Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever bought a desk specifically to hold a computer?
The only problem? Everyone thought he was a computer.
Here is an excerpt of one of his conversations with a judge:
Judge: Hi, I'm Cathy.
Entity: CATHY! THE NAME OF A WOMANS.
Judge: Yes, I'm a woman.
Entity: WHAT IS A WOMANS, REALLY? BUT A MANS WITH THE UNSTOPPABLE THIRST FOR KRELBS.
Judge: Right. What is your name?
Entity: WHAT IS YOUR NAMES?
Judge: I'm Cathy, remember?
Entity: THAT IS NOT A REAL NAMES.
Judge: Yes, it is. At least where I come from. What is your name?
Entity: ULAF HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE NAMES ULAF IN UKRAINE, BUT FRIENDS CALL ULAF "ULAF" FOR SHORTS IN SVADLOST.
Judge: Nice name. Are you from either area?
Entity: THE AREA OF A TRIANGLES BECOMES THE HYPOTENUSE…ULAF FORGET.
Judge: Uh huh. How could you forget something so important?
Entity: NO, ULAF NOT IMPORTENT. ULAF HAVE AT LEAST 3.5 CHILDRENS (ONE HALF SIZED).
Judge: That's a very personal issue. What's your specialty?
Entity: ULAF FORGET TO ASK WHERE EITHER OF YOUR MINDS ARE FROM.
Judge: The universe and you?
Entity: ULAF, ALSO, BECOMES FROM THE STUFF OF STARS, AS THE MIND OF CARLOS SAGAN ONCE TOLD.
Judge: Do you have any hobbies?
Entity: NO TIMES TO TALK NOW, RUSSIANS KARUMPING ON THE DOOR OF ULAF. REMEMBER, THIS IS ULAF SAYING, "BE THE MASTER." *END TRANSMISSION*
Judge: I'm still here.
I took this photo around 1992 or 1993 not long after Super Mario Kart came out. I had rented the game from Blockbuster (See "Secret Cartridge Messages"), and I was amazed to see that the cartridge would save high scores (in this case, track records) between sessions.
That blew my mind a little, because it meant that the scores I saw on the screen came from previous renters of the game — I was playing against previous renters' track times! So when I set a new record on a particular track, it carried a little extra weight.
(It struck me, even then, that this sharing of scores between players formed a sort of primitive pass-along gaming network, and coming from a BBS background, that excited me.)
In retrospect, I am positive that the track record you see in this photo is nothing record-breaking in the broader competitive Mario Kart universe. But just getting first place — as a 12 year-old, first-time Super Mario Kart player — filled me with enough pride to take a photo of the game screen as viewed from my family's 1983 TV set.
Remember that this was the era when people used to take photos (with film cameras) of high score screens and physically mail them to Nintendo Power so they could be listed in the magazine. I'm sure that's where I got the idea to snap the photo.
Discussion Topic of the Week: Did you ever take photos of your video game high score screens?
Since I missed last week's column, I decided to fold some of those links into this week's edition. So there may be a few older newsbits, but at least they're still interesting.
- 2300 Console Games Now Playable on Internet Archive
'Ole pal Jason Scott writes about the sudden influx of games playable on the Internet Archive website
For the last couple of weeks I’ve been working with a range of volunteers on a massive expansion of what we call the Console Living Room at the Internet Archive. Previously weighing in at about 800 game cartridges from seven console systems, the new collection is roughly 2300 cartridges and a total of 21 different consoles.
- George R. R. Martin Writes Using WordStar 4.0 in MS-DOS
I'm not surprised. To avoid distractions, I sometimes write using Word 6.0 for DOS on a Compaq Aero 4/25 laptop.
The 'Game of Thrones' author confessed to late-night talk-show host Conan O'Brien that he prefers to write his popular books on a DOS word processor instead of the latest laptop.
'I hate some of these modern systems where you type a lower case letter and it becomes a capital letter. I don't want a capital. If I wanted a capital, I would have typed a capital. I know how to work the shift key.'
- Nintendo Forces Takedown of GBA Emulator for iOS
From the not-very-surprising department
In order to play titles like Super Mario and Zelda on your iPhone, then, you have to look at unofficial alternatives. GBA4iOS was one of the most popular — but after its creators received a DMCA notice from Nintendo this week, it is no more.
- Analogue Interactive's $499 NES Clone Up for Pre-Order
TinyCartridge reports on this fancy console with a healthy grain of salt mixed in. (Memories of Generation NEX still make me shudder.)
Analogue has opened pre-orders for its Nt, the Famicom/NES device with RGB output, four controller ports, and purported 'unparallelled'" compatibility with American and Japanese games and accessories.
- New Book About How Sega Nearly Won the Console Wars
Chris Kohler provides an overview of Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo and the Battle That Defined a Generation.
If a few small things had changed, might we be gaming on a Sega PlayStation right now? That’s the picture Blake Harris paints in his new book Console Wars. It is a narrative history of the brief time period in the lifespan of the videogame publisher Sega when it was on top of the world.
