World 1-1 Review

World 1-1 Review

World 1-1 is an amazing video game history documentary movie created by the team made up of Jeanette Garcia and Daryl Rodriguez, two awesome, young but thorough movie makers from Miami. Although World 1-1 automatically might make you think of the world start screen from Super Mario Bros., the film is actually about what I call the rise and fall of the original Atari (I would have probably called the film The Rise and Fall of Atari). The film covers the birth of video games from their origins in scientific labs, onto games being played on what at the time were time-shared supercomputers, to the creation of arcade video game machines, and onto the rise and fall of early video game consoles (video gaming at home).

world 1-1 movie poster

To say the film is thorough would be an understatement although the movie mainly focuses on arcade and console game development. Although I love this film a lot, I can criticize that it barely touches on what was going on in the home computer field, which although Nintendo saved the console gaming market (probably what World 1-2 will be about), home computers also saved video games and people’s interest in electronics and computers with great machines such as the Commodore 64, Atari computers, and later Commodore Amiga (much before IBM clones and DOS become popular).

Getting back to what makes World 1-1 so great, the film has many great interviews with not just most of the important people that worked in Atari and Activision but also many interviews by people who work in Microsoft (and other important companies) and many famous people in the video game world such as arcade specialists and many of what I consider to be experts in video game history. This movie is like entering a time machine and seeing what it was actually like to have worked at Atari. There are many great stories of crazy things that would happen or also recollections describing how many breakthroughs came about. Some of the interviews also talk about the important business decisions that took place both from the managerial perspective and how the engineers and the rest of the employees responded to such decisions. Just like everything in life all things must come to an end and the movie deals with the death of the original Atari corporation in a very classy and dignified manner.

I highly recommend you view the movie as part of what I call some of the best movies and shows in video game, internet, hacker, and computer history such as: Pirates of Silicon Valley, Micro Men, Middle Men, The King of Kong, The Social Network, TRON, Takedown, Silicon Valley, and Halt And Catch Fire. World 1-1 and those shows and movies are what I call to be essential to watch if you a true interest in video game history. Chances are that if you’re reading this you already have such an interest.

You can buy the movie directly from the creators’ website or you can even get it over at Steam.

If I have to give the movie a numerical score I would say it’s a 9.5 out of 10. Stop reading this and go watch it NOW! ūüôā

Here is an interview we did with the creators from when they were trying to get the funding for the film:

Here is a further interview we did after it got funded. It talks more about the making of the film:

The Amiga CD32

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

What if? The Amiga CD32

I love What if? scenarios. What could have been if things hadn’t gone a bit pear-shaped for a certain company. This particular scenario though surrounds the question, What if the Amiga CD32 had been a success… would we be seeing an Amiga console today? Equal to the PS3 or X-Box?

There’s plenty of debate on the interweb, schools of thought on the future of Commodore and Amiga. I’ve been dipping in and out of some forums recently and there is certainly a lot of passion surrounding this subject. However, my own personal opinion doesn’t seem to fit in with these particular debates. I’ve always dreamt of an Amiga console, a continuation of the CD32, with Commodore backed and developed hardware, chipsets and designs with the same Amiga enthusiasm for gaming, graphics and entertainment.

amiga-cd32

I look all bleary eyed as I imagine the release of the¬†‚ÄėCommodore Amiga *insert awesome console name here*‚Äô, the anticipation as to the specs of this new machine, the controllers, the online game play‚Ķ I‚Äôve pretty much invented this fantasy console already, it has everything that made the¬†Amiga¬†and its successors the gaming giants they were (and still are in my opinion).

I’ve imagined the specs, it rivals the PS3 and X-Box for graphics and online gaming, it has an entertainment centre for playing Blu-ray and downloadable movies, it has the retro back catalogue of Amiga games and software, all in a glorious online archive of classics from the past… sorry, drifted off for a bit there.

In short, I think an Amiga console would have easily fitted in amongst the latest gaming platforms, having an incredible legacy behind it and a gaming archive for it to include in its package, sitting alongside any of the latest games. Somehow (don’t ask me how) this latest Amiga console would also allow people to develop their own Amiga projects, the software played just as big a part in the history of Commodore and Amiga as the games did and it would be awesome to see that included, and of course backed by a genuine and passionate Commodore company.

amiga cd32_back

Now, lets not forget this is a What if? scenario, I like to dream of what could have been, and of course in an ideal world this is where I would have liked the direction of the company to have gone. The reality of course was a lot more complicated and depressing, and currently, at least for the brand we all know and love, it’s not looking much better.

Check out another blog post on the CD32 over at Last of Commodore: Amiga CD32, it’s a lot more informative and a lot less fantasy (see above). Thanks for indulging my imagination, until my dreams come true, I’ll be playing on my Amiga 500.

Thanks to Gamester81 for the video review.

Knights of the Sky

[youtube id=”A-cJmj-64J4″ width=”633″ height=”356″]

The great thing about Knights of the Sky was that you felt completely vulnerable throughout every mission ‚Äď even just a few direct hits with a machine gun could send you spiralling to a fiery death, which led to some tense dogfights. ~Lewis Packwood

Knights of the Sky

Format: Amiga Genre: Flight Simulator Released: 1991 Developer:MicroProse

I was playing a demo of¬†Tom Clancy‚Äôs H.A.W.X.¬†the other day. The graphics were superb ‚Äď the representation of Rio de Janeiro was almost photo-realistic ‚Äď but the game itself was deathly dull. Like pretty much all modern flight sims, it basically amounts to lining up your sights over some plane or tank that‚Äôs so far away you can‚Äôt actually see it, waiting for a lock on, then pressing the fire button. *Yawn*

knights_of_the_sky

 

Unfortunately, it seems that as real-life planes rely more and more on flight computers to navigate and select targets, the computer games based on them become less and less enjoyable. Perhaps by the time we reach Tom Clancy‚Äôs H.A.W.X. 10 you won‚Äôt even need to do anything ‚Äď you could just step outside for a cigarette and let the game play itself.

