A strange thing happened recently. I was pulling an order and I noticed that this person was buying the last copy of Combat that I had. That's right, for a moment I was sold out of Combat! This is something that is unbelievable in classic game retailing. Imagine a Funcoland without a Super Mario Bros in stock. It is unheard of. There was a time when I had hundreds, literally hundreds of them in stock. I figured I was going to my grave with these carts. Combat, Pacman and ET seemed destined to be bury alongside me. For the record, I am almost sold out of ET too, a scary thought!
Before you start emailing and offering to sell your extra Combat carts to me, let me say right now that I am not in the market for Combat carts. I know as sure as I have a nose on my face that I will find more and this drought will be very short lived.
Valter Prette let me know that a website has been designed for the MakeINTV project. So now you can go to it and give your vote of confidence. He is still trying to collect enough support to make the project a reality, so if you have not gone over and put your name on the list, then go do it! We need 500 people to make new Intellivision carts a reality, so show your support! The number of people is at 100, so you can see that we still have a ways to go! Here is the URL:
Question #1-You have done three games for the Atari, could you tell us which games they are and why you chose to do them?
Tim-The three games thus far are "Mystery Science Theater 2600," "HozerQuest: Thrift Simulation," and "The Blair Witch Project." I did MST2600 as a lark. I was experimenting with hacking 2600 sprite images with Editgfx when I heard MST3K was going off the air. I always had a special place in my heart for licenced games based on TV shows and movies, so I figured my first experiment would be a game based on MST3K - as a tribute, I guess. I took a BIN of Megamania and altered the ship so it resembled the Satellite of Love and the enemies to resemble characters from some of the hideous movies the cast riffed on. I also designed the label and instructions.
I next did HozerQuest (HQ) as a hack of Venture. I thought Star Trek: SOS was an interesting concept as an arcade "trainer" for Starfleet. So, HQ became a "trainer" for those days when we can't go out thrifting. Turns out a few people had similar ideas, I just happened to be the first to act.
And as for Blair Witch, well, Haunted House is one of my favs, so I wanted to make a game using that gameplay. The end of the movie sort of paralleled the plot of HH, so it was a natural.
Question #2-Did it get easier to do after you got the first one under your belt?
Tim-Hugely. I then knew what I was looking for sprite-wise and how to program the images upside-down and backwards. However, hacking images is harder than you may think because you're trying to build AROUND what's already been created. One wrong line here or there and the game'll crash completely.
Also, if the sprites are animated, it becomes even harder to match the original's sprite movements.
Question #3-You have taken existing games and remake them with new graphics and themes, why did you choose this over making new games?
Tim-I majored in computer programming back in the 80s when PASCAL, FORTRAN, and COBOL were useful. However, when I switched majors (journalism), all of that programming experience - including any knowledge of 6502 programming - I may have had disappeared. I'm trying to re-learn machine language programming again, but it's an arduous task. So, just to keep my foot in the door, I began twiddling around with existing programs. I've heard that other Atari homebrewers started the same way.
Question #4-Of the three games, which one was the most satisfying for you to make?
Tim-Definitely MST2600. Several people have commented on it as having good animation and gameplay. Though I had little to do with the gameplay, I take it as a compliment that the animation works so well for folks. I had a MST3K fan contact me once and say, "I think it's great that you did an Atari cart based on the series. The show was always made on the cheap, so it's only natural that a game based on it would also be available only for a discontinued, antiquated system." I got a huge laugh out of that.
Question #5-Which game has been the most popular with gamers?
Tim-Once again MST2600, but HQ had a lot of positive word of mouth when it was released.
Question #6-When you saw the Mystery Science cart sell for over $200.00, what was your first reaction?
Tim-I thought it originally was some kind of joke bid or that the bidder was trying to teach the auctioneer a lesson. After all, it's available brand-new for $16 from Hozer. However, after the auction ended, the two traded positive feedback, so I assume the deal went through. Amazing. I have to have the profit margin booted up before that happens again or at least get some sort of kickback.
Question #7-What new games do you have planned?
Tim-Well, I've sworn off hacking other games for a while. It's fun and folks seem to like the effort, but I feel a little odd messing around with another person's works. As a writer (I manage a medical magazine in Cleveland), I understand fully the concept of "ripping off." But since I make no claims to have designed these myself and that they are indeed hacks, I think most folks understand that I'm just trying to put new spins on old classics. (But MST2600 still has a royalty because, darn it, I worked HARD on that sucker!)
I'm now designing an Atari game from the ground up. There used to be a game called "Zombies" for the C64 that had a great Dawn of the Dead gameplay - long before the Resident Evils and survival horror games became popular. I thought a you-vs.-legions of undead game would be cool and I'm working on that.
