Something very odd has happened to the Tomorrow's Heroes website. Something that I cannot explain. For the past two weeks, I have been getting a ton of hits. While this is nothing mysterious (especially since my Classic Comic Ads section was picked as one of the feature sites of the day on USA Today's website, June 13th), what is mysterious is what page on the website has been getting a ton of hits. Last week, I had over 12,000 hits on my picture of the Nintendo Faxanadu box. What is even stranger is through the first three days of this week (Sunday through Wednesday), I have had overly 12,000 more hits on it. While I think it is a decent box and it is a good scan, I cannot figure out the sudden interest in it. Can anyone shed any light on this?
Say what’s this we hear about the Retrogaming Times not covering other classic gaming computer systems? We’re mostly just covering the Texas Instruments (and done very well by Jim), but just a tiny bit Atari and C64 coverage? OK, I agree and in fact since January I’ve been working on this article/interview. Curtis did all the work, I just helped to lead him a bit and edit things for him. Curtis is a regular RT reader, from Canada, who’d like to share his expertise with the Tandy / Radio Shack Color Computers (CoCo or Coco for short). We’ll do this in three parts, but if you want sections 2 and three, just ask and I’ll email them to you in advance. This month, we look at the history and family of the Cocos and then next time we’ll look at the games and peripherals, and then finally take a look at Curtis’ programming efforts and using the Coco online.
Curtis Boyle has quite an accumulation of any and all information about the games, the companies, and programmers for his favorite classic computer system - the Coco.
RT: First off, do Coco users like the term Coco, or hate it?
CB: Back in 1982 when it was first starting to be used, it caused a huge debate (some wanted TRS-80, some wanted 80C, some wanted Coco). Coco eventually won out... one of the Coco only magazines from the 1980's was called 'Hot Coco' (Part of the Wayne Green magazine empire of the time, along with 80 Micro and others). What eventually caused it to win over the others is that people realized that the Coco was the only machine Tandy carried at the time that did NOT have a Z80 chip in it. Even Tandy/Radio Shack itself started calling it the Coco in their ads.
RT: Which computers are part of the Coco family, or can be used to play some of the Coco games software, and or game cartridges. Were they all sold from Radio Shack? Any third party or overseas machines?
CB: A predecessor to the Coco itself was Radio Shack's Videotex terminal which could get you online back in 1980. It used the same VDG (Video Display Generator), the graphics chip as the Coco, as well as the same case and keyboard. But, it was effectively just a dumb terminal with some low-res graphics capabilities. It was officially announced in late May, 1980, although some terminals had already been in use in Kentucky under the "Project Green Thumb" that Radio Shack did with the US government along with Motorola starting in 1977. To quote the August, 1980 issue of TRS-80 Micro Computer News (note that the cover dates were ahead of actual release, the same as magazines), from a press release dated May 27, 1980:
"[...] Radio Shack described TRS-80 VIDEOTEX as the outgrowth of a device the company originally developed for a novel government experiment called Project Green Thumb. Radio Shack, because of its earlier cooperation in developing the Weatheradio (R), was invited by the National Weather Service to participate in the project in late 1977. Project Green Thumb is an ongoing agricultural experiment that employs information retrieval to give farmers a choice of 22 categories of data, updated hourly by computer. Using terminals developed by Radio Shack in conjunction with Motorola, the network involves cooperation with the Weather Service, the University of Kentucky, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Green thumb terminals are presently in use at 200 farms in Shelby and Todd counties in Kentucky."
The real Coco was first announced by Radio Shack on July 31, 1980 in Fort Worth (along with two other machines: TRS-80 Model III and the TRS-80 Pocket Computer), and came as either a 4K RAM or 16K RAM machine, with an 8K Color Basic ROM (made by Microsoft before they took over the market with the IBM PC). An Extended BASIC ROM upgrade was also pre-announced, which added better sound capabilities, as well as high-res graphics support, which expanded the internal ROM to 16K (also by Microsoft), but you couldn't get one until late 1980. A few ROM cartridges were simultaneously announced as well, including the following games: Checkers, Chess, Quasar Commander, Football, Pinball, and Bingo Math).
