[ Retro Scan of the Week ] 32X Through the Keyhole

May 20th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Sega 32X Genesis Electronic Gaming Monthly ad - 1994Surely you have newer locks in your house.

I bought a Sega 32X for $30 new in 1995 or '96 at Toys"R"Us. They were on clearance because nobody wanted them. (I also bought a Virtual Boy for $30 this way around the same time.) There were good reasons why no one wanted them: chiefly, because better machines like the PlayStation and Saturn were out there, and most games for the 32X weren't very good.

Still, I have a soft spot for this system. It touches some fundamental nerdy part of me that likes convoluted electronic expansion modules — it means more to collect, and more to mess with. I have a bunch of 32X games, perhaps even half of the entire library for that system, but I rarely play any of them. I seem to recall the Star Wars Arcade title being pretty good for it. Virtua Racing wasn't half bad either.

By the way, the only explanation I can muster for the inclusion of the keyhole in the ad above is that it's some sort of sexual metaphor, much like those found in Sega's other 32X ads at the time (See "The Sega Mating Game," Retro Scan of the Week, 2008). In other words, I guess we're spying on a Genesis and a 32X having electronic intercourse.

[ From Electronic Gaming Monthly, November 1994, p.180 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: In an alternate universe where there was no Sega Saturn, do you think the 32X could have held its own against the competition for a few years?

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

[ Retro GIF of the Week ] The Empire Strikes Back

December 3rd, 2012 by Benj Edwards

Star Wars AT-AT Empire Strikes Back Retro GIF - circa 1988Click to see other views of this image: [ Original Size ] [ 2X Zoom ]

The Empire Strikes Back is one of my favorite films of all time, so I have always cherished this particular image that someone uploaded to my BBS in the early 1990s. It depicts two AT-ATs walking through the snow in a scene recalling the Battle of Hoth from the 1980 film.

Its 16-color 640×400 format suggests a few possibilities as to its origin platform. IBM's little-used MCGA standard (introduced in 1987) could do 640×400 at 16 colors, and so could a few "extended EGA" graphics cards on the IBM PC platform.

But so could the Amiga — in fact, 640×400 at 16 colors was its original high-end graphics mode. Since many early GIF files originated in the graphically rich culture of the Amiga (a machine well-known for its graphics capabilities), and since this file is dated 1988, and since MCGA adapters were scarce, I'd say this image most likely originated on the Amiga platform.

[ Update: 11/04/2012 - Since I originally wrote this, I've realized that this AT-AT image uses a 12-bit (4096) color palette (from that palette the artist could use 16 colors on screen at a time), which was unique to the Amiga platform. So this image definitely originated on an Amiga. ]

By the way, this image is actually signed by the artist. You can see a small "BMW" in the lower right corner (and we're not talking about the German car company here). If anyone knows who BMW is, please leave a comment. That would be fascinating to find out.

[ Wondering what a GIF is? Read the introduction to this column. ]

Retro GIF of the Week Fact Box
Source File Name: ATAT.GIF
Source File Date: June 26, 1988
Source File Format: GIF - 87a (non-interlaced)
Dimensions: 640 x 400 pixels
Color Depth: 4-bit (16 color), 12-bit palette (4096 colors)
Origin Platform: Amiga
Derived From: Unknown
Creation Date: circa 1988
Artist: BMW
If you know more about the origin of this image, please leave a comment.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,