Archive for December, 2006

The Top Ten Most Popular VC&G Articles of 2006

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

Vintage Computing and Gaming LogoHello, friends. It's New Year's time once again, and by this point, you've probably been bombarded by year-end reviews and retrospectives on dozens of other websites and blogs. While typically not one to follow the trend, I just couldn't resist throwing another log on the fire of your journalistic discontent.

Ok, so I'm exaggerating as always! I've actually assembled this list because I thought you might enjoy looking over some of our past "hits," especially in case you missed any. Also, I wanted to prove to myself that I actually did something with my life this year besides meticulously pick up an enormous scattered pile of foam packing peanuts from my back yard. The following is a list of the top ten most viewed articles that were published on VC&G in the year 2006. I hope you enjoy it.

Have a happy New Year — I'll see you in 2007!

[ Continue reading The Top Ten Most Popular VC&G Articles of 2006 » ]

Retro Scan of the Week: A Very TRS-80 Christmas

Monday, December 25th, 2006

TRS-80 Color Computer Christmas Advertisement

The TRS-80 Color Computer (CoCo), as seen in this 1982 ad, has a special place in my heart because it was one of the first old computers I obtained when I started collecting them thirteen years ago. A family friend heard about my new hobby and donated the machine to me, complete with a disk drive and some cartridges. I had lots of fun learning the machine's particular brand of BASIC (I still maintain that the BASIC manual for the TRS-80 CoCo 1 is one of the best computer manuals ever created).

I also had a blast playing with the CoCo's Audio Spectrum Analyzer cartridge, which lets you graphically view an audio frequency spectrum through input from the machine's cassette jack. It had a really neat kaleidescope mode that was a lot like "visualizers" on MP3 player software these days. I spent hours MUSHing (not on the CoCo, of course, but on a PC) while listening to classic rock on the radio, all while the kaleidescope effects from the music played out on a RGB monitor beside me. Good times.

Strangely enough, the distinctive chiclet keyboard on the CoCo 1 never bothered me at all — it is probably the most usable and comfortable chiclet keyboard out there. And knowing chiclet keyboards, that's saying a lot. All in all, the CoCo was a great little machine. Did anybody else out there have one?

Oh, and Merry Christmas!

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What's the Best Christmas Present You've Ever Received?

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

Best Xmas EverAmong those who celebrate it, Christmas is often remembered as a magical time full of joy, excitement, and anticipation. It all goes back to when we were kids and we begged our parents all year long to buy us something we wanted so badly, but they resisted because the item usually cost over $20. We typically lost all hope of ever getting the item until Christmas rolled around. That was the only time of year that you could ever get that one mythical item, usually courtesy of Santa Claus.

Let's talk presents. Since this site is called Vintage Computing and Gaming, I'm limiting the discussion to those items relevant to the site. I'll give you some examples of VC&G-related presents I received when I was younger, then I'd like to hear about some of your favorite VC&G-related Christmas memories.

Castlevania IIISome of the greatest computer-related Christmas presents I've received throughout the years include a Prodigy sign-up kit and membership (Man, I wanted that so bad. It was in my early BBS days), a 14.4 kbps modem (which was bad-ass at the time), a SoundBlaster Pro (our first sound card ever), and our family's first CD-ROM drive and some software on CD-ROM. Some of my favorite video game presents have been Mega Man 3 and Castlevania III (my brother and I received them in the same year, which was incredibly exciting at the time) and our first PlayStation with a copy of Twisted Metal 2. My brother typically received various PC games over the years, like Shogun, Planet's Edge, Thexder, Wasteland, Silpheed, Bard's Tale III, and more. I had a lot of fun watching him play them, of course, so they were like presents to me too.

So now it's your turn. Post some of your favorite computing- or gaming-related Christmas memories. Tell us about some of the best Christmas presents you've ever received. Just leave a comment on this entry, and don't be shy.

Thanks, and Merry Christmas from Vintage Computing and Gaming!

Name Those Pixels: Challenge #5

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

Pixel Challenge #5 - 1Can't get enough pixels, can ya? Merry Christmas, my pixel-loving friends! This week I have a great challenge with a lot of diversity for you to chew on. Here's a hint: The pixel blocks are from three different game machines — one of which is actually a computer. And yes, that is indeed pixelated cleavage. As always, post your guesses in the comments section of this entry, and don't be bashful. Good luck!