Thank heavens then for Knights of the Sky, a blesséd antidote to all this modern fly-by-wire, fire-and-forget, head-up-display, ensure-contents-are-piping-hot nonsense. Here’s a simulation where top speeds rarely climb into triple figures, where fire and forget equates to lobbing a hand grenade out of the cockpit and hoping for the best, and where your head-up display mostly consists of a petrol gauge and a compass. Welcome to World War 1.

knights_of_the_sky

 

The great thing about Knights of the Sky was that you felt completely vulnerable throughout every mission ‚Äď even just a few direct hits with a machine gun could send you spiralling to a fiery death, which led to some tense dogfights. Pretty much every mission I attempted would end with me coaxing a critically damaged plane back to my home base after a few too many close encounters with the enemy. The wings would be practically falling off, the petrol gauge would be virtually on empty, and I‚Äôd be wrestling with the joystick to just keep the plane going in a straight line‚Ķ Most of the time I didn‚Äôt make it, but on the rare occasions where I somehow managed to land my charred mass of wood and canvas back on friendly soil, I‚Äôd be practically dancing round the room in excitement. And, to my knowledge, there are very few flight sims that can inspire dancing.

knights_of_the_sky

 

By far the best aspect of this game was the two player mode. There were surprisingly few Amiga games that you could play over a link cable, but these games were among my favourites, and most of them are (or will be) on this list (I‚Äôve already covered one of them ‚ÄstStunt Car Racer).

Knights of the Sky just came alive in two player mode. As much fun as it was having my plane shot to pieces by nameless Germans, it couldn’t even come close to the sheer thrill of having my plane shot to pieces by my Amiga-500-owning mate who lived round the corner. As I said earlier, dogfights were tense in Knights of the Sky, but they were a good deal tenser when playing against a friend, especially if he unplugged your joystick in the middle of a loop-the-loop (thankfully, the computerised Germans never learned that little trick).

knights_of_the_sky

 

Actually shooting down your opponent‚Äôs plane was surprisingly hard ‚Äď the view from your cockpit was incredibly restrictive (most of your view was taken up by instruments and a bloody great big wing in front), so it was really difficult to keep the other plane within your sights. Also, because the planes were so slow, actually turning round to try and get on the tail of your opponent was a constant struggle. And any slightly more advanced manoeuvres were a risky business ‚Äď the planes could only fly at low altitude, so if you went into a steep dive there was a good chance you‚Äôd end up ploughing into the deck, and climbing steeply would generally cause your plane to stall. In fact, participating in a dogfight was kind of like watching two valium-addled geriatrics wrestling each other for the last Werther‚Äôs Original. In slow motion.

knights_of_the_sky

However, the very fact that the planes were so completely rubbish was what made Knights of the Sky so exciting. Because it was so much of a struggle to fly your plane ‚Äď and even to find, let alone shoot at, your opponent ‚Äď winning a dogfight created a palpable sense of achievement. Especially if you could do it without unplugging your opponent‚Äôs joystick.

 

Of course, the game is not without its faults. The graphics, for example, could be politely described as ‚Äėuninspiring‚Äô, and they look positively Stone Age by today‚Äôs standards. Also, the single player campaign could become a little dull after a while, and there wasn‚Äôt really enough variety to hold your interest for extended periods of time.

But for the two player mode alone, Knights of the Sky more than deserves to be on this list, if only because it proves that flights sims can be exciting after all.

Stunt Car Racer

[youtube id=”Kn32IgQGrOQ” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Stunt Car Racer

Format: Amiga Genre: Racing Released: 1989 Developer: MicroStyle

 

Bizarrely, the inaugural post on this blog is for a racing game. Bizarre because generally I don’t actually like racing games that much; yet, when I think about it, the two or three that I’ve really enjoyed (Ridge Racer, Burnout 3, Gran Turismo) probably rank up there as some of my favourite game experiences, and Stunt Car Racer certainly deserves a special mention.

Most racing games before the mid-nineties were pretty rubbish. It was only with the 3D revolution that racing games really reached their full potential ‚Äď before that it was all stripey grey race tracks and simplistic leftright leftright holddownthebutton gameplay (try playing a game like Lotus Challenge now and I guarantee the nostalgia won‚Äôt last beyond a couple of pixellated crash barriers). However, Stunt Car Racer WAS in 3D at a time when perhaps only a handful of games were, and what‚Äôs more it used the 3D space in a way that few games have, before or since.

stunt_car_racer

The raison d‚Äôetre of Stunt Car Racer is the tracks ‚Äď glorious, insane, rollercoaster-like tracks that leave you gripping the joystick for dear life as you hurtle through the air after burning up impossible ramps, then gritting your teeth as you plummet back down, engine still racing, the screen cartwheeling as you miss the track by inches and smash into the dirt below with a bone-shattering crunch. At a time when racing meant dodging in and out of identical 2D cars, Stunt Car Racer did vertical ‚Äď and how. There was even a loop-the-loop‚Ķ

stunt_car_racer

The key thing about all this vertical fun was the ever-present sense of danger ‚Äď there were no barriers to any of the tracks, so you always felt that just one small slip of the wrist could send you hurtling into the abyss, costing you valuable time as your stricken vehicle is winched back onto the track and, more importantly, causing potentially race-ending damage to your car. Above all, it was the intense adrenalin rush this caused that is my stand-out memory of the game; that and the excellent two player mode (only available over a link cable, but more than worth the considerable hassle of stringing together several wires and tellies).

