The Daily Awesome: the Model G1 from Rabbit Engineering

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The Model G1 from Rabbit Engineering

Today’s Daily Awesome is the Model G1 from Rabbit Engineering. It is an arcade unit that allows you to play almost any NES cartridge. What’s cool is the styling’s which was made to order and features arcade-style inputs and its own screen and the classic wooden finish is pretty sweet.

 

Model G1 from Rabbit Engineering

Now this rig is a bit pricy at $199, but for retro enthusiast it’s a must have!

P.S. In the video above is the G2 which features an Atari 2600!

Check out the specs and details here – Rabbit Engineering Model G1

Java Based NES Emulator

nes
This post could have been a rant about Nintendo’s censoring policies of yore, focusing for example on the convenient paradigm of Maniac Mansion (for NES, apparently). Of course, it’s not.It’s a simple, albeit glorified, post about a link. A link to a Java-based NES (or Famicom, accordingly) emulator, wisely code-named Andre’s NES Emulator. Visit it and play such classics as Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, Punch Out, Metroid, The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Mega Man and Castlevania. Each one of them a piece of gaming history. Each one of them quite free and without the need for any downloads.

Oh – it almost slipped my mind – here’s the link. Have fun, but don’t break anything.


The ZX Spectrum Bible

Actually, more of the ZX Spectrum PDF emulation Bible, but this would be too long a post title… Still, oh wise and cheap-ass retroheads, just click here and you’ll get yourselves the brilliant 82 pages long PDF of the aptly (and rather eloquently) named The ZX Spectrum on your PC. Brilliant, educating, handy, quite free and sporting a nice cover, this is as retro as an ebook can get.

 

The CD-i

It danced, it singed, it was good for audio, video, Karaoke and CD+G discs, while at the same time (not literally, mind you) it played games. The CD-i you see, oh dear retro-minded reader, had a decent library of gaming and educational software. ~Konstantinos Dimopoulos

The CD-i

It’s really weird feeling nostalgic for a console never actually owned, played or in any way experienced… Still, the CD-i was the second CD console I ever craved (promptly following the equally unsuccessful CDTV). And it was ads like this (via), that spawned my ungodly craving:
cdi-ad
Even though the console was a commercial failure, it was rather an interesting kit of hardware, that somehow managed to become the home of some weird, rare and quirky Mario and Zelda games. Featuring a 16bit 68000 based processor (@ 16MHz), 1.5 whole MB of RAM, a single-speed CD drive, optional MPEG-1 capabilities and dazzling 32k color graphics, CD-i was quite the home-entertainment hub Philips had wanted it to be.
It danced, it singed, it was good for audio, video, Karaoke and CD+G discs, while at the same time (not literally, mind you) it played games. The CD-i you see, oh dear retro-minded reader, had a decent library of gaming and educational software.
Litil Divil - CD-i
Top titles included Burn:Cycle, Myst, Dragon’s Lair, Litil Divil, Mad Dog McCree, Rise of the Robots and a dozen more.
Surprisingly (to me at least), the CD-i failed, and I never got one. Why? Guess it was a money thing. 1up, has more to add to the sad story. As for an emulator… Tough luck. There’s the freeware CD-ice that’s capable of emulating one game (Rise of the Robots, in case you were wondering), and the shareware Cd-i Emulator (free demo).

Both though need the CD-i’s ROM images. Tough luck. Again.


Lost In Translation: Vietnamese Pokemon Crystal

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Isn’t bootlegging what keeps Chinatowns across the US afloat? How can we strive to keep the American dream alive if we don’t indulge immigrants by purchasing their fine wares?~Umar Khan

Lost In Translation:

Poorly subtitled bootleg copies of games and videos are all lying somewhere in the darkest, dustiest corner of your closet. It’s hard for some to admit that they’ve acquired these counterfeit replicas but we’ve all purchased some at one point or another. Why pay full price when you could just as easily get a rip for $5? Isn’t bootlegging what keeps Chinatowns across the US afloat? How can we strive to keep the American dream alive if we don’t indulge immigrants by purchasing their fine wares?

 eggiereceivedrug

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can get an exact replica of what you’re looking for. In some case, in the case of this video, you get something zestfully bizarre. Somewhere on the internet – I’ll leave you to find out where exactly – there is a ROM of a Vietnamese rip of Pokemon Crystal. To save the painstaking adventure of playing through this ROM, Youtube user DeliciousCinnamon has gone ahead and created a documentary followed with some hilarious commentary to walk you through the experience.

