movie-like gameplay remains the same on all of these. And that’s the only thing that really matters here, right?! Right!

Maniac Mansion DOS EGA Title Screen
DOS EGA – Title Screen

From the technical point of view Maniac Mansion, often called MM, was a novelty of sorts. It introduced SCUMM (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion) engine that revolutionized Adventure games genre offering a complete point and click interface instead of typical at the time – text based interface. It utilized now well known Verb + Object operation, where verbs would be a set of actions that player could take upon various objects in the game World. It’s easily noticeable that games that followed for years after used or based their own engines on SCUMM as it not only simplified interaction with the game but made it more fluid, life-like, so that the player would not get distracted by mis-typing lengthy boring-ass commands or using wrong words in former kinds of interfaces. On top of all that MM was the first adventure game that presented the player with more than one character to control simultaneously. Player could switch between them whenever he/she felt like it or needed to.

Maniac Mansion Amiga Main Hall
AMIGA – This is how the Mansion’s Main Hall looks like. It holds quite a few neat secrets as well.

Taking Video Games technology available at the time MM did not stood out in any other area really – graphics were OK but not mind blowing and lacked loved and cherished by everyone Rivers of Blood(tm)… Well, there was *some* blood in the game but hardly enough to keep a gore-hungry, silly TV-shows raised teens at peace. And music? Apart from truly awesome opening theme and few sounds (not on all systems though) during gameplay were practically abundant. Looking at the back catalog of games I played over the years, I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s not the graphics or even sound and music that makes a good game…

Maniac Mansion NES Secret Lab
NES – Secret Lab ain’t that secret no more…

Maniac Mansion, from beginning to an end is all story. Story, that is simple, short but drives the player from the first minute when he choses three of the seven available characters (one fixed though) to the last second of gameplay, or till he fails. Yes, in MM one can fail and not complete the game just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time or doing something unnecessary… And why would one wander around doing odd things, digging holes in piles of shit instead of following the flow of the story? Because, lets say that you love cheesy B-class movies that are so bad that they actually are really good… Now, in this World MM would be an absolute king and queen of those movies, all rolled into one!!

Maniac Mansion c64 screenshot
C64 – This is where it all began 20 years before…

You play the role of Dave and two of his friends who have to save Dave’s girlfriend Sandy (even those names seem as if the were taken out of an under budget production made for 75 cents and a promise of mention in the final credits) from the hands of mad scientist – Dr Fred Edison – and his army (well, actually only few) of mutated Tentacles… Sounds cheap & cheesy? It should, the story is so simple that honestly I don’t see it ever getting any better. At least not in 1987, when I was no more no less than six years old and Maniac Mansion was like reading a book that I could actually take part in and it did not suck.

Maniac Mansion Apple II Library screenshot
Apple II – Library – The source of all knowledge… And funny smells…

I’m not gonna spoil this truly awesome game for you by telling you about all the inside jokes, puns and 80’s pop-culture references because I know you’ll enjoy it far more discovering everything by yourself. All I’ll mention is the game offers huge re-playability value due to the fact that all the secrets and gags cannot be found on one playthrough. For one, the characters player choose at the beginning all have unique personalities and respond to same situations differently and may even need to find different ways of solving similar problems. Also many, many things in this game lead to failure but failure through tears of laughter as authors did not kept the best stuff only for actions progressing the plot. And this is exactly what makes a great game – when failure is *also* an option worth taking. ^_^

Maniac Mansion Atari ST kitchen screenshot
Atari ST – There’s no kitchen without chainsaw and some mature cheese.

Maniac Mansion, even though it changed the face of Adventure games genre forever cannot be treated like pure adventure game only. I’d say it’s an interactive movie with adventure and arcade elements at heart. Some puzzles must be timed perfectly to complete, other require smart switching between chosen characters and using their positions and available actions at just the right order. And at another time you’re sitting there watching the game unveil its cinematic sequences just to add depth to the story. Please, pretty please, with a rotten turd covered cherry on top, notice that I used italics whilst mentioning cinematic sequences. Oh, darn, I’ve done it again…