Other game ideas I have include a sequel to Adventure, a game based on TV programming and scheduling wars (don't ask), and a racer based on the arcade game "Death Race 2000." I just noticed that my two prime ideas have death as a theme. Perhaps I should be worried.
Question #8-Any possibilities for games for other systems?
Tim-I recently picked up a Lynx and see that folks are programming for that as well. Let's see if I can once again grasp the basics of 6502 again, and we'll talk about other systems!
"You Friendly Neighborhood Snider-man!"
We would like to take this time to thank Tim for taking the time for the interview. We also want to wish him the best of luck with his games!
Mystery Science Theatre
Round 1. The Crawling Hand
I must say that the opponents are well drawn and with the description, you can easily figure out what they are. The crawling hand is a hand and so forth. Instead of just any ship, you are the Satellite of Love (for non-fans, that is the ship that the Mike or Joel and the robots are stuck on).
As I said before, the gameplay is identical to Megamania, so if you are a fan of the game, you will enjoy it, if not then you won't. Pretty simple. A nice feature is the label and instructions that come with the game. Both are very nice and really add to the overall product.
Hozerquest: Thrifting Simulator
The idea of the game is to go to different places in search of classic games. You go to thrift stores, garage sales and even your attic, in search of different carts. As the game get harder, the carts become more valuable. You start out looking for Space Invaders and Combat and later you are hunting Swordquest: Waterworld and even a prototype! Each treasure has a symbol from the game and after a quick glance, you can see it. Also, the monsters...errr obstacles in this game are also specially designed for each room. From Sum Guys to Dreamcast Zombies, you have a variety of things to keep you from your treasured games.
While the gameplay is Venture, I was very impressed that Tim not only redesigned the different treasures and some of the opponents, but that he went and named each one as well as each room. This is what really makes the game special and something to show off to your gaming buddies. Now if I could only find a prototype in the real world.
Blair Witch Project
All the carts can be bought at the following address:
Tim can be reached at the following email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Castlevania. Bubble Bobble. Bionic Commando. KLAX. Pac-Mania. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Road Runner.
All well-known (and some rare) ports for the NES.
Empire Strikes Back. Return of the Jedi. Gremlins. Blasteroids.
Atari-made games that never saw a different system other than an Atari one; if at all.
Or did they?
In my collecting travels, I've recently gotten hold of these games; for my cornerstone system the Commodore 64. ('ya know, that computer I'm sometimes blathering about in the pages of this fine webzine?) Most of these games were released in Europe in the mid-to late 80's and the very early 90's, while a few of them.. well, I'd rather not speculate as to how they got out.. :)
First off, I need to thank Fred "Game Lord" Pierson for a majority of these games. I had been looking for them for a while, and he was able to get the goods. Thanks Fred. :D
Also thanks to Scott Cheshire for image storage and reformatting. Thanks Scott. :D
KLAX: Not every C64 port out there can be perfect (BurgerTime, anyone?). C64 KLAX proves that rule. I can forgive it not having the speech, but the fact that only one tile comes down at a time is downright annoying. Where's the frantic pace? Where's that challenge that mixes intellect with reflexes that I love so much from the original arcade? This version is best left alone; play the MAME KLAX or get the NES cart.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: Not bad, but not terrific, either; but still far better than the travesty known as the NES Tengen Indy. The graphics and music are sufficient, and all the tricks are in the game. There is one problem though. Indy's whip doesn't always connect when it seems as though it would. But still fun.
Return of the Jedi: another Euro import and NTSC fixed game; the graphics are fair and it has all the little things the original had: Ewoks, Death Star difficulty select, etc. The scrolling on this is actually quite good and doesn't jump, but it's too easy to bump the Scoutroopers off the trail. Most likely will be added to a disk with ESB as a companion piece.
To my knowledge, these games aren't on the ftp.Arnold.hiof.no (or: www.arnold.c64.org) archive, but I'm taking steps to make sure they are. I should note that there is a "Gremlins" game on Arnold, but it's a text adventure with graphics, and not the Atarisoft version I've written about above. If these games aren't on there by Aug. or Sept., please give me a poke with a sharp E-mail, and I'll get onto it. Thanks.
(Geoff Voigt's still under the sad delusion that there's an Atarisoft C64 Donkey Kong Jr. out there somewhere. If you have one, or know for a fact that it was never made, contact him at <email@example.com>, even though if you tell him it wasn't made, he probably won't listen, but it's still worth trying, because you might, just might, get through to him, short of using blunt instruments to help in your persuasion)
Hi fellow RetroGames, first I want to thank Tom big time for giving me the opportunity to contribute to his fantastic magazine.
