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Two Ancient Tomes

by on Oct.08, 2014, under Amiga, Short updates

wpid-20141007_153327.jpgReaders of these articles would be aware of my appreciation of Amiga Power.

It was a magazine that made me feel part of a larger world. Without it I’d have felt like one of about 3 Amiga users in the world.

It’s also a wonderful piece of computer history. Imagine a time when the CDTV was set to take on the world and arcade perfect conversations were appearing on the Amiga every month.

Both issues represent a very busy time for the Amiga. The issues are July and October of 1991 and have 24 and 17 full price game reviews.

I had one of the coverdisk demos, Exile long before getting hold of the magazine. An open world space adventure, it featured a little space man searching caves for items and being chased by annoying green birds and murderous white ones. To this day I have never attempted the full game, maybe I should do this now?

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Got 64 dreams (But a disk drive ain’t one)

by on Mar.31, 2014, under Commodore 64, Retro, Short updates

GizaAncient history is one of my stronger subjects and the study of times long past is fascinating to me. For video game ‘ancient’ history, the end of this period would be ushered in with the release of the behemoth that was Commodore’s ‘64’.

As any retro game fan/computer historian will tell you, the Commodore 64 broke ground when it came to having a computer in the home affordable for everyone. Roughly, the C64 was about ⅕ the price of the contemporary Apple Mac, it was able to do colour and was sold with video game peripherals. Its affordability, capabilities and eventually huge software range would make the C64 the first true mass market computer. It was a very important piece of hardware, as the video game industry had crashed in the USA back in 1983. The C64 filled the gap, by providing a mix of games and office applications. A household could feel that they were buying more than some video console fad.Platoon

My experiences with the Commodore 64 ran well into the 1990s and I often found myself wanting to use this older machine, and not my much newer Amiga 500. Perhaps it was an early wish to be more ‘retro’ on my part, but I remember being slightly disappointed when Dad told me he’d decided to get an Amiga over the older Commodore. As you, dear reader, would be aware, this was not a choice either of us regretted.

Cover SupremeSo it was that my C64 playing would be limited to at my cousin’s, and at a school friend’s house. All in all, I think I’ve spent less than 20 hours playing on a C64, which is not very much at all! Sadly, about 10% of that time would be consumed with waiting for games to load. Yeah, it’s slow.

Two fantastic games I remember were Platoon and Impossible Mission. They had in common a very high level of difficulty! Although Platoon was released on the Amiga, as was the Impossible Mission 2, the C64’s version had a special charm. The step from C64 to Amiga is similar to that of the NES to SNES. The crisp chiptune sounds were generally traded in for a higher quality but still rudimentary set of digital effects. It’s hard to explain, but although the Amiga and SNES are technically far superior, the result is often less lovable.

Pit Stop 2 was also fantastic, although I always blew out my tires and only rarely could I beat my cousin. I have mentioned this before, but the Epyx games on the C64 had some fantastic covers, some of the best of all time in my opinion.

I may end up buying a C64 in the mid term because I feel like I missed out on this formative part of video game playing history. I had better make sure to get a disk drive version or the loading times will have me pulling my hair out!

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The (g)Olden Days

by on Mar.21, 2014, under Amiga, Retro, Short updates

chronicles“(The Amiga 500) is kind of the Rodney Dangerfield of Personal Computers, it doesn’t get much respect among the IBMs and Macs of the world’

I stumbled on to this old TV show last week and found it a fascinating insight. Yesterday’s world of computing is the focus of this blog as you would be aware, and these episodes of Computer Chronicles are a goldmine for a nostalgia buff.

I would have loved this TV show to be on air in Australia at the time. It ran from 1981 until 2002 and in its half hour, covered all computer topics from video games, software development as well as the big personalities in the computing world. I was always very uninformed as a computer loving child. I never had the chance to run my video editing business and end up a millionaire by 14.

Although everything in these older episodes are amazingly quaint, it is very important to remember just how amazing these advances were, and how far the computer had come in just a few years.Workbench 1.3

I always knew that my Amiga 500 was special, but I like it when old TV tells me I was right.