Maniac Mansion c64 tentacle
C64 – Tentacle in its full 8-bit awesomeness…

Why only 9.5 out of 10, if the game clearly was the next Bible!? Or Bible 2.0, if you please (I expect a lot of hate mail now, he, he… ^_^)!? Well, it sure was fun playing it and I even recall one time when as a child I played it with two friends, each of us taking a role of another character… It’s not difficult to guess we did not fare far in the game… Maniac Mansion is just awfully difficult at times, presenting the player with numerous dead ends upon reaching which there is no choice but to reload the game. Or even many time & monkey-like agility based puzzles that one may repeat time after time until perfecting them, so that he/she could progress just that little further in the game. Honestly, sometimes when I play it it feels as if my head was split and someone pissed inside – there seems to be the brain there but my reflexes just ain’t what they’re supposed to be, short-cutted or something. Or maybe I’m just getting old, that’s all? That said, all the humor, re-playability and utterly awesome setting of Old Mansion that holds unknown secrets and a lonely kidnapped girl do make me wanna play it again… Today… Must fight the urge to play the darn gameMust not choose the system nowI am the master of my own mind & willAhhEhhBollocks! I’ll give this bad boy one more roll. ^_^

Fredrik Liljegren: Antic Entertainment

Antic Entertainment logo

Name: Fredrik Liljegren

Company: Antic Entertainment

Profession: CEO

Favorite Classic Game: Match Point (Commodore 64)

Quote: It was the first real tennis game (not just paddles and a moving blob!), many many 5 set matches that took hours was played on this game with my friends, and it was the first game that made think about making one myself.


The Obsolete Gamer Show 3

Alienware Breed logo
Alienware Breed logo

You ever watch a tv pilot and the set, the lighting and everything else just doesn’t seem network ready? Then next week comes and the show looks completely finished as if polished and shined to look better. Well that is what we are doing with The Obsolete Gamer Show.

For podcast number three I was finally able to get Ignacio/honorabili to join me and if that wasn’t cool enough we are now recording from a radio station. I always wanted to be a radio broadcaster and after the show I realized I still have a lot to learn.

However, it was a still a good show overall starting with Ignacio explaining how Obsolete gamer came to be and from there we moved on to discussing how our Gamer Profiles feature has grown leaps and bounds in just a few months. We covered our Facebook question that asked if anyone had ever said anything game related during sex which somehow led into a conversation about Lindsay Lohan’s gamer profile.

Ignacio informed us of the reason he has not posted much on Obsolete Gamer. He has had a good time playing games like, Global Agenda, Need for Speed World and Battleforge. We also had a take on young kids coming up playing games such as Pokemon.

After a time it was back to business and we were able to have a conversation with Yusney (Jay) Garay who created the Breed campaign for Alienware and his opening of a new creative studio in Miami.

All in all it was a good effort and we plan to bring you a weekly show with more interviews and less of us going off topic and on a tangent. For now have a listen, tell us what you think and stay tuned for more.

GOG sale: Complete Tex Murphy Collection

Tex Murphy: Mean Streets
Tex Murphy: Mean Streets

GOG sale: Complete Tex Murphy Collection

Are you a fan of detective science fiction adventure games? You’ll be happy to know that the Tex Murphy series of games are on sale 50% off this weekend from Good Old Games!

Get the collection here from our friends at Good Old Games.

The games feel a lot like Blade Runner.

The collection includes Mean Streets, Martians Memorandum, Under A Killing Moon, The Pandora Directive, and Tex Murphy: Overseer.

I played the living hell out of Mean Streets on c64…

The later games included a lot more video:

Check them out, fans of adventure and detective gaming!

About the Software Preservation Society (SPS)

Software Preservation Society logo
Software Preservation Society logo

About the Software Preservation Society (SPS)

SPS is a privately funded association of art collectors and computer enthusiasts striving for the preservation of computer art, namely computer games.

Art is an important cultural asset. Thousands of museums and archives all over the world preserve and restore pictures, books, movies and audio recordings and information in general for generations to come. To accomplish their assignment, national libraries are backed by law which, varying from country to country, forces production companies to deliver copies of publications, books, audio recordings and movies to the archives for long term preservation. It seems that as of today, nobody has ever thought or actively cared about the true, unmodified and verified preservation of computer games. Without any action taken, time will run out, very quickly.