Pixel Challenge #5 - 2    Pixel Challenge #5 - 3

The answers to last week's challenge are after the break.

[ Continue reading Name Those Pixels: Challenge #5 » ]

Retro Scan of the Week: Christmas 1983 Challenge

Monday, December 18th, 2006
Electronic Games December 1983 Cover
Straight from the cover of the December 1983 issue of Electronic Games comes this bountiful bunch of Christmas game goodies. There's lots of stuff crammed in here — video game cartridge "multiplexers," joysticks and joystick accessories, a classic Commodore monitor, a special video game desk, an infamous robot, and even some handheld Nintendo products!

So, how many products in this picture can you name?

Whomever names the most specific product models that appear in the picture above gets to be VC&G's 2006 Game Elf of the Year!

Ok, so I just made that up. Still, give it your best shot in the comments below. Now, on to our next item:

Christmas 1983 Gift Guide

The two-page scan above is from EG's 1983 Christmas gift guide, in the same issue as the fist scan. You'll find lots of goodies here as well, but most are a repeat from the cover.

I actually own the ancient LaserDisc player featured on this page (lower left). My unit was manufactured in April 1981 and its operational laser is as big as a large can of spray paint! It's cool though; I'm planning on building a laser cannon out of it when I get the time. Funnily enough, the equivalent laser these days is probably about half the size of your (yes, I'm talking to you, Gordo!) thumb.

[ Special thanks to McPhail Hunt for donating this issue. ]

If you use these images on your site, please support "Retro Scan of the Week" by giving us obvious credit for the original scan and entry. Thanks. You guys is some serious pals.

Name Those Pixels: Challenge #4

Friday, December 15th, 2006

Pixel Challenge #4 - 1Hey there, folks. Welcome back to Name Those Pixels! Unfortunately, mgroves has gone AWOL on me this week, so it's RedWolf here filling in.

Are you ready for the next challenge? Last week was pretty easy, so I decided to make this week a tad bit tougher. As a tiny hint, two of the pixel blocks are from the NES, and one is from a SNES game. The first one is on the right, and the other two are down below. As always, post your guesses in the comments section of this entry, and don't be bashful. Good luck!

Pixel Challenge #3 - 2    Pixel Challenge #3 - 3

Last Week's Answers

Unfortunately, I don't have the pictures of last week's answers, since mgroves was the one who captured them and he hasn't sent the full shots or the answers to me. But I do know at least two out of three of the answers. Item #1 was Barnstorming (Atari 2600), Item #2 was a Mega Man game (not sure which one, because I don't have the original shot), and Item #3 was Earthbound (SNES).

Hacksterpiece Theatre: Luigi vs. Mario (Mario Adventure 2)

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

VC&G's Hacksterpiece Theatre[ Hacksterpiece Theatre is a regular column devoted to fun, odd, and interesting retro game hacks. ]

Ever since DahrkDaiz released Mario Adventure over two years ago, fans of the NES hack masterpiece have been ravenously hungry for a sequel. After my coverage of Mario Adventure earlier this year brought the hack back into the public eye, DD and I planned a full-scale release of Mario Adventure 2 on VC&G when it was complete. He sent me a demo version back in March, and as much as I wanted to show it off, I decided to hold off until DD completed the project. Unfortunately, that hold became indefinite as DahrkDaiz abandoned work on Mario Adventure 2 over six months ago and has since moved on to other things. It seemed that the sequel that everyone was waiting for would never see the light of day.

Luigi vs. Mario Title ScreenFast forward to this month: fans of his work have been so persistent in pestering Mr. Daiz about when Mario Adventure 2 would come out that he finally publicly released the incomplete version last week on Acmlm's Board. Now that the cat's out of the bag, I guess it's safe to take a look at DahrkDaiz's masterful, but incomplete sequel to the beloved Mario Adventure.

But wait a minute: Where did all this "Luigi vs. Mario" business come from?