I sold my Amiga recently (sacrilege I know), but I booted up Stunt Car for one last go before I carted the whole lot off to Mr Ebay. It’s lost none of it’s charm: sure, the graphics are basic (even for the time) and there’s only one other car on the track at any one time (believe it or not, that blocky red thing in the screenshot is a car), but it still retains an impressive sense of speed and danger as you hurtle round those suicide bends.

The creator of the game, Geoff Crammond (dubbed ‚ÄėSir‚Äô by Amiga Power), later went on to create the seminal Formula One Grand Prix series on the Amiga, but I‚Äôll always remember him for this classic game. Nice one Sir Geoff.

Happy Monster

[youtube id=”rwB3jgwZH2Q” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Happy Monster

Platform games as a genre have been around over thirty years now and this kind – where each stage is only one screen in size – was how the genre began before fancy stuff like scrolling was introduced. That’s a lot of time to be trying to come up with new ideas. There is, after all, only so much you can do with one 2D screen filled with platforms. Impressively though, most of them manage to add at least¬†something¬†to the genre, or sub-genre as it now is. This effort by German fellow, Harold M√ľller, which appeared pretty late in the Amiga’s life, does not. Apparently, this is typical of Mr. M√ľller whose games often feature, shall we say, ‘borrowed’ elements or ideas. Clearly, if true, that makes him either lazy or just lacking in creative abilities but does that mean his games aren’t any good? I don’t know yet so let’s find out!

Happy Monster

Happy Monster, if its title is to be believed, is a game that features at least one happy monster. I don’t know why they’re so happy but it could be because of all the booty they have lying around the place. Many lush, ripe fruits, tasty snacks and desserts, and even gemstones, can be found in abundance across the twenty stages that make up the game. You play the part of a small, bearded fellow (who reminds me of Silver Neelsen from F-Zero X) whose job it is to collect (probably steal) each of these items, although defeating (probably murdering) the monsters that duly petrol their stash is optional. Successfully clearing a screen of all that inhabits it opens the exit from where you’ll begin again until all twenty screens have been conquered. Items to help him do this include 1ups and speed-ups, which are among the other items, but other than that, you’re on your own.
Happy Monster

Actually, now that I think about it, this must be how Mr. Neelsen was able to fund his F-Zero exploits. Oh well, he’s no worse than Zoda I suppose. Whether the F-Zero tournaments are tainted or not, our hero is gifted with only the basic platforming actions here. He can drop down through platforms, and he can fall an unlimited distance without harm, but contact from any monsters causes instant death. By means of offensive abilities, he can shoot fireballs from his torso to take out the monsters, of which there are several colours which determines their speed and how many hits they take to defeat, but he can only jump a short height. This presents the game’s only major problem – one or two stages have parts that you can fall into but can’t jump high enough to get out of. This basically means the stages in question fall victim to trial-and-error gameplay, particularly since there’s no ‘suicide’ button allowing you to start the stage again.
Happy Monster

As you can probably already tell from the screenshots, aside from the arrangements of platforms and¬†collectibles¬† the stages that make up Happy Monster don’t differ a huge amount from one another. The same tiled background adorns each stage, albeit in alternating¬†colors, the enemies are all copies of Spud from Superfrog, although again in different¬†colors¬† and the player’s character is tiny, even smaller than the monsters in fact, and animated very basically. The sprites and items are quite well-defined but that’s about the only positive as far as the aesthetics are concerned. The sound only consists of about three effects, one of them rather irritating, and no music at all. Well, except for a rather unassuming title-screen jingle but it’s not really what I’ve come to expect from Amiga games, whether made by big multi-million pound corporations or by a guy in his bedroom!
Happy Monster

Indeed, from a technical point of view, Happy Monster is far from the pinnacle of Amiga gaming and it’s also one of the least original games of this type I’ve played. I suppose I shouldn’t be too¬†judgmental¬†though, Mr. M√ľller has achieved a lot more than I ever could! It may at first seem like a sightly tough and unfair game, but you’ll soon discover that it’s actually too easy – most stages can be beaten on the first try with no loss of life and even the few trickier ones only require a couple of tries at most before they are overcome, especially since stages are reset when you do lose a life. There’s no time-limit so you can spend as long as you want messing around. The only thing you have to be really careful of is to not fall into an inescapable part of a stage as I did a few times. This is my only real issue with the game as it can completely ruin an otherwise enjoyable session. Grrrr!
Happy Monster

Apart from that, though, despite its technical inadequacies and lack or anything remotely fresh or creative, it’s actually pretty good fun, but it’s still really hard to recommend it as could have so easily been much better. There are only twenty stages and they lasted me around an hour. With¬†practice¬† I finished the game in fifteen minutes without losing a life. Even with such a short game, some later stages re-use sections from older stages and a couple are even repeated as a whole. There are also only five different¬†colors¬†of otherwise identical-looking enemies and just the one power-up in the entire game. There’s not even an ending – it just loops back to the start! It seems to me that Happy Monster is very much like a free shareware game that a fan made to test his programming abilities or something like that, but I’m pretty sure it was a full commercial release, and that means it’s average at best. Fundamentally, it’s an enjoyable enough game but with more enemies, more stages, and more varied stages, it would still be very unoriginal but would be so much better than it is now.