Unlike games from the 1970s (delivered on solid state ROM-modules) and games from and after the mid-1990s (delivered on optical media like CD-ROMs and DVDs which are supposed to last for decades), computer games from the 1980s and early 1990s were delivered on magnetic media like tapes or floppy disks and are now at the brink of extinction.

From a preservation point of view, tapes and floppy disks are a nightmare for several reasons:

1. Tapes and floppy disks constantly degrade, in two ways. First is the physical degradation of the orientation of the metal particles which form the magnetic field and store the data. This process is slow, and given the fact that the data is encoded digitally, it may be too late to do anything when reading errors occur. Reading errors happen when it has become difficult to decide if a particular bit is 0 or 1. Preservation should occur before it becomes a gamble to get a good read.

2. Second is the chemical degradation. The metal particles bound to the plastic platter of a floppy disk or the surface of a tape can come off the surface. In fact, in most cases the bonding will simply fall apart after years of temperature changes, moisture and other issues of improper storage. Record companies struggle with this problem when remastering old recordings and have developed a process called baking where the original master tape is actually put in an oven to rebind the coating to the transport material. After baking, playback is a one try only process because the media will fall apart after passing the playback head of the machine. While similar to the original is sufficient for analogue material, even a single misinterpreted bit in the digital world means instant failure.

3. While no user can actually press industry standard vinyl recordings, CDs or DVDs at home (recordable media can be spotted by simply looking at it), tapes and floppies can actually be written and modified with consumer-grade equipment. It takes a lot of expertise to distinguish a professionally replicated medium from a home made copy. Even if a disk was produced by a commercial replicator, it does not necessarily mean that disk is still authentic and appropriate for preservation. Apart from a game possibly being copied over the original (as we have seen many times to “fix” a broken disk), many games themselves persist some kind of save state or high score, thus changing or erasing data that was available on the disk in the first place. As soon as the disk has been modified in any way, the authenticity of that copy is put into serious doubt.

SPS has successfully mastered these challenges and developed software and hardware technology to deal with the problems arising during the preservation process. Founded by computer expert and preservation pioneer István Fábián in 2001 as CAPS (the Classic Amiga Preservation Society), our highly specialized team has more than nine years of field experience. SPS members have not only been involved in playing games on the machines which are regarded retro today, but were programmers and designers also responsible for some of the games and programs available on these platforms.

While our original disk imaging tools (working on e.g. a standard Amiga 1200 with a compact flash adapter) are still good and easy to use, we are currently moving on to a completely self-contained floppy controller “KryoFlux” developed by SPS that works with any modern PC via an USB connection. This does not only speed up imaging of disks, but also enables physical media restoration of any title preserved so far.

Preservation at SPS usually is a two step process. Contributors from all over the world can help imaging disks with our unique technology. At SPS, our experts then use the Softpres Analyser to investigate the disk structure and create an IPF (Interchangeable Preservation Format) file. Scripting allows a flexible, even game-specific, way of representing data when read by a tool, or when rewritten to disk. Often rather different methods are required to represent various disk formats or copy protection methods when intended to be read by e.g. an emulator or to be written back when restoring an original disk. Due to the high quality of the preservation technology, IPFs have become the de facto standard demanded by Amiga users when looking for unmodified images true to the original.

While disks themselves are the problem that needs to be addressed quickly while they are still readable, SPS is also striving for complete archival of manuals and boxes in the form of physical products as well as digital scans. As of today, SPS has digitally archived about 3000 games produced for the Commodore Amiga, but now also supports other computer platforms like Atari ST, CPC, Spectrum and the Acorn Archimedes, to name just a few. Complete support for other platforms, like the C64 (which is a real challenge due to a second “computer” built straight into the floppy drive) is in the works, but disk imaging of such material already works today. It is only a question of manpower when the data imaged will be ready for presentation in dedicated IPF files. Again, this is a race against time to protect gems of yesterday from fading into oblivion.

For more information visit http://www.softpres.org/

Contact the Software Preservation Society:

Softpres.org Germany
Christian Bartsch
email: cb@softpres.org

Softpres.org UK
Kieron Wilkinson
email: kieron@softpres.org

***

If you want to see part of this article you can do so at SPS’s facebook page. If you want to see how their analyser software works view this facebook page. If you want to follow them through facebook click here to go to their fan page.

We must help in order to ensure that many games and programs we enjoyed in the past get preserved for generations in the future.