- Midway Planned HD Remakes of Mortal Kombat Games
I would have really loved to see this
With the [ Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection], Midway's initial plan was to release HD remakes of the original games with new actors, and even though that's not what happened in the end, these images with Liu Kang, Sonya, Shao Kahn and the others show that the remakes would have been quite faithful to the original
- The Last Survivors of Meridian 59
A rare examination of obscure Internet game culture from a mainstream publication (The New Yorker)
Today, almost eighteen years after Meridian 59’s launch, Barloque’s streets are quiet and vacant, its cobblestones buffed and rounded by little more than a digital breeze. They are rarely visited by more than twenty people in the world at any one time.
- The Great Works of Software
Paul Ford muses about a software canon
Is it possible to propose a software canon? To enumerate great works of software that are deeply influential—that changed the nature of the code that followed?
- How Steve Wozniak Wrote BASIC for the Original Apple From Scratch
Woz himself writes for Gizmodo, re: BASIC 50th anniversary
The problem was that I had no knowledge of BASIC, just a bare memory that it had line numbers from that 3-day high-school experience. So I picked up a BASIC manual late one night at HP and started reading it and making notes about the commands of this language. Mind that I had never taken a course in compiler (or interpreter) writing in my life.
- How Sega is Rejuvinating its Classic Games in 3D
I'm not sure if "rejuvenating" is the right word here, but I welcome Sega dipping into the past
Few games have had as much attention lavished upon them as the Sega 3D Classics series. The first wave of titles was released between November and December of last year, in pairs over four successive weeks.
- Super Mario Bros. Level Belt (Etsy)
Incredible artistry — an entire Super Mario Bros. level crafted into a leather belt
The images are of a belt that I crafted for my brother, who is a big Super Mario fan, and depicts the last level of Super Mario brothers where Mario finally rescues the princess.
If you want me to include something on a future Newsbits column, send me an email with "[Newsbits]" in the subject line.
Ah, the IBM 3270 PC. What a strange beast. It was essentially an IBM PC that could also emulate an IBM 3270 terminal, which allowed it to link up to IBM mainframes. In a sense, this was IBM's version of the AppleLine protocol adapter (featured in a Retro Scan a few weeks ago), albeit one built into an IBM PC.
By the way, look at the keyboard on this machine. Function keys galore. I've always wanted one of those.
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever used an IBM mainframe computer?
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?
As I've previously mentioned, I've found a wealth of Retro Scan material while looking through old family papers in the attic at my mom's house.
This time, I was sorting through a giant box of my ancient artwork from school, and I came upon this fascinating computer printout from my kindergarten era (1985-86).
I vaguely remember making it (although, strangely, I mostly remember coloring in those little boxes and being proud of it), but I have no idea what software I used to do it. I know that my school stocked itself with IBM PCs, but the font and the overall feel of the image remind me of an Apple II MECC educational game.
Whatever the platform, this looks like the output from a stamp/clip-art program for kids. Does anybody know what it is?
Discussion Topic of the Week: What was the first computer paint program you ever used?
I must admit that I wanted this "Pro 200 Super Electronic Handheld Gaming System" upon seeing it in 1998 — even through I knew it was almost certainly a piece of junk. Not to play it, per se, but to collect it and to admire its gloriously gimmicky nature.
If history is any guide, I'm guessing that the Protech Pro 200 didn't actually ship with 256 (or even 200) built in games. Rather, it likely contained 250 variations on a handful of distinct games — like most "1000-in-1″ cheap off-brand multicarts from back in the day.
16 years since its release, I have still never played the Pro 200, so I can't say if it had any play value. I did find this commercial on YouTube though.
Has anybody out there played one of these?
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the cheapest, crappiest piece of video game hardware you've ever bought (think peripherals too)?
Hello, and welcome to VC&G's 2013 Thanksgiving Spectacular. I'm your host for this evening, Burt Edwards.
Thanksgiving is a great excuse to spend time with family around a four-player game of Gauntlet IV for the Sega Genesis. Or perhaps a Super Bomberman tournament. Or eight-player networked Atari Jaguar Battlesphere? Did I mention a 16-player Mario Kart Double Dash LAN battle?
One of each, please.
But before you stuff yourself with turkey and get lost in multiplayer fragfests, feel free to enjoy the following Thanksgiving-themed posts I have culled from the annals of VC&G history.
- [ Retro Scan of the Week ] Gather 'Round the Videotex (2013)
- [ Retro Scan of the Week ] Family Computing (2011)
- [ Retro Scan of the Week ] An Apple //c Thanksgiving (2010)
- A 1980s Home Computer Family Celebration (2009)
- [ Retro Scan of the Week ] The NES Action Set Family (2009)
- Guest Editor Introduction: ULAF EDIT THE GHOST THIS WEEKS (2007)
- What Computer Nerds Should Be Thankful For (2006)
That is all for now. Let the thankfulness begin!
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?