Ok, done. A few words about my person: Name is Reinhard, 31 years of age, born and living in Europe, a Retrogamer and collector by heart nearly since the beginning of Arcade games and Home video games (nice word). First time I saw and played a videogame was in the mid/late 70s. We got invited by a working-colleague of my mother. Game was Pong (tough guess) on some clone-video console.
Interacting live on the TV-screen fascinated me. I begged to get this new stuff. Time passed. Needless to say I didn`t get one for myself.
Then there was this local pub in my hometown. A small pub. One arcade game. Space Invaders. I saw it. I played it. I brought a friend. We challenged each other. My mother noticed the mass-disappearance of 5 Schilling coins. My mother challenged me. Not on Space-Invaders.
Actually we had no arcade in our vicinity. Just an arcade-game here and there. I got hooked on playing Mariner, I played Satan of Saturn, Pac Man, Moon Patrol, Phoenix, Asteroids, Moon Cresta. Ok, you got the idea.
In the beginning 80s on some christmas-eve there was this wrapped package under the christmas-tree. Unpacking it revealed a box. Atari VCS 2600 was printed on it in large letters. 2 smaller boxes. Asteroids and Space Invaders. Wow, arcade-games (sort of) to play in the living-room. The fun started at home. My game-collection grew. Defender, Demon Attack, Ms Pac Man, Vanguard, Pitfall, Moon Patrol, Spider Fighter, Cross Force, Ghost Manor/Spike`s Peak. Very familiar language for us Retrogamers.
Then the age of home computers began. Of course I had the Atari 600XL with tape-player. Of course I swapped it for a 800XL with floppy-drive. Of course I couldn`t turn away when I saw the Commodore 64 with it`s fantastic sound. Of course I swapped it for a Commodore Amiga 500. We copied and collected games like crazy. Yeah, we actually also played some of them. We had the fun of our lifetime. Then came girls. We put the hardware and software aside, sold it (only thing I kept was the Amiga). Some time passed. There was this idea that girls and computer could co-exist. My friends and I tried it. Hell, it really worked for some of us, ok, for a few of us.
Present time. My girlfriend is VERY understanding. She has to be. My collection of video-consoles, videogames and arcade games is not small. In my possession is nearly every video console ever made. Plus games for them. In my arcade-room stands an original Lunar Lander from Atari. 2 cabinets with many conversion-plugs. I'm just about to buy a Ridge Racer II with two seats, a House Of The Dead 2 stand-up and a Terminator 2 cabinet. That`s why we bought a house recently (September the 1st is moving-date).
Ok, this about my person. What I want to contribute to Tom`s magazine is writing game-reviews. For video-consoles, home computers and arcade-games.
(Reinhard Traunmueller, InternetNic: TraunStaa Some say he could challenge Videogame Stores and Arcades with his collection. Moves to new house to give the carts, consoles, and arcade cabs a new home also ;-). Yeah, and his girlfriend is VERY understanding. Still looks for some common carts for Atari 2600 and other systems. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org).
This month, we decided to focus on some obscure systems and the sites that give them the utmost attentions. So if you are a fan of the "other" systems, then these are for you!
Ward Shrake's site that is dedicated to this often overlooked system system that tried to compete with the likes of Atari and Intellivision and never had a chance. The site has a ton of information about this system, including an exhaustive cart list with more information about the carts than you would find anywhere else!
You can also download an emulator and see what the games were like. The site is really impressive and for someone to put this much work into such an obscure game system is a blessing for all the fans! Check it out at the following URL:
The TI 99/4A Home
Since we have to start somewhere, one of the first things I noticed is that the site had a cartridge rarity list. Not only did I not know there were so many games made for the TI computer, but now I see which are common and which are harder to find. Good to see the ones I still want are pretty easy to find!
As you look over the list of stuff on the site, you will find all the documentation you need! There is also a chat room, classified section and even a webcam on the site owner's TI system. Plus, you can find downloads for TI emulators, links to other TI related pages, scans of 99er magazine and can even get a 99er email address! This is one site that will have any TI fan coming back for more!
Another nice thing is that it is updated quite often! So there will always be more and more great stuff for you to see and enjoy! The website can be found at the following URL:
This month I will NOT review Commando as I planned. After significant research for all potential games to review here, mostly reading Tom's "Arcade Conversion List", I see that I do not yet have the Atari 8 bit version of Commando, and somehow overlooked the fairly rare Intellivision version - which I do not own. Thank you for last month's feedback, as it will help to make this column improve. Once again, apologies to the TI crowd, as their word is that the TI version of Q*bert is the best.