Glen McNamee: Obscure Internet

Obscure Internet logo
Obscure Internet logo

Name: C64Glen or Glen McNamee if I’m being formal.

Title: I do clever things for a monstrously large IT service company, as well as run Obscure Internet

Company: Obscure Internet

Favorite classic game: Wizball (Commodore 64)

Quote: It’s my favourite for a millions reasons. By the geniuses at Sensible software it’s a game I still play it regularly today, because the game play is fantastic, there is still is absolute no other game like it. It’s weirdest games ever, a stroke of mad genius, featuring screaming cats, hostile geometric shapes, and drops of paint firing bullets at you, flith raids, and a brilliant and original soundtrack.


The Commodore 64

Commodore 64 box
Commodore 64 box

The Commodore 64

Who can forget the awesome and sometimes just plain strange commercials of the 80’s and 90’s for computer and console products? Obsolete Gamer is searching the globe to find some of the classics from the Sears version of the Atari 2600 to the Commodore 64.

Commodore 64 Fact #16About 10,000 software titles were made for the C64.

Don’t forget to visit the Obsolete Gamer YouTube page for more videos.

Interview – Tomas Danko (VO Producer at DICE)

Tomas Danko at studio
Tomas Danko Studio

Interview – Tomas Danko (VO Producer at DICE)

What do you do for your job, where do you work, and what do you like the most about it?

My official title is VO Producer and I work in-house at Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment (DICE) in Stockholm where we do the Battlefield and Mirror’s Edge franchises. I am part of the audio team (which makes us all Sound Designers according to the EA matrix), and my primary focus is everything that has to do with dialogue (VO means Voice Over).

Among other things I work with writers and game designers to develop a script/story, cast actors, record and direct dialogue, post edit and design/sound effect all dialogue not to mention all the work needed to implement it in the game (i.e. scripting, logic triggers, mixing and more).

I like almost all of it, although working for a week trying to beat a 500,000 cell Excel sheet into submission is not the most fun I can think of, even though it has to be done at times. I figure I love my job because it makes me do totally different things every month or so. Some examples: One week I record and direct actors in a studio in London, or outdoors in Stockholm. The next week I edit wave files. Third week I design radio filter effects, and then I create Boolean logic tree structures to do automatic triggering of sounds in the game. It never gets boring.

What was your first computer and how did you get it?

My first computer was a Casio PB-100. I used it to program a lot of small games and demos with it, and my math teacher in school had her son (he studied computers at the University) provide me with code problems to solve. My second computer was the Commodore Vic 20, and I guess the rest is history since it steered me onto the glorious path of Commodore computing.

What was the first video game you played?

My memory eludes me, but probably Pong if you exclude all the games I programmed myself on the PB-100 and Vic 20.

What is your favorite video game platform of all time?

It has to be the Commodore 64, of course!

What’s your favorite video game?

There were too many games taking too much time out of my youth to pick just one. However, I spent an awful lot of time playing Paradroid, Pirates, Kickstart, Bruce Lee, Exploding Fist and Rally Speedway among other games.

What’s your favorite story of the computer or video game industry? (could be yours or somebody else’s)

It has to be the little bug in Kickstart on the Commodore 64 where the head of the motor cycle driver sometimes flickered one line or two into the upper border if you managed to jump high enough. Someone (1001 Crew, IIRC) took a deeper look into it and the rest is demo scene history (fully opening the borders).

What do you prefer, the present or past, considering the state of the computer scene?

The past, obviously, as far as the scene. It will never be the same again. The present and future when it comes to making computer games. It is a lot more fun nowadays as opposed to when I did games on the Sega Megadrive and Sony Playstation.

What’s the most influential video game you have ever played, that changed your life?

Tomas Danko playing tabletop games.
Tomas Danko Dice

Kung-Fu Master.

When you were younger, who were the people you considered to be legends in the computer and video game field?

There are too many to mention them all. I’ll just say Rob Hubbard and Martin Galway and call it a day.

What is your favorite old school gaming studio/developer?

It probably needs to be Andrew Braybrook (Hewson Consultants Ltd, Renegade Software).

What music inspired you to follow your career?

Jean-Michel Jarre besides all the ancient heroes making music on the Commodore 64. On the whole, I figure computer music had a more profound impression on my aural aesthetics than anything else.