Buying a video toaster seems like a good idea… even today!

 

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More Atari! Inflation and freedom.

by on Jul.10, 2013, under Second Generation, Short updates

Image from http://walyou.com/

Image from Waylou

I asked my parents about their thoughts on their first console.

They worked out that they bought the 2600 before I was born, so at least as early as 1980. Apparently it cost about $500 AUD when Dad bought it. This was at a time when average wages were $250 per week. Doing an estimate, the PS4 costing $550 AUD is MUCH more affordable than the Atari, or indeed many other consoles from times past.

Having the Atari 2600 gave my parents the freedom to choose what the TV screen showed them which was rare for that time. It was also something they could interact with. There was very little else at the time that could replicate this level of interactivity, especially something that could make use of the television.

It’s a strange world to think of, where the ‘modern’ entertainment was so limited. Remember this was an age when my parents (and many other people) had to stay up past midnight to watch Blake’s 7 and Doctor Who. VCRs were still fairly rare in 1980. Conventional wisdom would always put gaming consoles after video tapes, but it was not the case. It is interesting to think that my parents were indeed avid gamers, and my Dad remains one today.

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Bundle in a Box RETURNS! Capsule Computers!

by on Jun.09, 2013, under Hobbies, Modern, PC, Short updates

 

Capsule!

Once more we delve into the wonders that are the ‘Bundles in A Box’. I honestly can’t recommend these enough, dirt cheap and some games you won’t find anywhere else!

Having obsessively researched the wild and wondrous world of indie gaming, Bundle In A Box (in association with Capsule Computers) returns and is proud to present The Capsule Computers Indie Bundle. It’s an exquisite assortment of 11 brilliant and truly indie offerings everyone can enjoy for the most reasonable price of “pay-what-you-want”!

History

The Cerebral Bundle is the fifth bundle by Bundle In A Box following the succesful Adventure, Deep Space, Cerebral and Eclectic Delights bundles. Also, bundle! And proper indie games! For cheap!

Features

  • 11 brilliant DRM-free indie games (and extras) for the price of your choice; 7 as a pay-what-you-want offering, four more if you beat the average price.
  • Super Tower Rush (Windows/Desura): frantic and gloriously pixel-arted arcade platformer.
  • Hacker Evolution Untold (Windows/Linux/Mac/Steam/Desura): deep, sci-fi, hacking simulation.
  • Pixelry (Windows/Desura). Experience the artful cruelty jousting!
  • All four Blackwell ghostly adventure games! (Windows/Steam)
  • Hamlet or the Last Game without MMORPG Features, Shaders and Product Placement (Steam).
  • Hacker Evolution Duality (Windows/Mac/Linux/Steam/Desura): dystopian, sci-fi, open world hacking.
  • The original and highly moddable Hacker Evolution(Windows/Steam/Desura).
  • Secret of the Magic Crystals (Windows/Mac/Steam): horse breed and race with the best of them.
  • Eclectic selection of to-be-unlocked extras including soundtracks, wallpapers and artwork.
  • Exclusive content for the forthcoming Droidscape: Basilica mobile game.
  • The top 3 contributors will win a Collector’s Edition mouse and mouse pad by Razer worth $110 each.
  • Support a charity that is actually important: The Australian Red Cross.
  • Support indie devs directly via the Indie Dev Grant. 15$ go to the grant for every 100 bundles sold.

Videos

Super Tower Rush YouTube

Hacker Evolution Untold YouTube

Pixelry YouTube

Blackwell Trilogy YouTube

Blackwell Deception YouTube

Hamlet YouTube

Hacker Evolution Duality YouTube

Secret of the Magic Crystals YouTube

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Bad names for Video Games.

by on May.07, 2013, under Amiga, Retro, Short updates

Being deliberately inflammatory isn’t something I’d want to do (I’ll save that for my upcoming political/historical blog). With recent tragedies, constant news coverage and a nation beside itself with grief, something jogged my memory.

