Archive for the 'Retrogaming' Category

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Genesis Does Contractions

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Sega Genesis advertisement Genesis Does What Nintendon't advertisement - 1991Before the Sega Scream, there was the Sega Insult

This is a rather famous early ad for the Sega Genesis that I have never featured until now. It played upon the dramatic graphical differences between the Genesis and the NES, claiming "Genesis Does What Nintendon't."

It's worth emphasizing that Sega is comparing its console to the 8-bit NES here, and not the Super NES — Nintendo's 16-bit machine had not yet been released in the US, allowing Sega to get a jump on the next generation in the American market.

[ From Video Games & Computer Entertainment, January 1991, p.50-51]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What year did you first get a Sega Genesis? What were your first games for it?

Musician Shooter Jennings Launches New BBS Door Game

Monday, September 28th, 2015

[ After hearing exciting news about a new BBS door game, I invited BBS door historian Josh Renaud of Break Into Chat to write up a post about it for VC&G. — Benj]

My name is Josh Renaud, and I run a BBS wiki and retrocomputing blog called "Break Into Chat." I love old BBS door games, and I'm also fascinated by the ways today's sysops are doing new things with old technology.

I'm here to tell you about a new BBS door game launching today. Its author is none other than Shooter Jennings, son of country music legend Waylon Jennings.

Shooter's new game is called From Here to Eternity, and for the last several weeks, he has been beta-testing it on his BBS, which is called "Bit Sunrise."

I first encountered Jennings when I came across his question on Reddit's /r/bbs: "If I made a door game for money would you play it?"

I'm not into country music, so the username "ShooterJennings" didn't mean anything to me. But his question grabbed my attention. I wanted to know what he had in mind. A "freemium" pay-to-play model? A registration fee for sysops like the old days? No. Jennings wanted users to pay a small fee to join his game. Then they would compete to win a jackpot.

We had some back and forth. He told me he had come across Break Into Chat, and had been blown away by one of my ANSI game demos. So I looked him up. It was my turn to be blown away. Jennings has a successful music career. He's appeared in movies and on TV.

I wanted to know why he was spending time writing a new BBS door game, so I interviewed him at length about From Here to Eternity. Jennings explained how writing the game helped him through the loss of a close friend, and how important retrocomputing is to him (he started with an Apple IIe as a kid).

It's a fascinating story. And his game is pretty cool too.

To play it, you can access Bit Sunrise BBS and play the game over the web using a browser-based client at Or if you want a slightly more authentic experience, then fire up a terminal program like SyncTerm, and telnet to

In an email announcing the game's launch, Jennings promised that "the first player to pass through The Coil (the final gate) with all 20 artifacts will receive 1 Bitcoin (~$240) sent directly to their Bitcoin wallet!"

The game will last for 30 days, or until someone wins the game.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Pac-Attack

Monday, September 21st, 2015

Namco Pac-Attack Puzzle Game Super NES advertisement - 1993High on power pellets, Pac-Man seeks his next victim.

[ From Electronic Gaming Monthly, November 1993, p.207]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Excluding Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man, what is your favorite Pac-Man-themed video game?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] PlayStation Sampler CD

Monday, September 7th, 2015

Sony PlayStation 1 PSX PS1 Interactive CD Sampler Pack Volume Three 3 CD case cover sleeve - 1996That is one intense swirl, man

Twenty years ago this week, Sony released the PlayStation in the United States — on 9/9/95, in fact.

The first time I remember seeing a PlayStation in person was a demo unit at my local Blockbuster video rental store. At first they had a single kiosk playing Battle Arena Toshinden. A few months later, they upgraded to a new kiosk with a trio of PlayStations arranged in an outwardly-facing triangle formation (if that makes any sense), with each running a different playable demo. I think that two of the three games were Battle Arena Toshinden and Twisted Metal. The third escapes me.

I rented a complete PlayStation system from that Blockbuster not long after it came out, along with two games: Loaded and Twisted Metal. I had read in a positive review in EGM that Loaded incorporated Gauntlet-like elements — overall, I was not too impressed with its gritty atmosphere or gameplay. But I did enjoy putting the Loaded CD in my computer's CD-ROM drive finding that it had a compatible file system on it, and that I could take a peek at the game's file structure. (Although that was irrelevant to gameplay, it raised the system's cool factor in my young tinkerer mind.)

Twisted Metal was a blast. I loved that game. I remember playing as Hammerhead (the monster truck) and running over everybody repeatedly. There is fun in digital mayhem.

In 1996, my brother's best friend bought a PlayStation and Twisted Metal 2 (released Oct 1996), and he brought it over to our house to play with us a few times. We loved it. After that, we knew we had to have one. In my mind, Twisted Metal 2 was the system's killer app — until Symphony of the Night came out, of course.

(I also rented a Nintendo 64 from Blockbuster in 1996, but I didn't buy one of those until summer 1997. Speaking of renting systems, I also rented a Virtual Boy from Blockbuster in 1995. I write all this down for my benefit as much as yours, so I can try to keep all this history straight.)

So after asking kindly to our parents, my brother and I got our PlayStation as a joint Christmas present in 1996. I was 15; my brother was 20. Having gone through prior console phases with the Atari 2600 (and 800, which we treated like a console), NES, TG-16, Super NES, and Jaguar, we felt like we were growing up along with the video game industry.