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.


Games to Buy: December: Week 3

Sony PSP
Sony PSP

I am going to name this report turn-back Tuesday because there are a number of retro games being released. So, I have some good news and bad news. The good news is these classic games are awesome, the bad news is you will have to have a PSP to play them. Ah, the PSP, it’s like the ugly daughter of a billionaire. You don’t want to take her out, but if you do you get to drive the Mercedes.

As a boycott all the videos will be from the original games.

Metal Slug

The ultimate in slide scrolling shooters, if you haven’t played this on an emulator go do so now. This is one of those games you can play over and over forever. It’s you, the lone wolf with an arsenal of weapons from machine guns, to flamethrowers to tanks, against a horde of bad guys. This game is fast paced with great graphics and music and it is hard as well.

Art of Fighting

This title shows its age a bit more than other Neo Geo games. It’s really like a mix between Street Fighter and Final Fight in the way the characters move along with the backgrounds. Having the ability to move back and forward added an interesting dynamic to the game. One thing I personally thought this game suffered from was the cheap combos some characters could use, but honestly if you are good you can overcome them.

Fatal Fury

SNK, that is pretty much all you need to know. This is yet another great fighter from the Neo Geo that is more geared to counters than most other fighters. There are a lot of great fighters in Fatal Fury and learning all their combos is the key to winning, but with almost all fighters from SNK there are some shoe in characters that will just own you with a few moves. The graphics and sound isn’t as high end as other Neo Geo titles, but the moves were pretty fluid for the time. As for the music, not personally my favorite soundtrack, but they did a decent job.

Samurai Shodown

Another awesome fighter from the Neo Geo. Samurai Shodown is all about the art of the weapon and it allows players to pick a character based on their play-style. If you love to attack from far you can pick a character with a longer sword or a ranged attack like that damn bird that owns me. Like in Art of Fighting you can move forward and backward as well as side to side in order to better setup your attack. Graphic wise it is a little cleaning and clearer than Fatal Fury and the soundtrack is more slated to the time period. Samurai Shodown is one of the best weapon fighters of all time.

The King of Fighters ’94

Rounding out the Neo Geo flashback is King of Fighters where here you pick teams of three and represent your country in team based fighting. The King of Fighters takes characters from various SNK game including pre-NEO GEO ones and allows you to battle it out. The gameplay is the same as Fatal Fury or Art of Fighting as far as controls and combos. However the Team Battle System is what makes KOF so cool.

PSP or Emulator….

Look, sure you could go and get a ton of emulators that could play these games. In fact you could even mod your PSP in order to play these very games emulated, but you wouldn’t want to do that would you? I didn’t think so, see you next time.

Super Castlevania IV OST

Super Castlevania IV OST

If you haven’t checkout my review on Super Castlevania IV go see it now. SCV4 was one of my favorite games on the SNES and it featured a ton of great tracks. The music sounded great for even today, but back then it was really incredible.

Super Castlevania 4 OST

 

The game features a number of remixes of themes from previous games and many new ones. The Castlevania soundtrack is one of the best in the gaming industry.

Super Castlevania 4

Super Castlevania 4 box
Super Castlevania 4 box

Super Castlevania 4

You know you have a great game when it is fun to play years later and that is exactly the case with Super Castlevania IV. Created by Konami, CV4 was the first Castlevania game for the SNES. It was released on the Super Nintendo in late 1991 to high praise by both fans and reviewers.

Going Japanese

Super Castlevania 4 Statue
Super Castlevania 4 Statue

Before we get into my replaying of the game let’s talk about the Japanese version. In Japan the series is called Akumajō Dracula that officially translates to Devil’s Castle Dracula. There were also a number of changes between the Japanese version and the American version including the use of crosses on top of the tombstones, the misspelled name Dracura on the tombstone in the title video was changed to unreadable text.

There were also some level changes which made me a sad panda including changing pools of blood from red to green, removing the blood dripping from the title screen and changing the topless statue in level 6 of the game. Strangely enough the monster called Medusa remained topless however her nipples were removed, how kinky.

Something Old, Something New

The story of Castlevania pretty much remains the same. You play as Simon Belmont the legendary vampire hunter that has come from a long line of vampire hunters. It has been 100 years since Dracula has roamed the earth and his alarm clock just went off.

