Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite boxing video game of all time?
My brother received the IBM PC port of Lemmings as a gift (probably for Christmas) in the early 1990s. It made a distinct impression in my young mind, with its vivid VGA graphics, a playful MIDI soundtrack, and charismatic little creatures that you could bid to do your every whim.
I have never played the Game Boy version, but this ad caught my eye.
When I wrote a feature about the most ported games of all time for 1UP.com back in 2007, Lemmings featured prominently with ports to 28 systems up to that point in time. What can I say — Lemmings is a classic.
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the best Lemmings-like or Lemmings clone game? (Other than Lemmings, of course — The Humans and Baldies come to mind.)
The box art for Game Boy's launch titles was brilliant. So distinctive, playful, and irresistible. Even though the games themselves were blurry messes on the original Game Boy screen, the art makes me want to go back and buy those games all over again.
Discussion Topic of the Week: How many items on this flyer do you own?
There is a certain irony to this pair of products by STD: one of them, the Handy Gear, makes your portable game console more rugged and less likely to break. The other, the Handy Boy, makes your console less rugged and more likely to break.
And both of them make you want to kill your friends, as this ad shows.
But seriously. One of my friends as a kid (who is amazingly still living) owned the Handy Boy accessory that snapped onto and around your Game Boy. The controller extension part looked cool but was useless and made playing games more difficult. But the magnifying glass and light were genuinely useful (especially the light part), since the Game Boy was notoriously difficult to play in low light conditions — which meant just about anywhere indoors.
By the way, long, long, long time readers of VC&G might remember that I lampooned this ad eight years ago in a column for GameSetWatch. But I just realized that I never featured it as a proper Retro Scan, so here it is.
Discussion Topic of the Week: Did you (or do you) own any notable Game Boy or Game Gear accessories? Tell us about them.
Despite what you may think, Newsbits is not dead. It just needs more fiber.
- The RetroN 5 Launching June 6th (Today!) in the US
Hope it works as advertised.
This thing is a beast, supporting NES, Famicom, SNES, Super Famicom, Genesis, Mega Drive, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and GBA cartridges. All of that, with 720p output via HDMI and original controller support.
- Wii U plugs first DS game into Virtual Console in Japan
Once upon a time, Nintendo frowned strongly upon emulation. Now its business model depends on it. Oh, how times have changed.
Puzzle-poser Brain Age is the first DS game to arrive on Wii U Virtual Console, and it's out now in Japan for free until June 30.
- Unearthed E.T. Atari games will be curated by New Mexico space museum and then sold
A unique situation where one of these games in unopened, mint condition could be worth far less than one crushed and buried in a landfill for 30 years.
Seven hundred of the 1,300 E.T. and other Atari cartridges recovered from a New Mexico landfill will be appraised, certified and put up for sale, the Alamogordo City Commission decided this week.
- The Verge Publishes Rarely-Seen Photos of Apple's 1980s Prototype Case Designs
(Source: The Verge)
Incredible photos of early 1980s Apple products that never were
Some of its earliest and most iconic designs, however, didn't actually come from inside of Apple, but from outside designers at Frog. In particular, credit goes to Frog's founder, Hartmut Esslinger, who was responsible for the 'Snow White' design language.
- Watching kids trying to figure out how to use an old Apple II is totally hilarious
(Source: Cult of Mac)
This video of children from the ages of 6 to 13 trying to figure out how to work a vintage Apple II … shows just how inexplicable computing was to pretty much everyone before Steve Jobs released the original Mac in 1984.
- Modder Stuffs a Raspberry Pi into a Game Boy Pocket
This is one of the most amazing mods I've ever seen
After sanding down the bosses on the inside of the case, gluing the battery door shut, and installing a bit of plastic over the cartridge slot, WarriorRocker was able to fit a Raspi inside. The buttons use the same PCB as the stock Game Boy, connected to a Teensy 2.0 board that simulates a USB keyboard.
- Exhibiting .gifs: An Interview with curator Jason Eppink
(Source: The Signal)
Wonder if they know about Retro GIF of the Week
Jason recently curated 'The Reaction GIF: Moving Image as Gesture,' which exhibits a set of GIFs he identified in consultation with redditors.
- Where Have You Gone, Peter Norton?
A look back at the PC utility guru's career by Harry McCracken at the newly-reborn Technologizer
Norton’s empire grew to include multiple software products, articles (including a long-running PC Magazine column), and books. He was everywhere that PCs were. And then, in 1990, he sold Peter Norton Computing to Symantec, which made the Norton line of software even more successful.
- Wolfenstein game graphics, 1992 vs 2014
A million more pixels, but the jaw remains the same
- The Most 90s Thing That Could Ever Exist
(Source: The Atlantic)
The zeitgeist summed perfectly in one technological artifact, which is a VHS tape promoting Windows 95, starring Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry.