The scan you see above is the front and back of the sleeve of the sampler CD that came packed in with our new PS1 in 1996 (titled "Interactive CD Sampler Pack Volume Three"). I would have scanned the disc as well, but I seem to have separated it from this sleeve — maybe I put it in a jewel case long ago. I know I still have it somewhere.

[ From PlayStation Interactive CD Sampler Pack - Volume 3, ca. 1996]

Discussion Topic of the Week: When did you get your first PlayStation 1? What were your favorite games for it?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Windows 95 Gaming

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Pitfall Mayan Adventure Windows 95 PC Game advertisement - 1995If swinging on vines was a good idea, everybody would do it

20 years ago today, Microsoft released Windows 95, the GUI-based operating system that launched Microsoft as a commercial Juggernaut into the mainstream consciousness. That's because Windows 95 was accompanied by what was likely the largest marketing push for an OS to date (no sources cited, just my brain), and it created a minor media frenzy. People actually lined up to buy Windows 95.

Windows 95 initiated a new epoch in PC gaming, courtesy of the then-completely new DirectX system of gaming APIs. DirectX made it easy for developers to create powerful, hardware hungry games that ran natively (and smoothly, CPU permitting) on Windows. (Windows nerds will recall that it followed up on the similar, if under-utilized, WinG API for Windows 3.11.)

The very first third-party Windows 95 game ever released commercially (to my knowledge — at least, it was promoted this way) was Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure, a 1990s reboot of the classic Atari 2600-era platformer Pitfall!. Here is an ad for that game around the time of its debut in August 1995.

That being said, while I am a fan of Pitfall! and Pitfall II, I have never liked The Mayan Adventure. Seems too hard and not fun. Of course, your mileage may vary.

[ From Computer Gaming World, September 1995, p.117]

Discussion Topic of the Week: How did you feel about Windows 95 when it came out? Did you upgrade?

Virtual Boy Turns 20

Friday, August 21st, 2015

Virtual Boy on a Swing

Nintendo released the Virtual Boy 20 years ago today in North America (on August 21, 1995). I wrote an article about the creation of the Virtual Boy for FastCompany, which was just published today.

I hope you enjoy it.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Wordtris

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Spectrum HoloByte Wordtris Game Boy Super NES advertisement - 1992How Video Games Are Designed

[ From VG&CE, November 1992, p.59]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite Tetris spin-off game?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Air Zonk

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Air Zonk TTI TurboGrafx-16 TurboDuo Bonk in Space Shooter advertisement - 1992The 4-inch Michael Jordan

I remember seeing a playable demo of Air Zonk in my local Toys 'R' Us around the time it came out (probably early 1993). I remember it being marketed as a pack-in for the TurboDuo. Upon playing the demo, my first thought was along the lines of: "Wow, the TurboGrafx-16 is still around? They must be desperate."

(For those of you who don't know, my brother and I took the TG-16 plunge circa 1990 or 1991.)

By 1993, the SNES and Genesis were in full force — I owned a SNES and enjoyed it quite a bit. I was deep into Street Fighter II fever at that point. I drooled over the TurboDuo when it came out, though, and I always had a soft spot for the TG-16.

My second about Air Zonk was, "Hmm, this game isn't very good." So I released the controller and didn't play it again until perhaps 20 years later on an emulator. I still don't like it very much.

[ From VG&CE, November 1992, p.46]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Which do you like better: Air Zonk or Bonk's Adventure?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Retro Re-Releases

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Bubble Bobble Also Featuring Rainbow Islands PlayStation PS1 PSX MS-DOS advertisement - 1996"100% Rendered Black Void" — I like the humor in this ad

In the mid-1990s, much to my delight, game publishers began remaking and re-releasing classic games of the 1970s and 1980s in collections on Mac, PC, and consoles. You remember — I'm talking about titles such as Microsoft Arcade (1993), Atari 2600 Action Pack (1995), the Namco Museum series (1995-1998), Arcade Classic No. 1: Asteroids / Missile Command (1995), Williams Arcade's Greatest Hits (1996). Even Super Mario All-Stars (1993) counts to some extent.

That happened to be around the same time I started collecting old video game and computer systems, roughly in 1993, so I was happy that the industry seemed to be rediscovering these "forgotten" classics.

The awkwardly titled Bubble Bubble Also Featuring Rainbow Islands falls into the same category, being a re-release of the arcade version of Bubble Bobble and its sequel Rainbow Islands on PlayStation 1 and MS-DOS.

[ From GamePro, October 1996, p.5]

Discussion Topic of the Week: In your opinion, what are some of the best executed game retro remakes and re-releases?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] APF Imagination Machine

Monday, July 13th, 2015

APF Imagination Machine APF-M1000 computer advertisement - 1980I'm not sure I'm ready to take such a big step, APF.

I once did a slideshow of game console-to-computer upgrades, and the APF Imagination Machine figured prominently in the list. That's because it was a combination of the APF-M1000 home video game system and the "IM-1," which was a large keyboard/speaker dock with a built-in cassette tape player (for program storage and retrieval).

What an odd machine. To my knowledge, the M1000 was the only video game system based on the Motorola 6800 CPU, which is one of the grand-daddies in the microprocessor world (first released in 1974).

While neither the console nor the computer fared well commercially, this distinctive advertisement leaves a positive impression. It was brilliantly playful and colorful for a computer ad of the time (1979; this particular scan of the ad comes from 1980).

[ From BYTE Magazine, July 1980, p.43]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Best console add-on of all time?