What do you think the future for gaming will be?

It seems to take a couple of parrallel paths at the moment.
More platforms are moving towards as well as further developing movement based gaming such as the precursor Wii console.
A lot of gamers want to be entertained in a dumbed down way, halfway point and click and get through the experiences of a game without having to work too hard or think too much about it. Hence a lot of “shooting gallery” single player campaigns where everything runs in a linear and tubular fashion.

Finally, and this is the nice part as far as I’m concerned, some people are working hard to push the narrative aspects of gaming further in order to get on par with the Hollywood movie industry in regards to telling a story and giving the player an emotional experience as well. Merging the knowledge and methodologies created and perfected by Hollywood with the non-linear and interactive core mechanics found in games, to give the player a brand new experience in the future. This is where the frontier lies in gaming, as far as I’m concerned.

Do you prefer games that are personalized single player experience or games with a lot of interaction with other people?

I like both, to be honest. From a developer’s point of view, I find the single player campaign to be the most fun and challenging to work on. But some of the most rewarding gaming moments in recent time for me tend to be the in-house multi play tests when working on various Battlefield titles.

What projects are you involved with that you are willing to share with us? (not top secret ones!)

We just released Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and I did some VO and sound design on it. At the moment I’m working as VO Producer on the multi player component of Medal of Honor, other than that I’m working on another Battlefield franchise title and that’s all I can share at the moment.

What advice do you have for somebody that wants to be involved in the video game industry?

Start working with some friends on a small game and release it for free or work with making mods for Unreal engine games. Look into the iPhone platform and business model, and make your own career. Try and get an intern position at a studio.

***

I thank Tomas for taking the time to answer us and help us get to know better his gaming and computing past, as well as his contribution to the computer and gaming industry.

Another World

Another World (Out of this World)
Another World (Out of this World)

Another World review (Out of This World) by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“Masterful action-adventure storytelling that set the way for games like Abe’s Odyssey and others.”

Overall Score:
10 out of 10

Overview:

Another World (Out of This World in the US) is a CLASSIC video game that is a perfect blend of adventure and action. The game is a platformer and plays similar to the original Prince of Persia, except with guns and the later Abe’s Oddysee.

The story goes something along the lines that you were working at a science lab with a particle accelerator during a really bad thunderstorm and lightning hit when you were conducting an experiment and that made a dimensional shift happen that took you into… Another World! As soon as you get there, you are being surrounded by these crawling little creatures that if you allow them to get near you will paw at you with a little venom tooth and it’s pretty much game over. I won’t ruin any more little surprises. This game simply has to be played.

The game needs no dialogue as the ways the characters react was simply amazingly done. The gameplay is fast and fluid. The game has cut-scenes that are really quick and whose animations are really well done for 1991. They’re not like cut-scenes in today’s games for which you might as well just eat popcorn or something else while watching. Another World plays very fast.

The game is available on 3DO, Amiga, Apple IIGS, Atari ST, DOS, GBA, Mac OS, Mega-CD, Mega Drive, Mobile phone (Symbian OS), SNES, Windows, Windows Mobile.

The game is from 1991, made by Eric Chahi, with music by Jean-François Freitas.

Here is the intro to the game:

Fun Factor:

Games where everything kills you are a lot of fun for me. There’s parts in this game where you are running for your life and shooting like a real gun fight. It feels more like combat from a movie like Ronin rather than something like Rambo.

The first time one plays this game, the game will most likely blow you away. The fun of exploring a hostile environment plus being a fugitive makes for a great adrenaline rush, as well as having to THINK. Fun Factor gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:

Although I’ve played this game many, many times, it’s relatively easy to die. Pretty much everything will kill you in one attack, so you need to be careful at all times. Since the death system is realistic and it will depend on your knowledge of knowing how to react as well as your reflexes, the difficulty is perfect and real. Difficulty gets a score of 10 out of 10, since it’s realistic. I’d say this game is “NES hard”.

Since you can’t change the difficulty, Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 7 out of 10. To make the game easier would take away some of the excitement one gets playing the game. (This isn’t a modern noob-friendly game, so deal with it!)

