Archive for August, 2008

Video Games Are Fun

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

A photo essay by Marty Pickleman, Grade 5

I like video games. They are fun.

Video Games Are Fun

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Prepare for Street Combat

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Street Combat SNES Ad - EGM 1993What a silly illustration.

[ From Electronic Gaming Monthly, June 1993 ]

Discussion topic of the week: In your opinion, which Super NES game had the best graphics?

If you use this image on your site, please support “Retro Scan of the Week” by giving us obvious credit for the original scan and entry. Thanks.

[ Fuzzy Memory ] The Alchemist’s Lab

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Fuzzy MemoryIt’s been a while since we’ve had a Fuzzy Memory mysery to solve, but I recently received another request from someone seeking resolution of their distant gaming recollections. I’m not an oracle of infinite knowledge, so like always, I need the adept VC&G readership to help solve the mystery.

Puzzles in the Asylum

Erin wrote me a few days ago regarding a computer game from her past:

I am searching for the title of an old computer game I used to play. I do not remember much, only that it involved walking around, finding “clues” and puzzles and solving them to move forward in the game. There was an alchemists’ lab with the elements and runes and an asylum… I can’t remember much more than that. It was in the mid-late 90’s that I was playing this. Any thought would be greatly appreciated as I am going crazy trying to remember!

Thanks a million,

Sounds like the description of a Myst-esque point-and-click adventure game to me. I’ve asked Erin to clarify what platform she played this on (given the time frame, likely either a PC or Mac), but I’ve yet to receive a response. If I get any more information from her, I’ll post it.

[ Update – 08/21/2008: Erin says that it was a PC game, not Mac. ]

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Finally — The TI-99/4

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Texas Instruments TI-99/4 Ad - BYTE 1979Come in and “brouse” our wyde variatee of computur goodz.

Apparently, in 1979, the computer buying public could barely stand to wait any longer for Texas Instruments to ship their personal computer masterpiece, the TI-99/4. (I mean, finally. They actually released it.) Lucky for us, we have this handy “The Computer Factory” group ad to serve as a window through time, if you will, to allow us to observe the public’s overwhelming demand for TI’s hot new PC as it was in 1979. Apparently.

The TI-99/4 — which happened to posses the 7th worst PC keyboard of all time — might have been the one of the first home computers to ship with a 16-bit CPU, but it hardly took off in the marketplace (read more about its failings here and here). TI slowly learned from its mistakes and released the TI-99/4A a few years later to a more receptive audience. The Alpiner-playing world rejoiced. But it wasn’t long before the Commodore 64 crushed TI’s struggling machine (and the rest of the home computer market) in a fierce price war.

[ From BYTE, December 1979 ]

Discussion topic of the week: Have you ever hotly anticipated the release of a certain computer model? Which one got you excited the most?

If you use this image on your site, please support “Retro Scan of the Week” by giving us obvious credit for the original scan and entry. Thanks.

iMac Turns Ten

Friday, August 15th, 2008

iMac Turns Ten

Ten years ago today, Apple released the first iMac, a “Bondi blue” gumdrop PC that shook up the desktop computer world. On that day — August 15th, 1998 — I made a pilgrimage across town to CompUSA to check out the revolutionary machine in person. I was quite impressed, to say the least, and I salivated over the iMac line until I finally bought one of the new iMac G4s in 2002. I haven’t upgraded to a newer iMac model since then (I’m effectively still in debt from the last one!) but boy, would I, if I had the chance.

To celebrate this anniversary, I wrote two articles on the subject for two different publications. First up is a nifty gallery of iMac models through the years on Wired News (note: I’m not responsible for slides #11 and 12). The second piece is an analysis for Macworld entitled, “Eight Ways the iMac Changed Computing.” I hope you enjoy them.

It’s amazing that the iMac was released a decade ago. That means it’s slipping into decidedly vintage territory. So welcome, iMac, to the ranks of vintage computers. I suspect that this won’t be the last VC&G will see of them.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] EPYX Summer Games

Monday, August 11th, 2008

EPYX Summer Games Ad- 1984“Why watch the Olympics when you can be in them?”

24 years ago, EPYX delivered the industry’s best Olympics simulation to date in time for the Games of the XXIII Olympiad. While real athletes struggled for the gold in Los Angeles, kids at home recreated their heroes’ moves in digital form, courtesy of Summer Games.

In the mid 1980s, my brother, his friends, and I would pull out EPYX’s Summer Games every year and compete for the best records. We played the Atari 800 version, although EPYX released the game on the Commodore 64 and other platforms as well. Completing all events in Summer Games felt like a real, epic challenge. Our quest for world records was aided by the fact that the game saved our high scores to the disk. (Our 1980s scores are still on that disk, by the way, and I’ve been meaning to back it up for years before it gets screwy.)

To this day, EPYX’s masterpiece is still my favorite Olympic video game. In the spirit of the 2008 Beijing Games, I pulled out Summer Games last night and played it while the real Olympics unfolded on the TV behind me.

[ From Compute!, June 1984 ]

Discussion topic of the week: What’s your favorite Olympic event to play in a computer or video game? (e.g. diving, gymnastics, decathlon, etc.)

If you use this image on your site, please support “Retro Scan of the Week” by giving us obvious credit for the original scan and entry. Thanks.

Inside the Nintendo Famicom

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Inside the Nintendo Famicom - Benj Edwards

25 years ago, Nintendo entered the home video game system arena with the release of the Family Computer (Famicom) in Japan. You may know the console as the Nintendo Entertainment System, which sold 61.9 million units worldwide in its various forms.

In honor of its anniversary, I took apart an original Famicom and its accessories (including an original Famicom Disk System) while documenting the process on my trusty workbench. You can see the result as a slideshow on PC World.

I had this piece ready to go before July 15th (the actual anniversary date), but it got pre-empted by E3 coverage. I hope you enjoy it, even if it is a tad late.

(If you liked this slideshow, you might also like my previous PC World teardowns of the IBM Model M Keyboard, Apple IIc, and the TRS-80 Model 100.)

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Better Than Being God

Monday, August 4th, 2008

SimEarth God Ad - TurboDuo - 1993Michelangelo is turning in his grave (eager to play SimEarth, of course).

SimEarth: “It’s kinda like being God, except the graphics are better.”

If I recall SimEarth in general, it was kind of a dud: after excitedly buying it for the PC upon its release, my brother returned it within a few days, disappointed. I personally have never played it much, nor have I tried the TurboDuo version. But if it has better graphics than being God, then maybe I should give it a second chance.

[ From Electronic Gaming Monthly, June 1993 ]

Discussion topic of the week: What role, if any, should religion have in video games?

If you use this image on your site, please support “Retro Scan of the Week” by giving us obvious credit for the original scan and entry. Thanks.