The following year (1981), Radio Shack also brought out their double density 35 track disk drive system. Some rival 3rd party drive systems came out even earlier, but eventually the Radio Shack version became the standard version (although they upgrade to 40 track, double sided much later, and one could use a 720K 3.5" drive fine just by adding it to the drive cable). The original Coco went through several motherboard revisions between 1980 and 1983. 'A' and 'B' revisions were internal to Radio Shack and never publicly released; 'C' versions were quite rare, and 'D' was the first widely sold board. As RAM became cheaper, 'E' and 'F' boards came out, which made using 32K RAM and 64K RAM much easier to install... on the older boards, you had to cut traces and rewire parts of the motherboard to do such upgrades. In 1982 or 1983, the Dragon was released in the U.K. Featuring the same chipset (including CPU and VDG) as the Coco, it also sported a 'real' printer port (the Coco's was done mostly with software, through a mostly software RS-232C port), and a full travel keyboard. The keyboard was mapped differently, so it wasn't completely compatible, but programs that just used joysticks usually worked as is. The only other compatibility issues were the fact that the Color artifacting in hi-res modes (common to all NTSC versions of the Coco) did not work on PAL systems, and the disk drive system was quite different than the Coco's (cassette was pretty well the same, and ROM cartridges were close). In summer of 1983, The Coco 2, 64K Coco, and OS-9 Level 1 operating system were all simultaneously announced. The Coco 2 was a slightly smaller version of the Coco, but now with 16K or 64K RAM options, and a different colored case (white instead of grey). It also included an improved keyboard, with keys with real travel (not the 'chicklet' keyboard that the original model had). Around the same time, the MC-10 (Micro Color Computer) was released to compete with the Sinclair ZX-81 computer. While using the same graphics chip, it used a different CPU (6803 instead of 6809E), and was thus not completely compatible with the Coco. Some BASIC programs could be run on both, although the BASIC's were a little different and porting required a program to translate the tokens back and forth. It was an extremely small computer, with an almost no-travel, spongy keyboard, and wasn't sold for too long before it disappeared. Another overseas clone done around this time period was the Sampo, from Korea, I believe. I don't know too much about it though, and somebody on the web does have a mention of it (along with a picture) that you could find more information on it.
In July, 1986, Radio Shack introduced the Color Computer 3 and OS-9 Level 2 operating systems. The Coco 3 featured a new keyboard with 4 extra keys (F1, F2, ALT and CTRL), 128K or 512K of RAM, a completely new GIME chip (Graphics Interrupt Memory Enhancer), which featured expanded graphics modes (up to 640x225x4 color, 320x225x16 color, horizontal and vertical hardware scrolling, 64 color palette with palette registers), a better hardware interrupt handling system, and an MMU for handling RAK 64K), a 68B09E CPU (twice the speed of earlier models), 2 button joystick support (Coco and Coco 2 only supported one button), and both Composite and RGB Analog video out ports in addition to the standard TV/RF-Modulator options available on earlier models. OS-9 Level II brought windowing capabilities, multi-user and multi-tasking to the forefront (the latter two worked with OS-9 Level 1 as well, but 64K RAM was too limiting to really run that well). In 1990, when Radio Shack announced that they would quit producing the Coco line, several 3rd party companies decided to make a try at creating a 'Coco 4'. Three different companies actually got hardware out the door in limited quantities, but none of them were big enough to make a real go at it. IMS's MM/1 system was a 15MHz 68070 based system, that ran OS-9 68000, with a fairly compatible windowing system to OS-9 Level II, but they had production and money problems. Several hundred were sold. Delmar sold the PT-68K system, which was also an OS-9 68000 system, but with a PC ISA bus for cards. I believe hundreds of these were sold as well, but driver support for PC cards was quite limited, as the money required to get specs to write drivers for cards was very high (a problem Linux would also run into in the early stages). Frank Hogg Labbs made several machines: the TC-9 (which I own one of), the TC-70, and then a later "superboard" whose name escapes me at the moment (but it used 68020 or 68030 chips). The TC-9 was the only one of all of them to use a 6809, with improved Coco compatible hardware, but did not have very good ROM BASIC compatibility, just OS-9 (the others mentioned above did eventually get a 6809 software emulator, but it had some compatibility problems as well). Frank did have some ambitious