The Super Nintendo allowed a lot of cool changes to the Castlevania series over its predecessors. One of the first notable changes was the eight directions Simon can swing his whip allowing more flexibility. Second you could keep your whip out to use it like a shield and a weapon to slowly kill the monsters. More whip fun included being able to latch onto grappling points to pull Simon up or down and swing from place to place.

This game featured sub-weapons like the knife, cross and holy water that you could find by destroying Dracula’s Bed Bath and Beyond candles. You would need to collect hearts which represented your ammo for those weapons. There were also power-ups for your whip as well as normal items like health replenishment and one that killed on the enemies on the screen.

Setting the Stage

Super Castlevania 4
Super Castlevania 4

What really made this game stand out was the improved level design. Not only were the graphics improved, but the things going on within the level were new and exciting. Some of the coolest things were the room which rotated when you attached your whip to a grapple point. Another awesome stage was where you ran across wooden planks that would fall with the entire room spinning behind you. It was level design such as this that made the game so fun to play.

I loaded up Super Castlevania and it took me back to my teenage years. It only took me a moment to get use to the controls again and even though you cannot make moves like you can in SOTN it was pretty easy to control Simon. In SCV4 you could control the way you jumped and moved even in midair which was handy since there were tons of bats, birds and ghosts in the way ready to knock you to the ground.

If you are a veteran of pretty much any jumping platform game then Castlevania would not seem too hard. A lot of the challenge came when you never played before and did not know what to expect, but that is half the battle. There were a number of close jumps and run and gun sections of the game that put your skills to the test. As for the bosses, most of them had an easy pattern that after a few tries became real easy.

The Sound of Death
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The music from this game was just awesome. It sounded great back then and still today with many remixes from previous Castlevania games. The music just fit so well with the stages and did not get boring or annoying. If you want to listen to more tracks from this game head on over to The Music Hall and listen to the Super Castlevania IV OST.

Final Thoughts

Super Castlevania 4
Super Castlevania 4

The game had a mix of feeling long and short at the same time. There are 11 stages in all and if you never played before the game seems long, but if you run and gun through the game it can seem pretty quick. The monsters including the bosses were mixed in from various sources including horror movies, Greek Mythology and the bosses you would expect Dracula to team with like Frankenstein and The Mummy.

As for difficultly the only hard part was not being knocked off a platform by a bird or bat. Honestly, besides that even Dracula himself was not hard to put down. The key is keeping your health high and swinging your whip at as many walls as you can because there are a ton of hidden rooms and secret items to help you out.

You can of course play Super Castlevania IV on any emulator or you can get it on your Virtual console. Overall the game is fun to play and the soundtrack will have you humming the tunes while laying the beat down. I give the game an overall score of 9.0 out of 10.

Sonic Crackers

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Sonic Crackers

Was this to be Sonic 4, an extension of Sonic 3 or a mash up of various Sonic games into one? There are still some who debate what this game was to be but the common wisdom is that Sonic Crackers was an early prototype for the game that would come to be known as Knuckles Chaotix for the Sega 32x system.

Sonic Crackers

This uncompleted game features Sonic and Tails who are tethered together by rings, which also appears in Knuckles Chaotix. Sonic can pick up tales and throw him to higher areas and use “bungie-like” physics to pull him up to platforms.

There were two main uncompleted levels in Sonic Crackers that had music, but no sound effect as well as bonus areas (which you entered when you died or completed the first level). There are no enemies anywhere within the zones and you cannot collect any rings but lose a large amount when you die. Also when paused you can float around the world and un-pause to get to new areas.

Who am I?

One of the first things you will notice if you get your hands on a copy of the ROM is that Sonic Crackers is named Sonic Studium. This alone has caused some to believe it was to be a completely new chapter for the series. What we have learned about ROM’s is that they don’t always contain the correct or real name of a game.

Sonic Crackers

Also the name “Studium” is not a misspelling (at least not by us) it is how it is spelled on the code. As we all know “Studium” is not a real word. Now they could have meant Stadium, but even so it is not the name of the game.

4/1/94

Another theory about Sonic Crackers is that it was a hoax by Sega.  The reasoning behind this is the date of release was April 1st 1994. While in the planning stages for Sonic 4 a new technology was announced called Lock-On, no one knew what Lock-On technology was.

Sonic Crackers

In the Sonic Crackers game Sonic and Tales are linked together by rings and a tether and the idea was that people would believe (mistakenly) that this was the Lock-On technology.