- Total Chaos is the Best-Looking Doom II Mod You've Ever Seen
More like a "GZDoom mod," but still very impressive.
Total Chaos doesn’t run on the Doom 2 engine from 1993 proper, but a modified version of the original source code that brings in OpenGL, mouse looks and other features like 16x motion blur, high resolution textures, 3D models, and bloom effects.
- The Secret History of Hypertext
(Source: The Atlantic)
Historians of technology often cite Bush’s essay as the conceptual forerunner of the Web. And hypertext pioneers like Douglas Engelbart, Ted Nelson, and Tim Berners-Lee have all acknowledged their debt to Bush’s vision. But for all his lasting influence, Bush was not the first person to imagine something like the Web.
- The Woman Behind Apple's First Icons
…and Windows 3.0 to XP's Solitaire cards! (I did an interview with her about that once, gotta find it.)
For many, Susan Kare's icons were a first taste of human-computer interaction: they were approachable, friendly, and simple, much like the designer herself. Today, we recognize the little images — system-failure bomb, paintbrush, mini-stopwatch, dogcow — as old, pixelated friends.
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- See Atari's Buried Treasure: E.T. Among 30 Retro Games Unearthed In The Desert
I never thought I'd live to see the day
"The legend was true, but that's not all. Atari buried a lot of stuff back in 1983–and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
- Andy Warhol's Amiga Computer Art Found 30 Years Later
Always felt Amiga + Warhol was one of the more bizarre partnerships in computer history
"The Andy Warhol Museum has recovered a set of images, doodles, and photos created by the seminal pop artist on a Commodore Amiga home computer. The artworks, made by Warhol as part of a collaboration with Commodore Amiga, had been stranded on Amiga floppy disks for almost twenty years after the artist saved them in the mid-1980s.
- ICHEG Preserves Atari Coin-Op Divisions Collection
It gives me great mental relief to know someone is doing this so well and so thoroughly
"ICHEG has acquired a massive collection of materials chronicling the history of Atari's pioneering video arcade and pinball machine divisions from 1972 to 1999. The collection represents the largest and most comprehensive assemblage of archival records and other documentary items related to Atari's coin-operated games anywhere in the world.
- Bob Hoskins, Actor Who Played Mario, Dead at 71
Now both live-action Marios are gone
"Bob Hoskins, the pugnacious British actor known for playing gangsters, tough guys and working-class gentlemen in such films as 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit,' 'The Long Good Friday' and 'Mermaids,' has died, publicist Clair Dobbs said Wednesday.
- Fifty Years of BASIC, the Programming Language That Made Computers Personal
Harry McCracken's epic study of BASIC on its 50th
"Once upon a time, knowing how to use a computer was virtually synonymous with knowing how to program one. And the thing that made it possible was a programming language called BASIC.
- A Short History of BASIC, as Told in Animated GIFs
An animated supplement to McCracken's BASIC story above
"I used a neat program called Camtasia and some post-processing in Photoshop to create animated GIFs capturing what I saw as I loaded some significant BASIC programs, listed the code and then ran it.
- Sony Quietly Removes Ability to Download PSP/PS One Games Unlocked a Few Days Ago on PS Vita
An update to last week's Vita story
"A few days ago we reported about Sony suddenly unlocking a large amount of PSP games and PlayStation Classics for download and play on the PS Vita. Unfortunately its time to mourn, as that ability was quietly removed this morning. None of those games is available for download anymore.
- Atari Landfill Tweet from Scott Weinberg
"My generation buried those E.T. Atari cartridges for a reason. You're awakening something not even Lovecraft could imagine.
- Jim and Charlie Gerrie's Basic Game Programs and Other Software for the TRS-80 MC-10
The underrated MC-10 gets some programming love
- "Drunk Hunt" NES Cartridge Flask
"We wanted our product to look and feel exactly like the game cartridges we grew up with, and then BAM SUPRISE! it holds your favorite real-life health potion. Amiright? Amiright?
- A Game Boy That Looks Like It Could Survive Ten Thousand Years
Kotaku's Plunkett examines a neat Game Boy mod
"Vadu Amka's 'Brick' work turns an old Game Boy into a brick wall from the Zelda series.
- L.E.D. Zeppelin Photo
Amusing promotional tweet from Atmel
"And for their next hit, L.E.D. Zeppelin presents 'DI'Yer Maker!'
- BBEdit on System 6 on a Galaxy Note 3
Twitter user @bergmayer hooked up an original Mac mouse and keyboard too
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Crystal Quest on the Mac played like a space-based Robotron: 2084 controlled with the mouse, albeit with a loose trackball feel because your ship kept moving in the direction you nudged the mouse until you corrected its course. So I'm not sure how it played in this obscure Game Boy port from 1991. Perhaps I'll fire up an emulator right now and find out.