plans for it already designed in the hardware (both TC-9 and TC-70 motherboard could go into a 16 bit bus back plane known as the K-BUS, and talk to each other and other TC-9/TC-70 cards, as well as other peripheral cards), but the software which actually used all of that was never completed. The first release drivers were fairly minimal as well, and Bill Nobel and I ended up writing the final drivers ourselves, with Frank's and Bruce Isted's [the original driver writer, who had no time anymore to continue driver updates himself] cooperation. Information on all 3 of these systems are available elsewhere on the web. 3rd party entrepreneurs added things like hard drives (including current SCSI and IDE interfaces, the latter which I wrote the drivers for), Sega gun interface adapters, 1, 2 and even 8MB RAM upgrades, real time clocks, high-speed serial ports, real parallel ports, Speech chips, and many others. Radio Shack eventually quit producing the machine in 1990, although some stores still sold them into 1992-1993 from remaining inventory. To give you an idea of the power of OS-9 - we used to run our entire company (McKenzie Ray Tickets - since bought out by my current employer, Mercury Graphics) off of a 1 MB RAM Coco 3, with eight 9600 baud serial ports, 3 parallel printer ports, 105 MB of hard drive space. It ran 8 serial terminals scattered throughout the building, and ran three 300 line per minute industrial line printers, using custom software and a modified version of OS-9 Level II, and later, NitrOS9 (an upgrade that used the Hitachi 6309 upgrade chip - a faster, more capable version of the 6809). An interesting aside - in 1984-1985, Tandy was working on a "Deluxe Coco", which would have been a machine between the Coco 2 and 3 in capabilities (128K RAM, 64K RAM drive, the expanded keyboard, and some other things). They actually had keyboards manufactured, and many prototypes done, and had even published some specs for it in their Coco 2 BASIC manuals (many sidebars in the manual referred to some of it's features), but they axed the project and decided to go with the Coco 3 design instead. The keyboards were sold in stores to upgrade Coco 2's to the expanded keyboard (3rd party companies had been selling expanded keyboards since late 1982), but the rest of it (including the RAM drive built into the BASIC ROM) were never released.
RT: Thanks Curtis for your time. This ends part one of three. Come back next month when we take a quick look at the games from the Coco.
Alan Hewston, when not surfing ebay for games that he may never find time the to play can be reached at email@example.com, or see wants and trading lists at: http://members.core.com/~hewston/Hewston_vg.html
Curtis Boyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at http://nitros9.stg.net/coco_game_list.html
Greetings, gamers. This month on the vault we had ads for two of Activision's
top titles, which seem to fit the spirit of the summer.
Artwork by C. Kenyou, - artistic license indeed as Dashly makes a 1 handed grab of a HOT! pot – with Lady P. inside!!
Welcome to my 25th Many Faces of review (now up to 130 “Faces”).
If you didn’t see, hear, and play Tarzan, er uh “Jungle King” early on in 1982, you may never see it again – being that it was quickly replaced at all arcades. This was probably the second arcade game involved in a lawsuit (after “Donkey Kong”), and definitely the first to lose. I’m not sure what the monetary terms were or why the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate did not allow Taito to keep the game as is, and share in the profits. Not to mention possible arcade sequels and then one can only wonder how much more they lost from the home versions!?! AFAICT no other Tarzan arcade games came out, and there was only one home licensed, classic era game, “Tarzan” for the CV. I wonder if Taito even tried to get a license? Perhaps some things are more important than money, at least as far as the Burrough’s estate was concerned, or maybe they just were not ready for video games – so let’s describe the facelift below.
“Jungle Hunt”, the replacement game was pretty much the same, but gone was it’s claim to fame – the realistic Tarzan yell that drew a crowd. Likewise, replaced were all the graphics both electronically and on the arcade cabinet. Taito was forced to swap the circuit boards, the marquees and stickers on every machine at the arcades. The lord of the jungle, as represented by a loin-cloth clad stud, was replaced by an British chap wearing a pith helmet and safari gear. ‘I say old man, have you seen my lady?’ The game now starred Sir Dudly Dashly (as Atarisoft called him) who performed exactly like his protégé, but he now swung on ropes instead of vines. Confused fans longed for “Jungle King” and some wanted the yell or nothing at all. Still the early success of “King” was enough to bring the “Hunt” home so that we can bring you the many faces as “Jungle Hunt”.