RKS Score: 5/10

 

Onslaught

Onslaught (1989)

Onslaught - gameplay screenshot

By: Hewson Consultants Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: Commodore Amiga 
Also Available For: MegaDrive, Atari ST, PC
Download For: Xbox Live Arcade, iOS

Onslaught

The years of the Atari ST and Amiga were conflicting ones for me. For the first half of their tenure, my main system of choice was my trusty Speccy. As great as Sir Clive’s marvel was, it couldn’t hold a candle to 16-bit machines, technically. For the second half of their tenure, I was the proud owner of the all-powerful MegaDrive console where I found myself in the opposite situation. Whichever side of the fence I found myself on though, I always kept an interested eye on releases for the ST and Amiga and one that always intrigued me was Onslaught. It was available on both machines and looked suitably impressive for either. It wasn’t long, however, until I learnt a valuable lesson – appearances can be deceptive…
Onslaught - gameplay screenshot

These are basically boss fights but feature a floating, four-armed head! You control a hand that can move around the edge of the screen and fire magic stars, and this you must do until the strange creature is no more. Victory means you’ve won the territory and then it’s on to the next. The temple stages are the same as mind duels and there are also plagues, crusades, and rebellions to contend with. These occur at random intervals and make the going even tougher, particularly the latter which costs you a previously won territory. During the battle sections, it’s also important not to let too many enemies past you unscathed as if enough of them make it, they can grab your banner too!Set a good few hundreds of years ago, Onslaught is the tale of many warring kingdoms. At the start of the game you’ll see a map screen consisting of a 16×16 grid of tiny squares which presumably represents a sizeable portion of the world of Gangore. Each red square is a kingdom and each red dot with a light ring around it is a temple. You start the game as a random warrior, all known as ‘Fanatics’, and at a random point on the map, although usually towards the edge somewhere. From here you can select any kingdom or temple within one grid square of your position. The former are multi-tiered, side-scrolling platform/combat sections which come in three parts. First you have to battle your way from left to right until the end where the enemies banner is located, then it’s on to a ‘siege’ section which is more or less the same except the enemy banner is at the top of a castle, and then it’s on to a ‘mind duel’ which are rather stranger.
Onslaught - gameplay screenshot

Each of the kingdoms on the map has a status panel type thing that can be viewed prior to attacking them. This includes the popularity of the warlord who’s currently in charge (which affects the strength of the enemies), population (number of enemies), and warband (types of enemies). The last one is of particular note as the enemies can take several forms, some more dangerous than others. Footmen attack with conventional medieval style weapons, wizards cast spells, and spearmen are fairly self-explanatory. There are also soldiers with cannons and other more powerful weapons aimed in your direction and landmines dotted around which should be avoided at all costs. The last kind of enemy is the most annoying.
Onslaught - gameplay screenshot

They are the riders. Their vehicles range from boars, horses, or even magic carpets, and they travel across the screen in either direction. If your warrior is touched by any enemy it will push him backwards a little but this effect is considerably increased by the riders. The armaments used by your ‘fanatic’ can sometimes lesson the likelihood of this happening though. You’ll starts the game with a mace. This is obviously very short-range and not terribly powerful so it’s fortunate that some defeated enemies will leave behind shield icons. These are new weapons which include crossbows, bombs, and homing shots. They all have a limited lifespan but are invaluable for making progress, as are the magic scrolls which can be collected from the same source which give you abilities ranging from screen-clearing smart-bombs to freezing the enemies.
Onslaught - gameplay screenshot

The first thing you’ll notice when you load Onslaught is the splendid piece of music and the impressive loading screen, above. These both make a great first impression and the in-game graphics and music, while varying little, are still of a high standard. The battle stages are quite cluttered and the colours a bit garish but the detail and animation of the sprites is great. Overall it’s very atmospheric though, especially the fantastic music. However, as is typical of Amiga games the music comes at the cost of any sound effects, although you can turn the music off on the options screen if desired. Something else you can do here is raise the difficulty but I definitely wouldn’t recommend doing that – if taking over a load of kingdoms single-handedly sounds tough, that’s because it is!
Onslaught - gameplay screenshot

Your warrior may have a reasonable amount of energy but it’ll soon get worn down – most of the battle stages are fairly short but are so full of enemies that most of them will take a while to get through. The enemies re-spawn too and they really do throw everything at you including arrows, meat-cleavers, cannonballs, and land-mines to name a few (although it’s not surprising I suppose since I’m pretty sure you play the part of the bad guy, attacking and ransacking innocent villages!). Some stages can be so overwhelming that it’s difficult to even make any headway, particularly stages populated by riders. This kind of thing just compounds the already¬†highly¬†challenging nature of the gameplay and sadly makes playing Onslaught a very frustrating experience. All this and you get just the one life and no continues!
Onslaught - gameplay screenshot

The screenshots and description probably make Onslaught seem like a really interesting game, I’ll certainly agree there. There’s a lot to do and the mixture of combat and strategy seems like it’s been well thought through, so I really wanted to like it, but after giving it numerous chances to impress me, the result is always the same. Its design seems very disorganised and chaotic but most of the problems are caused by the very high difficulty. I don’t know how insanely gifted some of you might be but I often don’t even finish the first stage nevermind rule over the whole land of Gangore! It¬†is¬†quite addictive but I can’t imagine I’ll make it too far into the game – I certainly haven’t yet! It’s hard to know what to make of it really. There’s lots of great ideas and potential but sadly it’s just been executed in a frustratingly unsatisfactory and… well, frustrating way. Time for a remake?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mvypl68aC-g[/youtube]

RKS Score: 5/10

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!