Discussion Topic of the Week: Can you think of any other game that started on the Macintosh then received a port to a Nintendo console?
- The New Age: Leaving Behind Everything, Or Nothing At All
A piece about digital legacies from NPR
"Perhaps in your attic or basement there is a box of papers — letters, photographs, cards, maybe even journals — inherited from a grandparent or other relative who's passed on. But what if that box isn't a box at all? What if it's an ancient laptop? And if we are starting to leave behind an increasingly digital inheritance, will it die as soon as the hard drive does?
- Nintendo Embraces NES History in its Twitter Marketing
I like this trend
"Its time for #SpringCleaning! Did you find any forgotten gems while organizing your Nintendo gaming collection?
- This 1981 Computer Magazine Cover Explains Why Were So Bad at Tech Predictions
This piece from Harry McCracken at TIME gives a hat tip to the greatest magazine illustrator of all time
"If you were passionate about personal computers between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, the odds were high that you were a reader of Byte magazine. And if you read Byte, you were surely a fan of Robert Tinney, the artist whose cover paintings were one of the magazine’s signature features for years.
- Solid Snake Pixel Art Graffiti
Whoever did this is free to vandalize my office wall
"Solid snake graff piece. I like the dude in the box. Nice touch…
- Make Your Very Own "Game Boy Macro"
Got a broken DS lying around? Chop off the top and you'll have a new system.
"i personally first saw it on kotaku made by Maarten, from the Bureau voor Gamers. so i decided i would make a couple of my own because i had some brokens DS's laying around. decided to go with Macro, since its like a GB micro but huge.
- Five Unemulated Computer Experiences
Jason Scott makes a point about emulation nitpickers
"While I and many others work to turn the experience of emulation into one as smooth and ubiquitous as possible, inevitably the corners and back alleys of discussions about this process present people claiming that there are unemulated aspects and therefore the entire project is doomed. I thought I would stoke that sad little fire by giving you five examples of entirely unemulated but perfectly valid vintage computer experiences.
- The Lost Ancestors of ASCII Art
Awesome piece I missed from January — by Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic
"The history of ASCII art goes deeper, and much of it is told only in Geocities blog postings, abandoned websites, Google Books, and scattered PDFs across the web This post traces a fascinating and mostly lost strand of that history: The way thousands and thousands of people made typewriter art, from amateurs to avant gardists.
- PabloDraw: A Modern ANSI Art Editor
We don't need no steenkin' TheDraw. (link via @blakespot)
"PabloDraw is an Ansi/Ascii text and RIPscrip vector graphic art editor/viewer with multi-user capabilities.
- An Early English-Language Image Diplay from a Computer, 1957
Dynamic text display on a CRT in 1957? Not bad.
"The screen of the picture tube shown will present as many as 10,000 characters per second. Each character is formed by an array of bright spots, a selection from a rectangular array of a total of 35 spots, five wide and seven deep. For a capital letter T, for example, the selection is five spots across the top and six more spots down through the middle…
- Pinterest Gallery of Ugly Computers
One of Blake Patterson's amazing Pinterest boards
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Ah, the Super Game Boy. What an enchanting peripheral it was. (I wrote about my feelings for it in eighth-ever RSOTW entry back in 2006.)
In case you missed it, the Super Game Boy was a special cartridge that let you play Game Boy games on the Super NES using a TV set and a SNES controller.
Around the time the Super Game Boy came out in Japan (1994 I believe), the always-amusing Hori released a special controller that partially simulated the look and the feel of the original Game Boy unit itself — right down to the speaker grille in the lower right corner. The resulting product, the SGB Commander, never saw the light of day in the US, but that didn't stop me from importing one about a half decade ago when they were on sale at NCSX for a very reasonable price.
As far as controllers go, the build is sturdy and responsive. It works as well as any decently-made controller with the Super Game Boy, although I'm not sure it was entirely necessary. For that reason it remains a very neat oddity in the history of game controllers.
By the way, here's what the back of the box looks like.
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite game to play with the Super Game Boy?
While sorting through my childhood papers and effects recently, I came across this amusing Christmas list from 1989. I was eight years old then, and I apparently ripped out pictures of the toys I wanted from weekly newspaper advertisements and pasted them on a sheet of 8.5″x 11″ wide-ruled notebook paper. The result was a rare illustrated Christmas list that I don't remember making before or since.
(I'm not sure why there is a big chunk of the page missing in the upper-right corner, by the way. Perhaps I changed my mind on some item and physically removed it from my list.)
What's notable for our purposes is the healthy contingent of video game related items on the list. There's a wireless remote for the NES, a Game Boy (which had just been released that year), and even a Sega Master System.