The manuals tell us that a safari hunter’s wife is planned as “soup de jour” for some cannibals, thus he must go on the ”Hunt” to find her. The 4 scenes are: Forest (swing on vines/ropes), River (swim the crocodile infested river), Rocks (uphill climb of an avalanche-plagued mountain side), and finally Natives (rescue of Lady Penelope Dashly). After the final scene, where you leap over 2 cannibals and by touching Lady P. set her free, you began the entire “Hunt” all over again. Each time with a more difficult pace, and/or added crocs & rocks, plus a monkey or 2 patrol your vines.
Arcade: Taito 1982 Jungle King, then re-released/modified as Jungle Hunt – also 1982
Home Versions (all by Atari/Atarisoft, so almost no programmers credits): (1983 versions) Atari 2600, Atari 8 bit, 5200, Commodore 64, TI-99 (Jim Dramis & Paul Urbanus), and Colecovision. (1984 versions) Vic 20 & Apple II (Ivan Manley).
Categories: Gameplay, Addictiveness, Graphics, Sound & Controls
The home versions offer most of these gameplay elements and options: a demo of each scene; keeps track of both your current score(s) & the high score; a pause; 3 difficulty levels; 500 second timer; monkeys on the vines (in later rounds); a variety of crocodile activity and aggressiveness; air meter and its audio clues; the Murk (bubbles) which slow Dudley; a quick way to reset and play again; “Jungle Hunt” theme music before/after the game; brief musical interludes transitioning between scenes. Only a few versions have the river’s current and/or the effects of gravity while running uphill - pushing to the right against you. The laws of physics are surely violated on all versions for both swinging on for pushing off the vines. A couple versions are particularly bad and stray from the norm. Some noticeable differences that do not effect my ratings are: number of lives (most are 6/3/3 for dif levels 1/2/3; displaying points earned by defeating crocodiles or evading boulders; and poor transitions/glitches when scenes end (like a vine above the river, or no river). One important restriction – an invisible barrier on scenes 2 & 3 is inconsistent between versions. Dudley cannot jump, swim or move Left of this barrier. The “Gameplay” or “Addictiveness” scores suffer when the barrier is small, like 50% on the river or 60% on the hill. With 60% & 80% respectfully, you have maneuverability. Regardless, you had better learn where these limits are, and how they impact you. Finally, how often do you see someone keep a pith helmet on while swimming, or wield a flesh colored knife, or finally shed clothes that reappear later – stay tuned.
Have Nots: Vic 20 (36)
Have Nots: TI-99 (36)
I came to realize that this was a watered down version - and as they say, looks are not everything. The “Graphics” are pretty good (7), and it’s best feature, but nothing special. There were some corners cut, like using fewer colors for simplicity, leading to the flesh-colored knife. Also glitches like a vine over the river and you cannot jump off the vines right away. The “Gameplay” is good enough (6), but is missing or has poorly done elements – such as: no monkeys, no bubbles (the Murk), no scores for crocs & rocks, all crocs always move in a straight line, and there is no ducking – just leap over the big boulders. The “Addictiveness” is very good (7), but you may play far longer than you expected – to rescue Lady P. It is somewhat challenging. The vines are too difficult, possibly making up for the easy crocodiles on the river scene. The barriers are at 70% & 70% giving you full movement here and no frustration. Finding the [P] key in an instant - in order to pause is pitiful. Space Bar please! Fortunately the un-pause is any key or stick movement. The “Sound” is OK (6) at best. The effects are mostly there, but poor, and there’s no “Jungle Hunt” theme music or any transition music anywhere. The “Controls” are perfect (10) if using a standard Atari controller. I assume that bootleg disk copies exist if you cannot find the somewhat uncommon cart.