Pirates of Silicon Valley movie review

Pirates of Silicon Valley movie review

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates

If you care at all about computers or technology or business or the future, this is a movie you MUST watch. The movie goes hand in hand with other amazing technology business movies such as Micromen and The Social Network. This movie shows you how the megacorps we know as Microsoft and Apple started, according to writer and director Martyn Burke. It was also based on the book “Fire in the Valley” written by Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine. I’m not saying it’s exactly what happened, but it’s close enough. I used to obsess as a kid wanting to know the exact details of the true history of something but I’m not a time traveler so such details no longer bother me.

It’s easy to watch the movie as they have multiple copies of it on youtube.

The movie shows two camps: Apple with its technology loving engineers and hippie turned businessman turned devil and Microsoft with its college nerds who love to play poker and jocks turned executive geniuses. You get to see Steve Jobs go from this rebel non-conformist into him signing over his soul to the devil to then becoming the devil himself. Gates is just ambitious from the start and his ambition never wanes.

Like all pioneers, nobody at their time took them serious or understood what they were trying to do. They were creating a revolution in technology, in the way we live our lives (especially if you’re a computer person like me). Think about where we would be without the personal computer. Even the things that came after, like cell phones, smart phones, laptops, mp3 players, the internet, social media… none of that would be possible without the work of engineers and businessmen such as these. I’m not saying they were the definite cause for all this but they were major contributors. We must also accredit other people such as all the fine people at Altair, Commodore, Atari, Nintendo, IBM, Sega, Sinclair, Acorn, and more.

Back to the movie… The movie shows both sides eventually doing whatever it needs to get ahead. The movie is not called The Super Nice Nerds of Silicon Valley, it’s The Pirates. Yes, they WILL cut your throat if you are in their way to success. Now, I’m not saying they’re as evil as wall street or the banks that just robbed the world, but they’re no saints!

A recurring theme in the movie is to get people to want what they don’t really need necessarily, which you might not even have yet but you want them to want it, creating demand (and getting the money to get it made).

One of the most important scenes is at the 1977 tech show when Gates tries to talk to Jobs, explaining what they were doing at Microsoft, only to get blown off by him, which in turn starts part of their war against each other.

The best part of the movie is probably when Microsoft sells DOS to IBM. I’ll let this clip speak for itself:

The other best scene of the movie is when Apple gets the GUI from Xerox. I couldn’t find a video of that clip to post here. It is also really interesting when an Apple employee confronts Gates telling him that instead of Apple thinking IBM is big brother that they don’t realize that Microsoft is their true enemy. He points this out to Jobs while he was trying to woo the Apple employees during a conference by showing them the famous 1984 Apple commercial.

Microsoft had the foresight to see that without software the hardware did nothing. Sure, you could have the most incredible monster machine but if nobody can do things with it, who would buy it?

Gates reminds me a lot of myself. He is characterized as being a very good poker player, the kind who will never let you know how good or bad of a hand he has and will make you make the wrong decision. Especially in the beginning, he uses a strategy of making you think that he has many business deals going on, when in reality he had none. Both sides did that actually. He got in trouble with the law, especially speeding (that’s me!), and doing other crazy things (not so much me, well, actually…) such as wrecking his friend’s car. Throughout the movie and in real life, he is a very competent negotiator.

Steve Jobs was just evil to me all throughout the movie. In real life, I still don’t like him, which is funny because I hated everything Microsoft for many years when I was younger, but in reality I didn’t like how he reacted to being informed at the number of record suicides at the Foxconn factories, which make a LOT of Apple products. The transformation this movie shows goes from stoner hippie to egoist pioneer to evil business genius. I just think he’s a real asshole. Through the movie he kept denying that his daughter Lisa was actually his.

Throughout the movie, the characters I enjoyed the most were Steve Wozniak (the Woz) and Steve Ballmer. I felt bad for the Woz because he just wanted to create and then he had to deal with all the drama and bullshit from Jobs, as well as seeing Jobs putting down people and destroying the Lisa. Woz was always trying to do the right thing, like not fuck his friends out of stock or treat employees like subhumans. I felt terrible for him when he quit the company after Jobs had pretty much created a civil war inside Apple (Macintosh vs everything else). Ballmer was just a total trip. He was this crazy jock that would always have the common sense, especially when it came to getting girls, that Bill Gates and Paul Allen did not have.

As a movie critic I give this movie a score of 7 out of 10. As a computer geek I give this movie a 9 out of 10. I think Micromen was a much better movie, about a similar topic. The music selection throughout the movie is excellent and I was really shocked by this as this was a made-for-TV movie. Noah Wyle as Jobs just blew my mind, which you might know as the science teacher from Donnie Darko. John DiMaggio was great as Ballmer, which is a real treat because he is usually known for his voice work in cartoons such as Futurama and also voice work for many video games.

Go watch it.