There was an old game I would see from time to time in my various Amiga magazines and it had an unfortunate name. It was a puzzle game featuring strange old men and moving tables. I think you had to get an explosive from one side of the table to an exit. Even for 1991, this wasn’t a new type of puzzle game and it is like Pipe Mania. More recently, this style of puzzler was copied by the Bioshock hacking mini game.

It is the name of this little game that got my attention.

Boston Bomb Club

I doubt the fine people at Silmarils could have predicted how unfortunate this name would be, twenty two years down the road. You live and learn I suppose. Silmarils would go on to make the excellent and beautiful Ishar series of RPGs. Cumbersome interface on those games though.

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Legend of Grimrock: Sequel and retrospective

by on Mar.05, 2013, under Modern, PC, Short updates

Totally Dead!Last year, I got heavily into Legend of Grimrock, a grid based fantasy RPG. The game borrowed heavily on the styles of Eye of the Beholder and Dungeon Master and did much to modernise the genre. Just this week, Grimrock creators Almost Human Games announced that they are working on a sequel! I thought I put close to fifty hours into Legend of Grimrock… oh I checked Steam and it says I only spent twenty six hours. Ah how the memory cheats. Little has been released about the sequel so far, but they did prefer a full sequel to simply making some extra content for the original game.

Sequel excitement aside, I was disappointed how some of the reviews treated the original Grimrock. Not wanting to get into any sort of fanboy spasm, it seemed clear that certain 2012-04-14_00001reviewers (PC Gamer magazine) hadn’t played all of the game. Since Grimrock uses a grid system and semi turn-based combat, it is easy to exploit. Perhaps it was just my experience, but being able to move around the enemies later in the game is vital to your survival, not a cheap tactic to make the game easier. Still, the rest of the review was fair and they gave it an 80. Edge, of course, gave it a 7/10 like they do for anything niche. Do they even like games at Edge?

My own thoughts on Grimrock? It was a great update and ‘love letter’ to Eye of the Beholder, while being far more tricky and devious than that series could have hoped to be. Twenty years of technological advances have clearly seen progress in the ‘deviousity’ department! The combat lulls you into a false sense of security in the early parts of the game with easy encounters. The level design and variation among the enemies mean you often end up second guessing yourself.

I don’t want to review Grimrock, since it is close to a year old. I will say that it reminded me of how good it is to revisit the classics. Even so, I think they will be well served by making the sequel a bigger departure from the original games. Overworld maps, I’m looking in your direction. Whatever Almost Human do, I’m sure it’ll be tops.

 

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Mining + Crafting =

by on Feb.28, 2013, under Hobbies, Modern, PC, Short updates

Vast responsibility is yours, when you host a Minecraft server…
You just have to hold off filling people’s houses with TNT and setting traps around their farms. So far, I have stopped myself from being such a tyrant.

Here is a small sample of the world I have created.

My partner in crime

 

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Hong Kong Dreamin’

by on Jan.27, 2013, under PC, Short updates

I find myself easily drawn into video games. Not so much the story or the characters, but locations. Almost any game set in a real world location makes me want to visit there. Tropico 3 and 4 both drew me into the idea of visiting the Caribbean, corrupt governments and guerrilla warfare aside. I think it was the lure of cheap rum that got me hooked.

Similarly, Sleeping Dogs has got me interested in visiting Hong Kong. Pork Buns, knock off electronics and sick dragon tattoos are all an attractive proposition. The cops seem cool too, short hair lady cop as well as super suss English guy. The movie of this game would need Alan Rickman. Regardless, Hong Kong looks like some crazy fun. Honestly I want to go to a place that isn’t flooded with Australians, like Thailand and Bali are. A foreign holiday has to have foreign people 🙂

On the flip side of this realisation Grand Theft Auto games do NOT entice me to their respective cities. Not just for the crime rates and chance of being run over, but for the completely random police response rates. Vice City in GTA 1 made you  FBI most wanted for running a red light, whereas Liberty City you could run down a whole train of the Hare Krishna and no one would bat an eye lid.

Consistency Please!

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