Have Nots: Atari 2600 (36)
Have Nots: Colecovision (41)
Silver Medal: Atari 5200 (42)
Silver Medal: Atari 8 bit (42)
Silver Medal: Apple 2 (42)
Gold Medal: Commodore 64 (43)
Assuming our favorite editor does not mind, I’d like to plug and give thanks for folks who helped make the Many Faces of “Jungle Hunt” even better. Marc & Martin from Canada who gave me the best deal on CV cart & manual at PC3. And from the CCAG2K2 show, there was Tom from DigitalDinos.com who sold me my first Apple (a IIc) & “Jungle Hunt” disk, plus Carol from C’s games http://members.core.com/~hewston/Hewston_vg.html in the ‘Burgh who provided me two JH manuals. Finally, from RGVC, Elvis77 from Texas who traded me the 8-bit manual. (see ). Come back next month for the Many Faces of TBD. Hoping for “Buck Rogers”, “Mountain King”, “Robotron”, “Threshold” or “Joust” (just need 1 more version) or if not, then much simpler “Kangaroo” (for 2600, 5200 8 bit) & “Time Pilot” (2600, CV & C64). But bigger is better. Alan Hewston, is reachable at: or for trading see
Greetings, gamers. I'm back with another trio of reviews for the Atari 7800. We
all know of Mario, Nintendo's mascot. Throughout the late 1980s he was received
much acclaim for his role in many NES blockbusters. But did you know that Mario
actually appeared on another system around the same time? Atari managed to bring
Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., and Mario Bros. to the 7800. They also rereleased
the Atari 2600 versions after buying the rights from Coleco(someone tell me why they would want to do that). The 7800 versions were
much needed improvements over their 2600 counterparts, but lets just how these
three games compare to their arcade and NES cousins.
As I mentioned this game is tons better than the 2600 version. For the most part
this cart contains almost everything the arcade game has, including the unfair
rule where if you fall more than two inches you die. In what seems to be a
tradition in DK console ports, this version is missing the pie factory level,
just like almost every other version. I heard that that level in only found in
certain computer versions. The graphics are very close to the arcade game,
although it looks a little stretched out at times. The sound, on the other hand,
is not as good. While the familiar music play out, many of the sound effects are
annoying and not like the arcade game(let's face it, sound was not the 7800's
biggest strength). Even though the sound could be better, Donkey Kong is still a
very good game on the 7800, matching up to the arcade version very well.
This game doesn't make as good a transition as Donkey Kong. Again the graphics
are almost like the arcade, and some say better that DK. However, the sounds
seem worse that DK, with incorrect and annoying sound effects. The music doesn't
seem right either. This game is still pretty good, but takes a back seat to the
First let me say that this game is much better that the 2600 and 5200 versions;
in fact Alan Hewston gave it a Silver Medal in the
"Many Faces Of.." segment. The graphics are close to the arcade version, which
is very good, but again a little squashed, and some of the characters look
weird. The sounds are once again a mixed bag. Again we have decent music but
shrill sound effects. For the most part the controls are good, though at times
jumping can be trying. This game still manages to be a treat to play, even if
you've master the arcade and NES versions. Its a very good port; you'll
certainly find everything in the arcade here.
I got into a lengthy discussion last week with a friend about the morality of MAME.
MAME as you know is the Multi Arcade Machine Emulator. It allows anyone with a PC and an Internet connection to download and play hundreds even thousands of arcade games from the beginning of the arcade age almost to the present.
Everyone agrees that there is nothing legally wrong with the emulator itself. It is nothing more than some bits of code that allow the arcade ROMS to think they are running on their own custom hardware.
The problem lies in the ROMS.
The question that we wrestled with in our discussions was this:
Is having and playing ROMS on MAME stealing ?
The primary definition of “steal” is, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, “To take (the property of another) without right or permission.”
When you have a copy of a ROM have you taken the property of another without right or permission ?
Not really. You have an image of that property, but they still have it as well. You basically have an image of it.
(One of the big discussions over the last few years has been software rights. Who owns the software you are using on the computer you are using right now ? If you read the licensing agreement on most software, you’ll see that, even though you paid for it, you do not own the software you buy. Instead, you own a license to use that software.)
I think that instead of stealing when you play ROMS on MAME, that it is more likely that you may be violating someone’s copyright.
The definition of “copyright” is (thanks again to the AHD) “The legal right granted to an author, composer, playwright, publisher, or distributor to exclusive publication, production, sale, or distribution of a literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic work.”
I other words, this is mine. I wrote it. I will decide what happens with it.