The Sound of Music

One of the reasons it was believed Sonic Crackers was its own game at one time was the music. In the end, when Chaotix was released you could hear some similar sounds between its music and the one from Sonic Crackers. However, some believe the music sounds as if beats and tones where taken away.

Sonic Crackers field zone

The idea is if Sonic Crackers was either a fake or a very early build the music would sound less complex on Crackers and more complex on Chaotix.

Industrial Zone

The first level has an industrial theme which looks a lot like the Techno Tower level from Chaotix that fuels the fire that this was just an early prototype of that game. In the ROM you can move freely through the level and as stated before you can pause the game and “float” to wherever you want.When you reach the top of the level the “Game Over” music activates and that leads you into the first “Field” or bonus level.

Sonic Crackers

The music and palettes within the game changes each time you enter which shows that a time of day features was already being tested. While you cannot conventionally die on this or any of the other levels once the times reaches three minutes you get the “Game Over” music.

Field Level A

This bonus level has a pink and yellow tile on the floor as well as rainbows and waterfalls. It appears to be in the sky as there looks to be clouds in the open areas of the level. However, despite the different sections you cannot interact or fall through anywhere within this zone.

Sonic Crackers

You can exit this stage by hitting any button.

Circus Zone

The second level in the game has a carnival/circus theme which resembles the Speed Slider Zone from Knuckles Chaotix. You cannot beat this level as it just loops around, but after one minute of play time the game over music activates.

Sonic Crackers

The overall level design looks fun with tons of loops and spins however the prototype was buggy making it had to walk on the “floor”

Field Level B

The second field is much darker and has more of a technical feel to it. It appears you are high above a futuristic city, but once again you cannot interact or fall through the level.

Sonic Crackers

In this video, made by PaxPredicate, you can see all the zones and bonus levels for Sonic Crackers. In addition, he points out many of the bugs in the game including the physics issues with the connecting rings, the lack of rings even though when you hit spikes you lose a ton of them and the level instability.

Field Testing

Now you can get your hand on this game. Pretty much it is a simple Google search and you can find a ROM for it. I used the GENS win-32 emulator to try the game out, but I have confirmed it works with many of the other popular Sega Genesis emulators. Keep in mind the game will be buggy and there are no bad guys or sound effects and you cant really finish the final level. However, it was still fun to try if nothing else than for research purposes. There are two flavors of Sonic Crackers. They are the 1MB dump and the 2MB over-dump. The 2MB over-dump contains about half of a prototype Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game. The precise game that the prototype is for has not been determined.

CSI Sonic Crackers

During my research I found a few emulation sites that have people decompiling Sonic Crackers in order to learn more about the game and try to either complete it, fix the current prototype to become stable or incorporate it with an existing Sonic game. Now, I don’t know if these guys want the press so I won’t mention who they are, but the good news is many of them plan to release a copy you can play on an emulator pretty soon. If this happens and it’s safe and stable and they allow it I will follow-up and bring it to you.

F-Zero review & strategy guide

F-Zero Title
F-Zero Title

F-Zero review & strategy guide (SNES) by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:
“The trend-setting pioneer of futuristic racing games.”

Overall Score:
10 out of 10

Overview, Gameplay, & Strategies:

Before Wipeout came out to compete with it, F-Zero pretty much dominated the futuristic racing genre and for good reasons too. The game consists of piloting one of 4 different hover race-cars. Whereas in the past Formula 1 was a test of driving skill, in the universe of F-Zero (F0) racing hovercars has taken over this test for racing supremacy.

When the game starts, you pick one of four different cars. After picking the one that you like or that matches your skill or play style, you pick which league you want to play in. From easiest to hardest, the leagues are: Knight, Queen, and King. This modifies how hard the tracks themselves will be. Next, you pick your difficulty level. This modifies how much damage you can take and how good the A.I. of rival drivers will be. Each league has 5 tracks which are variations of each other. The tracks are Mute City, Big Blue, Sand Ocean, Death Wind, Silence, Fire Field, Port Town, Red Canyon, and White Land. They are not raced necessarily in that order rather depending on your racing league difficulty. Each track and its variations have their own strategies and all these strategies depend on what car you picked. Some cars will be nearly useless on some tracks and it will be simply a matter of surviving through the race. I say to do what I always do, which seems to work (in games and in real life): memorize all tracks and all their parts to be able to take optimal turns and know when it’s hammer down time.