Value:

You can pick up Another World at gog.com for $9.99. Their version gives you the game DRM-free, its manual, a bunch of hi-res wallpapers from it, its development diary, a technical handbook, as well as the soundtrack for the game. Considering how much of a classic this game is to me, $10 is a good value (the cost of going out to dinner) for a classic game that one will never forget. Value gets a score of 8 out of 10.

Replayability:

I’ve replayed this game about 30 times so far, although I know exactly what’s going to happen in every scene. I enjoy having the factor that I might not respond fast enough and still die. That makes the action more realistic offering a challenge not found in most of today’s games. Replayability gets a score of 8 out of 10.

Sound:

The sound is particularly important for this game. It makes up a lot of what make it great and what keep you feeling inmersed in the atmosphere of this game. My favorite sounds are the blasts from the energy gun and the cackle of the lightning and particle accelerator in the intro, as well as hearing enemies die. Sound gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Music:

Music is absent from most of the game except during the intro and ending. Although we are used to having most games playing music most of the time, in real life we don’t go around hearing a theme song in the background all the time, which makes the game have a suspenseful atmosphere. The intro music is tenseful. The ending theme nice and very soothing. Overall the music in this game gets a score of 7 out of 10.

Graphics:

For its time, the graphics and animations of Another World were simply amazing. I remember when I first played this game it had made me justify having upgraded to the Amiga for my gaming platform from my c64. Considering how well this game has always ran, how fluid everything looks, and how real the characters act, Graphics get and deserve a 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

This game almost never crashes, except maybe my Amiga version (mainly because my machine had overheating problems, my old Amiga 600). I give Stability/Reliability a score of 10 out of 10 for the gog.com version. I give the Amiga version a score of 8 out of 10 because of the rare crashes.

Controls:

The controls for this game are self-explanatory. The only thing that might get some getting used to, the first time you play, is how responsive the character is to running and shooting. One quickly learns to control the character perfectly. Controls get a 10 out of 10.

Performance:

This game has always run flawlessly and fast on all platforms. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

This is one of the games I’m most fond of from my Amiga gaming days. The story, atmosphere, and cinematics are unforgettable.

Longplay of the game:

The following video shows you somebody playing the game all the way through. It’s not a super long game but it’s still a classic game that holds a special place in my heart. This is the Amiga Longplay playthrough by cubex55 for Another World.

Leave your comments and feedback below, on our forums, or our social networking websites!

Interview – CoLD SToRAGE (Tim Wright)

CoLD SToRAGE (Tim Wright)
Cold Storage logo

We recently interviewed one of our favorite musicians CoLD SToRAGE (Tim Wright). The following is the interviewRead More

Dig Dug review

Dig Dug in-game
Dig Dug in-game shot

Dig Dug review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“Pop that monster!”

Overall Score:
9 out of 10

Overview:

Dig Dug consists of you being this blue man in a white suit that digs your way underground to kill monsters in tunnels. You do this by impaling them with an air pump that has like a tip like Scorpion’s weapon in Mortal Kombat (weird, I know but it’s cute!). You them pump the little monsters with enough air until they pop like a balloon. The game keeps progressing as you kill more monsters and there are none left in that level. Each level is progressively harder (especially when multiple enemies come at you at once).

You can get an extra man every 20000 points and you can pick up fruit in the middle of the stage when you kill enemies in a spectacular way, accelerating your 1UP rate.

The original game keeps going for 256 levels with the remake having about 400 levels.

The game is available on most Ataris, the Intellivision, Apple II, Commodore VIC 20 and c64, for PC, NES, gameboy, Wii, and the TI-99/4A. The remake is also available under Namco Classic Collection Volume 2 for Xbox, Gamecube, and the PS2.

Fun Factor:

I always thought it was a trip to fill up cute little monsters with air and watch their belly burst. If you’re braindead like me then you will love this kind of action. As the game will become much harder later, you will have to react instantly to the onslaught of monsters and have to adapt to using the terrain to your advantage and tricking the game’s A.I. by timing your attacks. You will sometimes have to run like a little bitch for your life and that can be fun to do especially in an old game! Fun Factor gets a score of 1o out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

Dig Dug is a challenging game. It’s from an era where if you wanted to get a high score you had to be a good gamer. Continues? Never heard of them. You put in a quarter and you got a set amount of lives. If you lost them all, you had to pay again to replay from the beginning. If you like your games easy then Dig Dug is not a game for you. If you like a game where the A.I. will eventually come at you from every direction, really fast then this is your game. You do get one more life though every 20000 points.