Copyrights can be bought and sold. Copyrights do expire. But only 70 years after the death of the original author. You do not have to register to have a copyright. A copyright exists from the moment that a work is created. But you cannot sue, in the United States unless your copyright is registered.
It is fairly safe to say that every game ROM is copyrighted.
But then again, so is every song you hear on the radio, every TV show you watch, every book you read.
Do you tape TV shows ? Then, technically, you are violating the copyright. Do you tape songs off of the radio ? I know I did when I was a kid. I’d sit in my room listening to the radio and reading a book. When a song came on the radio that I liked, I taped it.
By the letter of the law, any use of a copyrighted work without the permission of the owner is a violation of a copyright. (Listen at the beginning of any sporting event and you’ll hear it explained)
You sing a song that you heard on the radio as you walk down the street, you are, technically, in violation of the copyright laws.
(By the way, if I sing a song, and there is no one to hear it, does it still sound awful ?)
There is some provision for use of portions of a work under the “fair use” clause. There is no specific limit as to how far or how much of a work can be used under the fair use rules.
Many of these battles have been fought over the last couple of years concerning Napster, mp3s and the record companies.
But as a just a regular person reading these things, I get the sense that the problem that the recording industry had with Napster isn’t the copyright violations, but more the lost revenues. Just poke around a little bit and find out how much the music industry “lost” because of downloaded music.
OK, let’s bring this back to the ROMS.
Have you tried finding MAME ROMS lately ?
Most of the larger ROM sites have abandoned hosting ROMS. Rumor has it that some of the larger ones (like mame.dk) got a letter from Midway about the Mortal Kombat ROMS and how they’d be sued if those ROMS were not removed. That scared a lot of ROM host sites and their internet hosts into removing ALL ROMS from their pages.
There is plenty of ROM swapping going on out in the newsgroups. But finding them wholesale is difficult right now.
So let’s go back to the original question. When you play downloaded ROMS on MAME, are you stealing ?
My opinion : No.
Are you technically infringing on the copyrights of the owners ?
(I know that there is a provision that everyone sites. That if you own the original game board that you are not in violation)
The reason I say maybe is that no one has said that having and activating the ROM for my own personal use violates the “fair use” clause of a copyright. I believe that much like listening to a taped song, watching a taped show, or singing to myself, playing a ROM on my computer for my own pleasure does not violate the owner’s copyright.
But there is a line that can be crossed in my mind that would violate the owner’s copyright.
If I should try to profit from these works in any way, shape or form, I believe that I would violate the copyright.
If I would rig these ROMS up in an arcade machine and charge 25 cents to play them, I would be in violation.
If I sell these ROMS on a CD, I would be in violation.
If I have these ROMS on a website that I profit from through advertising, I would be in violation.
But hey, what do I know ?
What do you think ?
(Fred has been playing games for over 25 years and actively collecting them for over 10. The 2500 + games that he has takes up most of his home office and living room. He lives in Denver, PA with his understanding wife Jennie, his 6 year-old, button-loving son, Max and his 2 year-old, 4th player, Lynzie. He can be contacted at email@example.com.)
On the second level, you are at the bottom and have to toss barrels up at the Centipede as he comes down. It is just like the regular Centipede game, only barrels replace the magic wand. As you can see from this progression, we switch from a Donkey Kong level to a Centipede level. All four of the Donkey Kong levels will be there, as well as alternating and progressively harder Centipede levels.
As you go along, you will find the pie factory has been overrun with bugs (yuck). The fire chickens on the girder level are now fireflies. There will be all kinds of odd bugs invading the different levels of Donkey Kong.
The mail must get through! Here is the latest batch of queries from the classic game world.
Why is it that when you have a link to another website, you always put the address and make it a link? Isn't this a bit of overkill?
The reason we do this is that many people print off Retrogaming Times and share it with friends and family. When RT gets printed off, the links are lost (no matter how hard to click on the paper, it will not take you anywhere, just make a hole), so this way if they see a site they would like to go to, they can copy down the address and head over there.
Can someone do a review of all the different games for the Atari 2600 that use the paddles? I would like to see if there are enough worthwhile games to make it worth getting them.
We will see what we can do. As far as whether it is worth getting the paddles, I can name two games that make the purchase worthwhile....Kaboom and Warlords. Those two alone make the purchase a wise one.