F-Zero 1st place
F-Zero 1st place

The goal is to reach first place or as high a place as possible while surviving. Yes, this is a game where if you take enough damage you will die. Your car has a certain amount of power and if you take enough damage the performance of the car will be significantly lowered. When your power bar empties out, you blow up. You can also blow up by taking a ramp and jumping and landing off the track (which can happen especially in the higher difficulty leagues). Touching other cars, touching the side bumpers, and especially touching the cars that are about to explode and do explode, all damage your car, especially the last one.

After each lap, you are awarded with a speed booster. It’s a good tactic to save these until needed rather than waste them, unless you are driving on a familiar track and you know that there is a manageable part up ahead that you can blast by going beyond the full speed of your car. Every 10000 points, you get an extra life. These lives are used if you do not meet the minimum position for that lap or an overall 3rd place finish overall for the race, as well as being used up if you blew up during the race. At specific parts of a track, there are areas where if you drive over them, a ship from above will fly down and beam power to your car to heal it. A strategy here is taking into account that the ship does have a lead time for it to get aligned to the optimal position where it can share the energy with you. Stay as much on the strip as possible if you want to heal the maximum amount of power. Also, certain parts of the track have sand which slows you down (taking advantage of that can be a winning strategy as well) and some areas have a super speed boost arrow which can boost you up faster than the speed booster. It’s not always a good tactic to use these if they are positioned to boost you too fast into an area where you will need to turn aggressively and you will now be speeding out of control into a wall, for instance.

You pick the car you like over the 4 different cars, The Blue Falcon (Blue), Golden Fox (Yellow), Wild Goose (Green), and Fire Stingray (Pink). Each car has a certain amount of thrust, a certain top speed, and a certain amount of weight. All these factors are really important, like in a real car, as you have to deal with how much momentum your car has (related to weight), which is related to its handling characteristics, and its power-to-weight ratio. I did find that the way car weight is done in this game is UNREALISTIC. Whereas a lighter car in real life would be easier to control (let’s say like a Lotus Exige), the opposite in this game happens (that would be like a Chrysler 300 outmaneuvering that Lotus Exige; it would never happen). In this game having a heavier weight gives you a more predictable turn with less drifting.

Let’s look at the detailed stats of each car and discuss their strengths and weaknesses:

BLUE FALCON (Blue)
Max Power: 3200 PS
Max Speed: 457 km/h
Weight: 1260 Kg

This is the default car that most inexperienced gamers will pick but it’s actually sometimes harder than some of the heavier cars, if you don’t know how to properly use it. It has a considerable drift ability and it being the 2nd lightest car will have it been bounced around pretty hard should you crash against other cars (which happens often). The tactic for Blue Falcon is to really avoid all other cars, to anticipate your drift and floor it through turns but letting it glide (turn with not thrust) seems to work wonders. Braking is not as bad as with some other cars since it has the 2nd best acceleration as well. Keep the boosts around for emergency use.

GOLDEN FOX (Yellow)
Max Power: 2950 PS
Max Speed: 438 km/h
Weight: 1020 Kg

This car is a little rocket, with the best acceleration, but lowest top speed and challenging handling. The tactic with this car is to drive like crazy knowing that you will re-accelerate really quickly. This car is the most prone to drifting so be real careful when taking 90 degree and higher turns. The tactic of braking and gliding works the best with this car. Since you have the lowest top speed be sure to use those boosters aggressively in tracks with little turns and lots of straightaways.

WILD GOOSE (Green)
Max Power: 3670 PS
Max Speed: 462 km/h
Weight: 1620 Kg

Although this car has the 3rd best acceleration of the four. To me, it is the best overall car. It’s still a good tactic with this car to hold on to the boost until you crash or are forced to slow down then hammer down on them, especially if you can manage the upcoming turns or its an easy straightaway in front of you.

FIRE STINGRAY (Pink)
Max Power: 3800 PS
Max Speed: 478 km/h
Weight: 1960 Kg

The tactic to this car is to exploit as much as possible the fact that you have the highest top speed out of all the cars. Take advantage of the car weight to turn optimally without braking or hitting anything. This car is the one that gets screwed over the most whenever you crash since its acceleration is abysmal. Using the boosts are a vital tactic to winning with this car. Since you have the highest top speed you will also have the maximum boosted speed as well. Remember that.