The first levels are easy and the game constantly keeps acccelerating in diffuculty. There’s no way to alter that but the game is challenging enough as it is. Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Value:

Since this game is so old now, most people will probably play the emulated (usually MAME) version which you can get for free.

The PS2 Namco Classic Collection version is now out of print and not available online. You can track it down either by calling your local game stores or finding it through ebay.

The Wii version you can probably get online from their store for probably a few dollars.

Overall, since you can either play this game for free or for a few dollars for the PS2 or Wii version, Value gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Replayability:

Most classic arcade games are highly addictive/replayable, unless you find them too hard/frustrating for you. You can pretty much set your own goal as you what you want your experienced with this game to be, whether to get to whatever number of level or whatever your high score will be.

Myself, I find this game fun and I often wonder to what level I can get to the next time I play. Considering I’ve played this game thousands of times since the 80s and I still play it, the game is a classic and very replayable. I give replayability a score of 9 out of 10.

Sound:

The sounds mainly consist of hearing the dragon roar (whistle) and your pump that fills up the cute monsters and pops the living hell out of them. For an old game the sounds are really well done and I think Sound deserves a score of 1o out of 10.

Music:

The music is so simple but it’s so catchy. The music is interactive in the sense that the little jingle will only play whenever your guy is walking. Mega64 makes fun of that fact and made a video where they go around harrassing people with it! Here is a video showing that:

It’s catchy and it keeps you playing this hectic little game. For a few simple notes, it’s a classic. Overall the game has like 4 little melodies but the main melody is the one that you will hear the most. Music gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Graphics:

The graphics look pretty cute for this old game and they are actually great. It’s fun watching the monsters blow up like a balloon and then POP! Graphics get a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

This game actually has 2 bugs.

If you get to the end of the game, the game has a kill screen where you are basically stuck because the game will not progress any further. This happens when you get to the last level of the game (level 256) and beat it.

The other bug happens if you drop a rock on an enemy while you are pumping it with air and snuff it. It basically makes all enemies disappear making the level unbeatable but the work around is to trigger another rock to fall.

Other than those two bugs, mainly the rock one (because most people will NOT get to the last level), the game is rock solid. Stability/Reliability get a score of 8 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are simple. Up is up and so forth, and the fire button always triggers the harpoon gun/pump which lets you kill enemies. Other than that you walk into the ground to tunnel and you make rocks fall by leaving a tunnel under it (to try to trick a monster into getting crushed). Controls get a score of 10 out of 10.

Performance:

The game runs flawless whether you play it on an arcade machine, emulation (MAME, etc), or on a console remake of it. If only all games could run as well as old games! Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

This is one of the first games where I was impressed by an arcade game, specifically Namco and Atari. I remember seeing this around the same time I first played Ms. Pacman, another arcade favorite of mine. I’ve played Dig Dug over 1000 times, literally. It’s not as popular as the Pacman games but among the arcade community, it’s always a classic.

If you’ve never played Dig Dug, you are missing out on a major arcade game that is a corner stone for arcade gaming history. Go play it and stop reading this.

Aztec Challenge (c64) review

Aztec Challenge Box
Aztec Challenge Box

Aztec Challenge (c64) review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“Apocalypto, the game”

 

 

Overall Score:

8 out of 10

 

Overview:

You take the role as an Aztec going through the worst trials possible (everything you touch kills you instantly), trying to survive to become the new ruler of the Aztecs. There are different stages composing of different run, jump, duck, cover, timing puzzles and reaction tests. The game mainly is a reflex game of reacting correctly to the environment.

You can play the game single player or two player, alternating in between players to give you a bit of rest from the tension this game gives you. Everything kills you in one hit so you will find yourself grabbing your head saying “I can’t believe that shit just happened!”

The music for the game is interactive (one of the first games that had this, other than Forbidden Forest, also by Paul Norman). Look below for an extensive look at the music.

When I saw in the movie Apocalypto the scene where they are in the Aztec capital and they are throwing spears at the main characters, I immediately though of Aztec Challenge! (check out that great movie if you haven’t already done so)

The original game came out on Atari, later on the c64 (this review), on to an Amiga port, and there is a PC remake as well.