Which game is better, Defender II or Stargate for the Atari 2600?
Actually, they are the same game. They are just labeled differently. Go figure. As far as how good they are, both are great versions and worthwhile owning either one. If you like Defender, you will love Defender II/Stargate.
The spotlight is shining once again on a few well deserving sites that provide information about classic games. Be sure to check them out.
Vectrex Resource Center
TRS and Color Computer Homepage
After a long hiatus, we decided to sit in on another session of Video Game Therapy with the renowned therapist, Dr. I.M. Sane. He is the leading therapist for video game characters and has helped many characters learn to cope with the stress of being a video game character. Today, he is talking to the sno-bees, the villains from the game Pengo. Let us sit in and listen Dr. Sane as he spokes to three sno-bees.
Dr. Sane-"Let us first get your names. Could you please give me your names, starting at the far right and going to the left."
Sno-Bee #1-"Ummm... we don't have names. We are just sno-bees."
Dr. Sane-"I see. How do you distinguish one sno-bee from another, without names?"
Sno-Bee #2-"We never live long enough to have to worry. Pengo always kills us first."
Dr. Sane-"Very interesting. Can you tell me why this Pengo kills you?"
Sno-Bee #3-"We attack first. Once we see Pengo, we try to kill him."
Dr. Sane-"Why is there such aggression towards this Pengo character? What has he/she done to you?"
Sno-Bee #1-"We hate Pengo. We want to kill Pengo."
Dr. Sane-"I understand that, but why do you want to kill Pengo?"
Sno-Bee #2-"We want his name! He has a name and we have none."
Dr. Sane-"So you believe if you kill him, you will acquire his name?"
Sno-Bee #3-"That is correct. Only problem is that every time we finally kill him, he just comes back again. He is worse than Jason from Friday the 13th."
Dr. Sane-"If you cannot keep him dead, then why do you keep trying? Why don't you try to come to a peaceful resolution?"
Sno-Bee #1-"Because we want his name! We want to be the Pengo!"
Dr. Sane-"I see that this is going to take some serious therapy. We will need to schedule weekly appointments for the next few months. Please see my secretary to set up the appointment and we will talk next week."
(St. Louis, MO.)-- In what could be considered an unprecedented move, the organizers of The Sixth Annual Atari Jaguar Festival have decided to broaden the scope of the event by showcasing not only the Atari Jaguar, but classic and next generation systems. Adding to this, Jagfest 2k2 will also provide an avenue for creators of "homebrew" software to show their creations to the world.
Last years Jagfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin set the stage by allowing non Atari
systems to have a limited presence. This year that idea will be taken
further by making their inclusion official.
When you get two or more gamers together, it is usually inevitable that some challenges occur. It is times like these that games like Street Fighter or Madden Football pop up. The one on one battles that allow you to test your mettle against your best friend for bragging rights. Throughout the history of video games, there has been many great two player games, from the venerable Street Fighter II to Bomberman to One on One with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, competition has been a big part of video games. But over the years, there has only been one Ultimate Two Player Game!
Most gamers first reaction would be to choose Street Fighter 2, consider the starting point for the popular rise of the fighting game genre. What could be more ultimate than a mano a mano battle? Punching and kicking your way to video game supremacy has to be the best way to gauge ones video game abilities, right? Wrong. As good as fighting games are, they still rely too much on button mashing or memorization of patterns. Sometimes it is the one who can hit the buttons quicker that wins. Then you have the whole concept of different fighters. Some fighters are just better than others. Granted, there is a certain satisfaction that comes from whipping your buddy with Chun Li and laughing that he got beat by a girl, but it really is not the ultimate two player game.
Another popular choice would be baseball. What other duel can match the showdown between a pitcher and a batter? Hitting a baseball is considered the hardest thing to do in sports (just ask Michael Jordan). What better way to show your manhood, than to make your friend swing early and listen to the sweet sound of the umpire yelling "Strike Three, You're Out!" Of course there is that sickening sound as the bat meets wood and is crushed over the right field wall. Once again, baseball as great a game as it is, is not the truest test. There is always luck involved. No matter how great a hitter you are, you still need the ball to bounce right, to get a hit. There is wind and weather conditions that affect the flight of the ball. There is altitude, fatigue and other factors that can change the outcome of a game and really do not prove who is the best video game player.