Kid Gloves

Kid Gloves - Amiga

Kid Gloves (1990)
By: Logotron Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Commodore Amiga First Day Score: 48,550
Also Available For: Atari ST

The poor old Amiga games industry was ravaged by pirated copies of games flooding the market and friends copying games for each other, it was this more than anything else that brought Commodore down in the mid-90’s. I’ve always tried to avoid that sort of business but when I belatedly got my Amiga, a friend gave me a box of discs with copied games on. Some didn’t work, others were pretty sucky, but of them all Kid Gloves is probably the one I played the most, guiltily of course, but seeing as it was later given away free by Amiga Power magazine I don’t feel so bad now! However, since I no longer have my Amiga and have developed a deep fear of using WinUAE, it’s been a long time since I played this game. It’s not looked upon too favourably by the Amiga community these days, I wonder if I’m about to destroy my happy memories of playing it too…

Kid Gloves - Amiga

It’s a pretty simple game which sees you, as Kid, attempting to rescue your kidnapped girlfriend or some such nonsense. In order to do this he must make his way through the danger-filled, flick-screen world between him and his goal. Each of the screens are populated by various creatures and obstacles, such as pigs, goblin things, whirly blades, etc, which move in short, simple patterns, and some which remain still, such as fire. Contact with any of these objects means instant death for our hapless hero. Fortunately he can fight back, against the creatures at least, by firing coins at them, and there are other weapons available in the shop that appears periodically including Flames, Deathstar, and Megalaser. Many of the screens also contain other items like food (for points), keys (to pass barriers), money (to spend in shops), smart bombs (to clear screens of enemies), and ankh’s (for extra lives) and he can also use magic to turn the barriers into food too.

Kid Gloves - Amiga

If there’s one thing about Kid Gloves which is still as true today as the first day I played it, it’s that it’s a pretty tough game! Some screens have objects such as blocks that fall down when you touch them to help you reach certain areas. Not only does this kind of thing kill you if you go so much as a pixel too close, but they can also have the opposite effect and prevent you from accessing an area. Most of the enemies in the game either walk backwards and forwards on platforms or bounce on the spot but there are also some that appear some time after you entered a screen. These ones can move freely around the screen and pursue you like Baron Von Blubba! Luckily, unlike the Bubble Bobble meany, these can be shot, but they always appear in the same place regardless of where you are on the screen which means they might appear right on top of you if you’re not careful! There are also some fireball things that move much more quickly around the screen if you hang around for too long, and these cannot be shot. However, leaving the screen then returning to it will reset everything to its original place, except the enemies which do not reappear.

Kid Gloves - Amiga

That’s pretty much the only problem with this game. I knew even back then that it was a simple game, looking more akin to a Public Domain game than a full-price release. The backgrounds and sprites look okay but are poorly animated and hardly push the Amiga to its limits. There is some nice sampled sound effects and speech though, and a pretty decent title-screen tune, but there’s no in-game music. None of this is really reason to dislike the game, it just has a few minor gameplay flaws that are so frustrating. The collision-detection is pretty shocking for one thing which obviously doesn’t help matters, and the controls can be really fiddly too – you try going up or down a ladder in a hurry! I never could get very far in Kid Gloves and that hasn’t changed since I started replaying it. Every time I think “right, I’ll get really far into it this time” it just ends up annoying me too much and I play something else. I don’t think it’s aged too badly, but it’s flaws are more apparent to me now. Ultimately it has a certain charm but this is a very average game that could’ve so much better with a few tweaks.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjjHNqxLJ5M[/youtube]

RKS Score: 5/10

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!

Official Viva Amiga Teaser Trailer: Version 1

Viva Amiga web still
Viva Amiga web still

Obsolete Gamer has been working with the good folks over at Viva Amiga on their creation and marketing of their upcoming documentary. Earlier this year we published an article with Zack Weddington of the film.

Now you can check out their first teaser trailer.

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…


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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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.

Gamer Culture: OverClock Remix

Overclocked Remix logo

OverClock Remix

In this new editorial series I wanted to go over different aspects of gamer culture. When video games you could play in your own home came on the scene a whole new world was created. Today there are so many different communities and groups within gaming that you could spend your entire life discovering and experiencing them. From blogs, to LAN parties to institutions dedicated to everything gaming, if you have a niche you can easily find a haven for it.

Now ever since the earliest games on the Atari as far as consoles and the Commodore as far as personal computers, music has been a very important part of the gaming experience. As gaming evolved the music did as well and entire scores were created for games performed by those self-defined as novice musicians to orchestra led presentations of music.

I personally became a fan of video game music after listing to some of the tracks from popular games such as Mega Man, Sonic the Hedgehog and Final Fantasy. In the past it was almost impossible to find the music from video games and if a soundtrack was created it was often only available in Japan.

Slowly but surely websites began to emerge that offered downloads of game music in the midi format. While it was not an exact representation of the music from the video game it at least gave fans something to keep of their own.

Later, more websites were born offering wav files of music. This was a golden age for game music fans as often the music was spot on and could be burned onto a CD. Almost at the same time specialty websites were created offering the direct sound file from a game meaning it was taken from the programing itself so it sounded exactly as it would on the game. For these files you would often need a specifically created program to play it although many created Winamp plugins so you could listen to authentic game music on your media player.

Then came something that for me personally changed the face of video game music. It started with a friend playing a song from Megaman 2 but it was slightly different with added beats and sound effects. When I asked what it was I was told it was a remix. From there I was introduced to the website Overclock Remix.