Remember that the shortest way in between two points is a straight line and this game takes advantage of that. Also, the ship that gives you power does not boost your speed, so unless you need energy, don’t swerve to pick up power if you are already at max power…

Fun Factor, Replayability, & My History With This Game:

This is an old racing game but it’s still fun enough to be able to play it over and over for hours. Sure, it’s relatively short and there’s only 15 different tracks but it can be very fun to master all tracks with all cars. Fun Factor gets a score of 9 out of 10.

I’ve been playing F-Zero since 1991 when my friend Eric R. got it for his SNES. We played the living hell out of this game although at the time this was a really tough game for us. The speed scale of the game blew me away as I was used to much slower racing games on the c64, which I still played a lot back in 1991. The speed of this game did not get topped until I started to play the Wipeout games and a forgotten racing game called Motorhead. I’ve played F-Zero probably in over 1000 races. Replayability gets a score of 9 out of 10, even after close to 19 years of the original F-Zero.

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:

Until you get good at this game, you might find this game rather hard, especially if you up the difficulty or pick some of the harder leagues right from the start. I recommend starting on Knight at the start but at least Standard difficulty, unless you are a complete noob at racing games. There are three difficulties: Beginner, Standard, and Expert. Standard is hard enough for most gamers but Expert is where the real fun is at. Just make sure you have trained enough to be able to handle it.

Between the mix of the league and the difficulty factor, this makes for a well customizable and challenging game. Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 9 out of 10 because you can really set it once you get the hang of how the system works. Difficulty itself is up to you but I give it a score of 10 out of 10 because it can either be a relaxing game or time to get bend over and let the game hurt you.

Value:

If you have the original cartridge of you can get it for $10-15 bucks, that’s great. This game is a requirement for any real SNES library. If you are like most people and emulate it, Value is perfectly free. I think unless you get really ripped off, the game is worth buying and owning. Value gets a score of 10 out of 10, so long as it’s around the free or $10-15 price range.

Sound:

The sounds work marvels in this game as you will hear the engine jet turbines whir from a stand-still to their max peak output. The damage sounds or explosion when you die are amazing. I just love the engine whir… Sound gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Music:

Music adds a lot to a game, especially to a racing game. The music of F-Zero is one of the most loved soundtracks for the Super Nintendo. I recommend getting the original ripped files as well as checking out the remixes at Overclocked Remix.

Stability/Reliability:

Never crashes! Neither the original nor emulator do so that gets a much deserved score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

Left and Right turn in their respective directions. One button controls the thrust (gas), another brakes, another applies the speed booster, and the L/R buttons make you side drift in those specific directions. I have found the side drift to be sort of useless except during emergency situations. I found it more effective to use traditional braking/drifting techniques. Controls are fluid, especially once you get a hang of them. The control setup for this game gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Graphics & Performance:

The game looks simply amazing and this was a landmark game for Nintendo showing some of the graphical and performance limits of the Super Nintendo. Whereas most other games for the SNES are 2D, this game is actually 3D, one of the few titles along with Star Fox. When I first saw this game and how quick it was, my jaw dropped. Graphics and Performance both get a score of 10 out of 10.

Conclusion:

What else can I say? This game is really a classic. I redefined the racing game genre for a lot of people. This proved to a lot of us that 16-bit systems could do a lot more than many 8-bit ones and that technology was going to create more and more advanced video games as time went on. If you have yet to play it, you are missing out on an important racing game in video game history.

ActRaiser

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A fine blend of an action side-scroller & Populous-like god game rolled into one game. ~Honorabili

ActRaiser

In ActRaiser, you take the role of a sleeping god which has just woken up after thousands of years to find that in your absence the whole world has gone to utter crap.

ActRaiser Title
ActRaiser Title

There are multiple stages (countries) in the game and the first stage consists of you manifesting an avatar in an action side-scroller game to fight your way through some monsters, kill a boss and liberate the land. After doing that you enter a god-mode game similar to Populous where you control a little angel cherub and you fight cute monsters and help guide the civilization level of the people of that country. Some plot device happens and then you must fight the final boss in order to free that land from monsters completely.

Once you’ve done that, so long as you met all the other objectives regarding you gifting people items/technology, that country will grow to its max population/civilization level. The more population you have in a country, the more followers you have, giving you the ability to level up (you only level up that way, not by killing stuff).

The game was written by Quintet, published by Enix (Square Enix) in 1991. There is a sequel that sucks, so just stick to the original. The game originally came out on the Super Nintendo, in 2004 released as a game for mobile phones, and in 2007 re-released on the Wii.