While we are on sports, you may consider a racing game to show a true test of ones mettle. Controlling a car as you race around a track to beat a certain time must be the best way to prove your abilities. While racing is a great way to prove it, it still centers around track conditions as well as the abilities of different cars and even something as minute as what kind of controller you are using. Sure you could try to replicate the same conditions, by using the same vehicle on the same track with the same controller, but there are still things that can affect the outcome. We are getting close, but not quite there.
What about games like Bomberman? Or Joust? These are classic games that have stood the test of time and surely are worthy of consideration. While both are personal favorites, neither one is the one ultimate two player game. Bomberman relies on getting power-ups that will improve your character. There is a fair amount of luck involved in when, where and what these power-ups are. You cannot control this and it can mean the difference between winning and losing. While Joust does not deal with power-ups, you are dealing with computer controlled opponents and they can change everything. You may come back after death, on the top level and find allot more enemies there. The Pterodactyl may seem to zero in on your character.
I know that you are getting a bit upset now and probably saying something like "So what is already? Let me guess, it is some dumb game like Chess, right?" While Chess is considered one of the best strategy games of all time and a true indication of ones intellect, we are looking for the best video game player, not the smartest. We are looking for something that tests the reflexes more than the brain. We are looking for something other than Chess or Checkers or Poker.
So what is the ultimate two player game? What is the game that really shows who is the best gamer? Which game is not affected by outside forces, ones that are uncontrollable by the player? The answer is simply.....Pong! What game is both so basic and so pure? Both players are on equal footing. You both possess one paddle and have one goal, to get the ball past their opponent more times than they get it past you. There is no weather, no other players, no computer controlled characters, no lucky breaks, just your skills against your opponents. Very simple and very effective. Funny how the first home video game is still the best at determining who is the champ of video games and not have to hear some lame excuse about how the third baseman did not get to the ball or how you can mash buttons faster. Just a simple game of Pong is all you need. Don't believe me, then go on eBay and pick up a unit. You can get them for about $20.00 and battle your friends. Soon you will find out not only who has the best reflexes as well as the skill to place the ball, but you will also find out how fun Pong still is, some nearly 30 years after it has been released.
Time to end the issue. The heat of the summer calls me to get outdoors and finish the issue. High grass beckons me. Hope you enjoy another issue of Retrogaming Times, the longest running online newsletter for classic games. Just for the record, there was an article from Jim Krych that was supposed to be included, but the version he sent, came up gibberish. I would have emailed him for a replacement version, in a different format, but he is gone protecting our coasts. Just wanted to set the record straight.
Now comes the hard part. I am trying something new for the newsletter. While the newsletter will remain free, we are asking that if you enjoy the issue, please Paypal a dollar or mail in a dollar bill for it. To get right down to the point, my oldest son, Alex has autism. I spoke of him in the past, in this newsletter. To make a long story short, we are in constant battle with the school system over getting him an appropriate education. He is currently in a specialized school, called the Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism. We battled the school and were able to get him placed there, at their expense. In the process, we spent nearly $10,000 in legal fees to win the battle, and it did not even go to court. Well, as the new school year approaches, the school is talking of removing him from this school. This would not be a problem, but they want to put him back in the same classroom that we fought to get him out of. Imagine kids as old as 10 years, sitting around singing "Old McDonald Had a Farm" and you get an idea of the quality of the classroom. We have already told them that this is not appropriate as it would undo all the hard work that has been done at the Center for Autism. So another big battle is brewing. But this time, I don't have the stuff to sell off to build up a war chest. Last time, I sold my classic magazine collection, Colecovision, Intellivision, Vectrex, Atari and Nintendo collections, last time to raise money. I have already sold my tabletops at the Phillyclassic to get some money for this fight, but I do not know how long or how costly it will be. So with great reluctance, I decided to ask that if you enjoy this newsletter, to pay a dollar for it. It is a small price for some enjoyment and the money will help us fight to keep our son from ending up in an institution. I will keep running this article until the case is done. Thanks for reading and understanding.
(This newsletter was written while listening to Sting and Paul McCartney and Wings.)