 

 

Fun Factor:

Everything kills you in this game, so you need to pay attention at all times. Tension is always existent and then entire game feels like a gauntlet.

This is a video showing a full playthrough of all the stages in the c64 version:

I always find the unforgiving kill factor a lot of fun, every time I play this game. This game has a Fun Factor of 9 out of 10.

 

 

Difficulty Versatility:

The game keeps getting harder after you beat it each time. All the stages recycles per playthrough and that’s where the challenge lies for me. Some stages are really easy and others are extremely hard. You can’t set the difficulty from the start but the game is hard enough for most people. In the later playthroughs the game is simple ridiculously hard. Difficulty Versatility gets a 5 out of 10 because you’re forced to start out on “easy”.

 

 

Value:

Since the game came out so long ago, it’s mainly available through emulation, therefore free. The full game can be downloaded here: http://www.c64.com/games/download.php?id=338

Just fire up your favorite c64 emulator and load the D64 file.

If you’re a c64 collector, it’s very likely you already have this game in your software collection. Value gets a score of 10 out of 10.

 

 

Replayability:

The game gets repetitive but considerably harder the longer you replay it in one sitting. If you like a challenge then the game is worth replaying often. Others might find themselves bored. Replayability gets a 6 out of 10.

 

 

Sound:

The sound effects are pretty average. Some stages have no sound effects, with the only noise you hear being the interactive music in the background. The best sound in the game is in the swimming stage when you die, the noise of the piranhas eating you. Because of the sparse lack of sound effects in most stages, Sound gets a score of 4 out of 10.

 

 

Music:

The music is what everybody always remembers from this game. It sounds like tribal techno and it changes depending on how well you are progressing in a stage. It also starts out with a thump thump which reminds me of a heart beat and a little bit of the beginning part of Queen – Flash Gordon.

The music for Aztec Challenge is so great that it’s often remixed by the c64 remix scene. Here is one of my favorite clips from the Press Play On Tape metal version:

Here is another video with a more techno version:

As you can hear, the music for this game is pretty epic and one of the most remembered songs for the c64. Music gets a 10 out of 10.

 

 

Graphics:

The Graphics are rather simple but this is an early c64 game. For its time the graphics were pretty impressive vs other c64 games. I like the variety of different environments that they included for the game, although some of the stages are rather spartan. The most impressive graphically are the first stage, with you running to the pyramid, and the last one where you run across a broken bridge in between two mountains. I give Graphics an 8 out of 10.

 

 

Stability/Reliability:

C64’s don’t crash unless running poorly cracked games. I’ve never seen a bad copy of Aztec Challenge. There are also no bugs or parts in the game where you can’t continue. Stability/Reliability get a 10 out of 10.

 

 

Controls:

Basic and obvious joystick controls. The fire button usually either makes you jump for some of the stages. Some stages have different kinds of jumps that vary in height/length. These are done by pushing the joystick different directions to vary the jump. In the traps stage, you press the fire button to stop running and up to jump. In the piranha stage, you press the fire button to dive for a few seconds, to prevent being eaten alive. Controls get a 7 out of 10 because the game doesn’t explain in game what you need to do and you might die the first time playing.

 

 

Performance:

There is no lag on the original c64 nor the emulators on any modern PC. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

 

 

My history with this game:

This is a game from my childhood that has always blown my mind. I’ve probably played over 120 hours of this game as a child, maybe more. This is the game my cousins, friends, and I would fire up when somebody used to claim c64 games were easy.

I’ve played it many times, when I was younger, simply to hear the music. It’s not the most relaxing game but I do enjoy a good challenge so sometimes I want to fire it up to put my nerves other the edge. Give it a go and see how far you can go before getting the game over screen.

 

Free Stuff – Angry Video Game Nerd

Free Stuff – Angry Video Game Nerd

Angry Video Game Nerd
Angry Video Game Nerd

If you played any crappy game in the past and you were obsessed with it, you will love the comedy gold put out by our friend Angry Video Game Nerd (James Rolfe). Here is the link to his main website http://www.cinemassacre.com/new/?page_id=13 where you can check out his video game rants and also his videos on movies and cinema in general, old forgotten board games, and other things he finds interesting.

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