Fun Factor, Replayability, & My History With This Game:

I’ve played this game over 30 times since the early 90s. Although the game is rather simple, it has its own style and I play it at the bare minimum once or twice a year. It only takes me about 2-3 hours to play and beat the entire game. I keep coming back because I consider it a classic.

The action side-scrolling reminds me of a simpler Castlevania or Lionheart kind of game. The god mode game is like Populous except that it’s simpler but it’s fun watching terrain blow up and having your followers find stuff around the map.

After years of playing this I give Fun Factor a score of 7 out of 10. If you are playing it fresh, you’d probably say it’s worth an 8 out of 10. Replayability for me gets a score of 6 out of 10 as well.

Difficulty & Difficulty Versatility:

Overall, the game is rather easy.

ActRaiser Ending
ActRaiser Ending

It could be that I’ve played it too many times and I know all the spots that enemies in the action game will attack from as well the attack patterns of all the bosses but even when I first played the game in the early 90s, the game was not too challenging. You can ignore most enemies in the action levels and there’s only really one challenging boss, the Dragon. Two of the other bosses are not so much hard but more annoying and the strategy to beat them is simple.

The god game part is super easy so long as you listen to what your followers want and shoot mainly the bats and white dragons they auto build everything themselves.

Difficulty gets a score of 3 out of 10. Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 3 out of 10 as well because some parts get tougher slightly but the overall difficulty is the same throughout most of the game.

Value:

Most people will now be playing this game on ZSNES, the SNES emulator, probably playing a ROM they downloaded off the internet. If that’s the case the game is then free, giving Value a score of 10 out of 10.

Sound:

The sounds are rather simple in this game but they are satisfactory. For me, the best sounds come in the god mode when you kill monsters and blow up their lairs. For some reason the sound that happens when your population expands has stuck to my head all these years. Sound gets a score of 7 out of 10.

Music:

The music for this game is really nice and although it’s not as popular as let’s say the music of the Final Fantasy games, it still does get remixed quite a bit. If you want to check out some of the remixes, click here to download some at ocremix. The best songs are the main action stage song that happens in the first levels, god mode town song, and the song that gets played when one of your followers invents “music”. Overall, I give the Music a score of 8 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

On the original SNES, I’ve never seen this game crash. I’ve never seen the emulated version crash either. Nothing to complain about here. Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are pretty straight forward. The arrow keys/thumbpad move you in the direction you want. In action mode, one button makes you attack with the sword, another jumps, another detonates your magic attack. In god game mode, one button fires the cherub’s arrow while the other brings up the god powers interface screen. The only real problem I have with the gameplay and controls is that your avatar in action side-scroller mode can’t block. A lot of the gameplay comes down to just sheer chopping and jumping out of the way. The game I find easy, so it’s just me complaining, really. Controls get a score of 8 out of 10.

Graphics & Performance:

ActRaiser was well coded and both in the original and emulated version you have no problems with the game engine not being able to catch up to the action. The performance is fluid. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Since there are different modes to this game, let’s talk about the graphics for each one. The action sequence has really nice graphics for a 1991 action side-scroller. In the god-mode, the graphics look cute, even for the monsters as well as the little flying cherub that kills stuff for you. For 1991, this game gets a Graphics score of 9 out of 10.

Conclusion:

ActRaiser is a classic game for the SNES. If you are a fan of side-scrollers, you should check it out. If you also like games like Populous, although it’s very dumbed down in ActRaiser, you should also check it out. Overall, if you consider yourself a loyal SNES player, you should play this game as people who grew up playing the SNES are all very fond of this game.

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.

Gyruss

Gyruss Arcade
Gyruss Arcade

Gyruss review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“My favorite video game from my early youth”

Overall Score:
10 out of 10

Overview & my history with this game:

This review is specifically for the arcade and c64 versions. I haven’t played the other versions and I know the NES one is different (includes bosses, different music, etc.)

This was the first Konami game I ever saw or played, although it’s not their first game. People were impressed with Pacman but this was the first game that showed me that video games were going to be the future. This is the first game I remember having upgrades and also the concept of getting a “perfect”. This was the first game I played that had bonus stages too.