Identity Crisis

Luigi vs. Mario Panda SuitSome of you may be confused by the names I'm throwing around here. The hack featured in this article started out as "Luigi vs. Mario," but at some point DahrkDaiz decided to use it as the basis of Mario Adventure 2 (likely after seeing the incredible explosion of popularity caused by VC&G's article on Mario Adventure). From that point on, the hack had an instant identity crisis, because the main concept of Luigi vs. Mario was to have two complete games in parallel — a quest for Mario, and a separate quest for Luigi. That plot wasn't necessarily appropriate for a sequel to Mario Adventure, so DahrkDaiz began to change various aspects of Luigi vs. Mario to fit its new Mario Adventure 2 title. Luigi vs. Mario is an incredible feat of programming with tons of new features, and ironically, it might have been the incredible depth and ambition of those very features — and the confusion that resulted when he tried to force Luigi vs. Mario into the mold of Mario Adventure 2 — that made DahrkDaiz abandon it earlier this year.

Panda Suit, Anyone?

Luigi vs. Mario Mouser SuitThere are so many incredible new features, power-ups, levels, and elements in Luigi vs. Mario that I'm not quite sure where to begin. Personal highlights for me include the new Mouser and Panda suits. With the Mouser suit, you can throw Bob-ombs, ala Mouser in Super Mario Bros. 2, and with the Panda suit, you can walk upside down on the ceiling in some areas! It's really absolutely stunning what DahrkDaiz has managed to cram into this hack. Due to the incredible complexity and depth of this hack's new changes and addition, the game is probably best explained by the author himself. At the bottom of this article, I've reproduced the manual that DahrkDaiz created in HTML for Mario Adventure 2 / Luigi vs. Mario, which he sent me back in March 2006. I've edited it some and cleaned it up a lot, but otherwise the text remains all his. For now, though, you should get the hack and see it for yourself.

[ Continue reading Hacksterpiece Theatre: Luigi vs. Mario (Mario Adventure 2) » ]

Alan Shugart (1930-2006)

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Al Shugart 1930-2006In Memoriam: Alan Shugart (1930-2006), inventor of the floppy disk.

Ask RedWolf: Now Fielding Questions

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

Ask RedWolf LogoSoon after I started Vintage Computing and Gaming, I began to receive many unsolicited questions related to old computers or video games via email. I definitely don't mind being asked, and I always try my best to help whomever is asking the question. Sometimes people describe an old video game and ask me what the name is, sometimes people want to know more about a certain computer they once used but can't quite remember the model. Sometimes people just want to know some ideas for good multiplayer Atari 800 games.

With all these questions coming in, I figure, "Why not make it public?" so that my answers can benefit others who might be looking for similar information. I might not always know the answer, but with a little research, I typically know enough to pull together a good response. The oracle of infinite wisdom, I am not — but I will do my best to help.

Today, I am officially opening the "Ask RedWolf" email box for questions. Any question related to vintage computers or retrogaming will do. Question topics might include video game or computer history, my thoughts on an issue or topic, collecting tips, info on hardware, software, games, hacks, mods, emulators, people, accessories, or anything else you can think of that's related to vintage computing and gaming.

I will choose two or three questions each week to answer and feature in the "Ask RedWolf" column on VC&G. Keep in mind that I might not be able to privately respond to every email you send — depending on how popular this becomes — but I will try my best. Also, VC&G readers will be able to supplement my answers in the comments of each Ask RedWolf entry. Let the questions begin!

Please use the special email address in the link below to ask questions for the Ask RedWolf column only.

Have a Question for RedWolf? Click Here to Ask.

Retro Scan of the Week: Your Atari Christmas List

Monday, December 11th, 2006
Atari Christmas List
Dear Santa,

I would like Ms. Pac-Man, Centipede, Phoenix, Vanguard, Jungle Hunt, Kangaroo, Dig Dug, Galaxian, Pole Position, Battlezone, and Moon Patrol for Christmas. I would also like the ATARI 5200 ™ Super-System (The world's most advanced video game system), the ATARI 2600 ™ System (The world's most popular video game system), the ATARI 5200 TRAK-BALL ™ Controller (For the real arcade touch. Plays more TRAK-BALL ™ compatible games than anyone else), the ATARI VCS ™ Cartridge Adapter (Lets your 5200 play every game made for ATARI game systems), and the ATARI TRAK-BALL ™ Controller (For real arcade action on the ATARI 2600 ™ System, Sears Video Arcade System and all ATARI Home Computers).

That's all.

Sincerely,
Tommy L. Speddleman

P.S. Send me hardware and software, not underwear!

[ Scanned from Electronic Games, December 1983. Special thanks to McPhail Hunt for donating this issue. ]

If you use this image on your site, please support "Retro Scan of the Week" by giving us obvious credit for the original scan and entry. Thanks.