Overclock Remix was founded in 1999 and was created to showcase video game music as the art form that it is. OC Remix offers fans of video game music a place to remix and re-mastered their favorite video game music arrangements from all across the video game spectrum.  OCR showcases hundreds of re-mixers that have created thousands of remixed versions of video game music all free to download.

From there the site grew to what it is today, a place where fans, fanatics and students of video game music can go to listen, create, learn and remix video game music. You can even learn how to create remixes of your own and read the profiles of the original and remix composers.

I fell in love with this site and spent countless hours listening and downloading remixed versions of my favorite songs many that I play in my home, at the office and even in my car. OC Remix’s artists do not just take a song and make a few changes here or there. Sometimes a song is totally re-envisioned creating a completely new piece of music. These are true fans of video game music and offer it to the world free of change. In addition the remixes help preserve the essence of the original music and credit is always given to the original composer.

David “djpretzel” Lloyd is the founder of the site and after seeing many specialty music sites wanted to create a place where music from all gaming could be found so you can find music from platforms ranging from the Amiga to current systems today and everything in-between.

Music is undeniably a part of gaming culture and the remixes and mix masters from OverClock Remix have made their mark on it. If you like video game music you will love OC Remix and Obsolete Gamer recommends you check it out. They are an important part of gaming culture and gives us fans yet another outlet to enjoy our favorite past time.

Here is an arrangement of a few of my favorite OverClock Remixes.

Zack Weddington ‚Äď Viva Amiga

Viva Amiga logo
Viva Amiga logo

Viva Amiga

Sometimes it goes beyond classic gaming, when we talk about certain companies, they and the products they release, are considered classics themselves. What makes a company a classic is the multifunctionality they brought to the industry and the Amiga computer did just that. It was more than just a computer for many of its fans. Unfortunately, in today’s world either you had one and know exactly how awesome it was from the hardware to the software to the community or you have no clue.

There are websites and fans by the thousands that still discuss and even use Amiga computers today. Perhaps it can be considered a cult following, but like anything truly a classic there will be those who wish to preserve its memory. In the past there have been attempts to create a video documentary on the Amiga computer and its impact on the industry, but in the end they fell short. Zack Weddington and Viva Amiga plan to change that with their upcoming documentary on the Amiga.

Viva Amiga is currently working on a documentary about the Amiga computer and its impact on the industry, the marketplace and even pop culture. The film will cover all aspects of the system from business to gaming and everywhere in-between. One of the most important points that Zack states he is going for is the human factor. It is the real life stories from people who made and used the system.

A great product supported by a great company and revered by an awesome user base is what creates a complete classic and it is the people that make that happen. On the Amiga Film website you will be able to track the progress of the film and submit your own stories and experiences with the Amiga system. Obsolete Gamer is also collecting information on our forums and will support the film in any way we can because we are after all fans ourselves.

In an effort to bring more awareness of this film to fans of the Amiga system we conducted an interview with Zack Weddington from Viva Amiga on the upcoming documentary.

Zach Weddington ‚Äď Viva Amiga
Zach Weddington ‚Äď Viva Amiga

Obsolete Gamer: What made you want to do a documentary on the Amiga computer?

Zack Weddington: I had started going to the Vintage Computer Festival East every year with my good friend Mike Lee, where I got to see all kinds of great old computer systems on display. I saw presentations by people like former Commodore Engineer Chuck Peddle who designed the MOS-6502 processor chip which ran almost every console in the 1980’s. I was a huge Amiga fan back in the day as well so I think all that was kinda rattling around in my brain when I was just driving around in my car one night. That’s when the idea stuck me, and I called my friend Mike right away, who thought it was a great idea. He became one of my partners on the film.

Obsolete Gamer: There are still a ton of not only fans, but users of Amiga computers today. Is the film more for them or mainstream even for those who may not have used or even remember the Amiga?

Zack Weddington: The film is being made “for the fans”, most definitely, but we are also hoping to attract viewers who have an interest in technology and geeky topics in general. We think the film will be interesting to people who have never even heard of the Amiga, because it is the stories of the people involved with the Amiga which really drive the film. It’s also gonna have a hell of a lot of eye candy and awesome animation done by me and my other partner, David Kessler, a fellow video artist.

Obsolete Gamer: What is your own background and experience with Amiga computers?

Zack Weddington: It’s a pretty good story, I think. I was a passionate user of the Amiga. Back when I was about 12 or so, I started seeing computer graphics on television. Things like the Dire Straits video “Money for Nothing” with the blocky characters, Crest toothpaste commercials with those bouncing blue toothpaste blobs. I was really entranced by 3-D CGI. I asked my father how those were made and he told me they were done on a computer. From that moment on, I wanted to learn how to do 3-D computer animation. So I begged my Dad to buy me a computer, and he did. An IBM PS/2. A great machine for the time, but of course, you couldn’t do any serious animation on it with just a16 color pallette and no video output of any kind. So I was disappointed.

Months later I was walking through a bookstore in a mall and saw the Amiga 500 displaying a 3-D raytraced animation by Dr. Gandalf. It was a photorealistic animtation of one of those “infinite motion” desk toys with the silver balls that swing. I was amazed by the reflections and shadows in the animation. Here was a desktop computer that could clearly do the kind of animation I wanted to create, and it was even cheaper than the computer my father had just bought me. I convinced my Dad to let me sell the PS/2 and get an Amiga instead. He thought I was nuts, but of course it was the right decision. I went on to create tons of animations with my Amiga and make a career for myself doing this kind of stuff.

