Discussion Topic of the Week: Other than Civilization, what is the best MicroProse title of the 1980s and 1990s?
I love retro line art diagrams; this one has to be one of the best.
These two pages from the US Super Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt instruction manual (you can see both pages if you click on the image above — the small two dots in the middle are holes for a staple) illustrate the proper way to plug the Zapper light gun into your "Nintendo Entertainment System Control Deck."
Much fun can be had from doing that, of course — although I spent many hours in my youth cursing the laughing dog. My dad was first in our family to try to shoot the canine as he giggled at our Duck Hunting failure. Sadly, you can't.
NES Action Set Release Date
By the way, I've seen some sources say that the NES Action set, which first debuted the combo SMB/Duck Hunt cartridge, saw its first US release in November 1988. That is definitely not true, because my brother first got an Action Set for his birthday in June 1988.
Seeking to clarify this, I just did a newspaper archive search and found mention of the "Just Arrived" NES Action set in the April 14, 1988 edition of the Ukiah Daily Journal (from Ukiah, CA, of all places). That means the Action Set was available as early as April 1988.
So take dates you see on the Internet with a grain of salt unless they are coupled with a strong source (or better yet, collection of sources) behind them.
Discussion Topic of the Week: In your opinion, what's the best Zapper game for the NES?
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.
Discussion Topic of the Week: Did you ever buy a game based on graphics alone — then come to regret it later?
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.
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.
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)?
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever fired a gun in real life? Do any video games successfully replicate that experience?
Discussion Topic of the Week: When's the last time you used an Atari ST series computer? What did you run on it?
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.
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.
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.
(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."
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.
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever played a video game with your entire immediate family rapturously engaged in the action on screen?
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.
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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