You take the role of a starship fighter pilot trying to fight your way to earth. The entire solar system has been taken over by a legion of enemy fighters and space stations. Your lone fighter will get swarm attacked by a pack of enemy fighters that will come at you in a specific attack pattern depending on what squadron you’re fighting and what planet you’re traveling to next. Your ship rotates around the center of the screen as you fight your enemies and keep flying forward. You start at Neptune and travel in order of the planets until you make it to Earth.

Gyruss Perfect
Gyruss Perfect

Not only are fighters coming at you at a fast rate but you have to deal with the projectiles they sometimes fire at you, passing asteroids, energy barriers that can rip you apart, and space stations that spawn at the end of a stage. Everything in this game kills you with one shot. If you get touched by an enemy ship or any other object, you instantly die.

At the end of the level, when there are a swarm of enemy fighters circling in the background, 2-3 enemy space stations will appear, one which, if you haven’t picked up the upgrade yet, will make two beams circle around the screen and land on your ship once you kill it, giving your weapon twice the width in spread.

If you kill a certain grouping of enemies in a specifically quick manner and leave no survivors the game also awards you with bonus points. This matters in this game, actually, because you get bonus lives based on your score.

The game loops when you beat it until you run out of lives.

This game has always made me think of the movie The Last Starfighter. In my mind, as a child, I imagined that it took place in that universe and the main character was fighting his way back home.

Gyruss is available originally for the Atari computers as well as 2600 and 5200 consoles, the ColecoVision console, the Commodore 64, and for the NES. The game got rereleased for Playstation, Gameboy Advanced, and Xbox Live Arcade.

Fun Factor:

Gyruss is a ton of fun and my favorite early shooter game. It’s a lot of fun to hear the swarm sound of a group of fighters jumping out at you in a really fast pattern and you blasting away as much as possible trying to kill them all and gain the bonus points while keeping them from ramming you or shooting you as well.

You can see how intense the action is in the following video:

Fun Factor gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

There is no way to change the difficulty but the game is challenging enough for most gamers as it is. The longer you play it, the harder it gets. The enemies will attack you more often in each passing stage. Overall, the game is tough near the later stages but it’s still playable.

Since you can’t change the difficulty that hurts it but it’s hard enough for most players. I give Difficulty Versatility a score of 7 out of 10.

Value:

Most people will just play this on M.A.M.E. these days so basically the ROM is free. Technically, you’re not supposed to play ROMs unless you own the game already.

The link to download the c64 emulated version is the following from c64.com.

I couldn’t easily find the Playstation and GBA versions for sale as they might be out of print.

Since most people will play the emulated versions, I’d give Value a score of 10 out of 10.

Replayability:

I’ve been playing Gyruss since the early 80s and I visit it often when I’m in a retro arcade/c64 gaming mood. The mix of the music, retro sounds, non-stop gameplay keeps me having fun even though it’s been many years that I’ve been playing this gem. It’s hard for me to get tired of the gameplay. Replayability get a score of 9 out of 10.

Sound:

The sound effects are super retro and they’re brilliant. My favorite sound effects are the blast of the main gun, the teleportation sound from when you warp to the next stage, the gun UPGRADE sound (oh god yes), and the explosion when one bites the dust. The rest of the sounds are great and sound like a perfect blend of retro arcade.

Sound gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Music:

The music to Gyruss is a simplied and sped up version of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue is D minor:

To me classical music in games, especially ones with a ton of action is pretty epic.

Music gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Graphics:

For an early 80s game, this game looks simply amazing. Most of the enemies for the main stages look the same but the enemies for the bonus stages look unique depending on which bonus stage you are doing. The game looks like a total evolution over Space Invaders. Graphics get a score of 10 out of 10, considering this is a 1983 game.

Stability/Reliability:

Since the 80s I’ve never seen this game crash or get stuck once, not even after playing it for ours on my old c64. Stability/Reliability are perfect and get a 10 out of 10.

Controls:

On all versions, the controls are really simple. Left rotates you in that direction and right rotates you in that direction. Fire just fires for all versions. Nothing fancy or confusing there.

For the arcade version, the ship will rotate in the direction of where you have the joystick pointed towards. If you keep it towards the top and you keep pointing up, the ship will just stay there once it’s topped out there.

For the c64 version, it’s a little different. Left moves you counter-clockwise, and right moves you clockwise, no matter what.

Controls can’t get simpler than that. Controls get a score of 10 out of 10.

Performance:

Perfect performance, even when the game just came out. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Conclusion:

Gyruss is a classic arcade game that should be played by everybody, especially retro arcade gaming junkies!

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