 

Dave Haynie ‚Äď Viva Amiga
Dave Haynie ‚Äď Viva Amiga

Obsolete Gamer: Now on your website you state the film is for fans and users of the Amiga and you are looking for ideas and thoughts, how has the reception been so far?

Zack Weddington: The reception has been great. People are very supportive and excited about the whole thing.

Obsolete Gamer: As for user submitted content what kind are you looking for?

I am looking for animations people made, “demo scene” type stuff, music…any kind of media that you might think has merit and think represents what a person could do with the Amiga. Anyone who has content they want to submit should email me at vivaamiga@yahoo.com for now.

Obsolete Gamer: Have people in the industry been receptive to your film?

Zack Weddington: The only people that really know about the film right now are the Amiga

community and former Commodore people. I’m still kind of slowly leaking out details of the film. I’ve got some connections with the G4 network that I plan to take advantage of later on, but the film is still in the early stages of shooting. Lot of work to do before I begin plastering the film everywhere…

Obsolete Gamer: When you speak of focusing on the ‚Äúhuman side‚ÄĚ what is your vision as far as that?

Zack Weddington: People who designed the Amiga, who worked at Commodore, who wrote for Amiga ¬†magazines….people who really cared about the Amiga and what it made possible,

these are the kind of people that appear in the film and tell their personal stories. It’s the stories of the people who made the thing possible as well as the story of the machine itself.

 

Bil Herd ‚Äď Viva Amiga
Bil Herd ‚Äď Viva Amiga

Obsolete Gamer: When do you hope to launch the film?

Zack Weddington: We’re looking at sometime in late 2011 or early 2012. It’s a lot of work.

Obsolete Gamer: What can we as fans of Amiga do to help?

Zack Weddington: At the moment, just stay in the loop and check out the website , blog, and Facebook. I’ll be asking for some favors in the fall.

Obsolete Gamer: As far as gaming, what was your favorite Amiga game?

Zack Weddington: Well, back in the 80’s I was an arcade maniac. I spent probably 8 hours a week in arcades at least, so that’s where my favorite games were located. I was a SEGA fanboy, used to just sit and watch OutRun in “attract mode” just to try and figure out how the amazing graphics were done. Being creative types, me and my friend Josh used to spend hours making our own games with the “Shoot Em Up Construction Kit” on the Amiga. You could design your own sprites and backgrounds for your own vertically scrolling shooter games. It rocked.

In addition to tracking the progress of the film on the Viva Amiga website they also have a FaceBook page where you can leave comments and receive updates. Obsolete Gamer will also be following the films progress as well as bringing you articles and stories on the Amiga. We can always use your input and you can submit questions and comments via our forums.

Tandy Color Computer 3

TRS-80 Color Computer
TRS-80 Color Computer

Released in 1986 the Radio Shack Tandy Color Computer cost around $220 and came with 128k of RAM that could be upgraded up to 512K. With 640×192 graphic capabilities and a 64-color palette it was designed to compete with the Apple II, Amiga and Atari ST.

As stated in the commercial the TCC3 did have a number of great software titles for games and education, however for the most part people looking for educational computers turned to Apple while gamers flocked to the Amiga and Atari systems.

You got to love that originally the nerdy kid was using the computer for educational purposes and the ‚Äúcooler‚ÄĚ kid was playing games and then they pull a switch on you.

Only Amiga

[youtube id=”dbWwgI4-DFo” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Only Amiga

You know I loved my Amiga, but I don’t think I loved it enough to sign about it. It seems there are a lot of people who are willing to. This commercial features an original song sung by a woman who looks a lot like Mary Lou Retton.

Amiga 500

Sure the song is a bit cheesy and has a heaven’s gate cult feeling seeing all the people talk about how great Amiga is, but it’s all in good fun.

Though it is kind of catchy in a subliminal type of way, seeing all those people chant Only Amiga at the end of the commercial sends a chill down my spine.

The Amiga CD32

Amiga CD32
Amiga CD32

Obsolete Commercials: The Amiga CD32

The Amiga CD32 was a nerfed Amiga 1200 in the form of a console. You could however add a mouse, hard drive, keyboard, and floppy drive to turn it into a full Amiga 1200.

The Amiga CD32 was plagued with a legal problem and Commodore was unable to openly sell it in North America.

For me, although I loved Amiga machines, this is just another console put out during the rush to try to get everybody to use systems with CD media. Most CD games at that time were utter crap but that didn’t matter, Commodore would be bankrupt about 6-7 months after the CD32 came out.

I had read years ago that Microsoft had bought the rights to the CD32 in part of the Commodore liquidation or in one of its reliquidations (companies kept selling the rights over and over), which they had bought the CD32 rights about 2 years before the original XBox came out.

Much like other crappy Commodore commercials, here is the one they put out for the CD32:

The Amiga – 1985

Amiga logo
Amiga logo

The Amiga

We all know the Amiga was one of the most awesome computers out there, but man were some of their commercials weird. Take this one for instance for 1985, you would think you are in some weird Sci-Fi or SYFY (yuck) channel cheesy movie of the week.

Amiga Fact #213 ‚Äď The A500‚Äôs codename was the Rock Lobster.

Check out all our videos on our YouTube Channel.

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.

About us in general

Obsolete Gamer Title Picture

A group of us decided to get together to create a website that would have honest, down-to-earth no-nonsense reviews on new and old games for PC and all other systems.Read More