[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Lure of Game Graphics

October 21st, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Microdeal Leatherneck Tanglewood Atari ST 1040ST computer games - 1988Microdeal's Leatherneck and Tanglewood for the Atari ST

I've never played either of these Atari ST games by Microdeal, but they look like fun. "Look" being the operative word. That's because, as we all know, a screenshot alone is a poor judge of a game.

In fact, I recall being burned by screenshots many times back in the day. While browsing at Babbage's or Software Etc. (former software retail chains), my brother and I would flip over various game boxes and ogle amazing, colorful in-game shots that would make us want to buy everything on the shelf.

If we did buy a game, we'd rush home and load it up. Nine times out of ten, those glorious box screenshots turned out to be the only pretty graphical scenes (often static) in the game. Or — even worse — the screenshots were from the uber-colorful Amiga / VGA / etc. version when in fact we were buying the Apple II version of the game (or we only had an EGA graphics card). Doh.

[ From STart, Summer 1988, rear cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Did you ever buy a game based on graphics alone — then come to regret it later?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Mac in Dad's Office

September 30th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

A Macintosh SE in my dad's home office - 1988A Macintosh SE sits in the home office of Benj's father, March 20th, 1988

My father bought the Macintosh SE you see in this photo pretty soon after it came out in 1987. It proved to be a key tool in launching his business the following year. His company's logo, sales literature, and product manuals were all designed on it. It was an amazing upgrade over a DOS-based PC.

Naturally, my brother and I immediately started to use the SE to play games. We had access to very few titles, though — we played Shadowgate, Dungeon of Doom, Silent Service, and that's about it. I was always disappointed with the Mac's lack of color, but the sharpness and resolution of its display were hard to beat at the time. And the sound was amazing too. The evil laugh in the beginning of Shadowgate still rings clear in my memory.

The SE pictured in this photo remains in my collection to this day, and I boot it up from time to tinker with it. Perhaps I should fire it up again today in honor of my dad.

Discussion Topic of the Week: Did you ever use a computer in one of your parents' offices? Tell us about it.

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Atari ST Christmas Catalog

December 24th, 2012 by Benj Edwards

BRE Software's Atari ST Public Domain Software Christmas '88 Update - 1988BRE Software's Atari ST Public Domain Software Christmas '88 Update

I found this neat holiday-themed BRE Software Atari ST catalog in a pile of documents that I received from my wife's uncle when he gave me his Atari ST collection a few years ago. It features both public domain and commercial software for Atari's 16-bit computer series.

(I wish I could get my hands on the Christmas demo disks mentioned on this page. Only $4.00 each or $9.95 for all four.)

The entire document is four pages long, and I've scanned the whole thing so you can download it in PDF format, complete with searchable text.

Merry Christmas from VC&G.

[ From BRE Software's Atari ST Christmas '88 Update, 1988, p.1 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever given a vintage computer or video game-related present to someone for Christmas (not when it was new, but when it was vintage/retro)?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Gun.Smoke

September 24th, 2012 by Benj Edwards

Gun.Smoke Gunsmoke Ad Nintendo Fun Club News - 1988Guns don't kill people. My grimy hands do.

[ From Nintendo Fun Club News, April-May 1988, p.13 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever fired a gun in real life? Do any video games successfully replicate that experience?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] An Analog Christmas

December 19th, 2011 by Benj Edwards

Analog Computing Atari ST Dungeonlords Stocking Christmas Magazine Cover - 1988Santa has little respect for floppy disks, shoving them in there without sleeves.

[ From ANALOG Computing, December 1988, front cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: When's the last time you used an Atari ST series computer? What did you run on it?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] ICD Atari ST Hard Drive

January 10th, 2011 by Benj Edwards

ICD FA-ST FAST FA20ST Hard Drive for Atari ST 1040ST Ad - 1988"Refresh Your Memory. And Keep Your Cool."

I recently ran across this ad for the ICD FA-ST Atari ST hard drive system in a 1988 issue of STart magazine that my wife's uncle gave me. He was quite an ST fan himself back in the day, and I was the lucky recipient of his ST collection last year.

According to an ICD catalog I have, the 20 megabyte model of this HD system (the FA20ST, seen here) retailed for US $699.95 in 1988 ($1,294.60 in 2010 dollars). The highest end model( FA52ST), which included two 50 megabyte drives, sold for $1649.95 (or $3,051.68 in 2010 dollars).

Those steep prices (common for all hard disks at the time), along with the small market size of Atari 16-bit owners in the US, made drives such as these quite rare. I've never seen one in the wild.

[ From STart, Summer 1988, p.9 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you own hard drive systems for any of your vintage, non-IBM PC compatible computers? Tell us about them.

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The NES Action Set Family

November 23rd, 2009 by Benj Edwards

Nintendo Entertainment System NES Action Set Box Family - 1988The Euro-American family in its native habitat.

Just in time for Thanksgiving — and the ritual practice of family togetherness — comes this wonderful vintage photo from the back of the NES Action Set box. In it, we see a four-person white American nuclear family utterly consumed by a game of Super Mario Bros.

This scene looks nice at first glance, but imagine having to play through a whole game with mom and dad hanging off of your shoulders.

"Hey son."

(Father gets in close, whispering into son's ear.)

"Want to play some Super Mario Brothers?"

"I'm already playing, Dad."

(Father squeezes son's shoulder tighter.)

"My uncle's name is Mario."

Nintendo Entertainment System NES Action Set Box Family - 1988

Luckily, the scenario I've concocted above appears nowhere on the box. Still, a few amusing things about this photo jump out at me:

  • Mario is gleefully flying to his death.
  • The family apparently owns two copies of Super Mario Bros. because one is on the table, and they're playing one in the NES.
  • The two kids are both playing a one player game at the same time. Or maybe the older brother (player 1) on the right is screwing up the little brother's game by hitting pause at random intervals.
  • The mother and the son on the right aren't looking at the TV set. Actually, I don't think any of them are.

I've included an extra-large scan this time (when you click on the image), so you might be able to turn it into a desktop background.

For more vintage family madness, check out my latest slideshow on Technologizer.

Happy Thanksgiving!

[ From Nintendo Entertainment System Action Set Box (reverse), 1988 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever played a video game with your entire immediate family rapturously engaged in the action on screen?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] CompuServe Borg Cube

March 2nd, 2009 by Benj Edwards

CompuServe Ad - 1988Resistance is futile. (click for full advertisement)

Long-time readers of VC&G may recall me talking about my adventures on CompuServe from time to time. Needless to say, they never looked like this. But I did have a few nightmares featuring enormous floating hive-mind spaceships hooked up to my computer when I was 12.

On second thought, maybe this thing is the machine God uses to create snow — if snow indeed exists.

[ From Compute's Gazette for Commodore Users, December 1988 ]

Discussion topic of the week: Star Trek or Star Wars? Better yet: Han Solo vs. William T. Riker in a knife fight — who would win?

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