|Issue #30 - November 2006|
Table of Contents
|02.||The Many Faces of ... Stargate|
|04.||NEScade -- Paperboy|
|05.||An Ebayers Lament|
|07.||Game Over|Attract Mode by Scott
As the new editor, I wanted to come up with a catchy title for my column. So many of the great cliché arcade terms have been taken... Insert Coin. Press Start. It was actually tough to find a good one that hasn't been used until I really thought about what this editorial is supposed to be about. And then it occurred to me. This editorial is about attracting readers and with any luck, new writers. Sure, the regulars are probably going to gloss right over this and jump right to the meat, but if you're new to RTM, this is my chance to welcome you, hook you, and keep you coming back for more. Just like the demonstration mode that runs on an arcade game between quarters. So I decided upon Attract Mode for the name of this column, and I hope it does the job.
I'll be honest with you. As you can see over the past couple of months, RTM has been a little on the light side lately. We've had fewer contributions, and we've recently lost Adam as the editor, who's shoes I can only hope to fill as well. So I'd like to get the message out there once again that we are always looking for new contributors. Each of us who currently contribute to RTM do so because we love sharing our retrogaming discoveries with others. RTM isn't just about waxing nostalgic over the standards (Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Tetris...) And it's not relegated to covering only those games that were available before "the crash." The fact is, there's a HUGE wealth of undiscovered gems and unearthed classics that have been lost for decades that beg to be writen about. As a contributor to RTM, you can liken yourself to an archeologist (dare I say, Indiana Jones), and carve out your little niche of history. Your contributions don't have to be long, they just have to be about a particular period of gaming history that you're passionate about, whether it's about the games themselves, or the effect they've had on you or others.
So glance through this month's issue, as well as the others in our archive, and see if there's a particular era of gaming that you feel has been neglected. And feel free to contact me about any interest you might have in becoming an author for this site. Even if you can't contribute each and every month, that's perfectly alright. Periodic content is just as welcome. Thanks and enjoy the issue.
|The Many Faces of . . . Stargate|
|by Alan Hewston|
|by Brett Burnell|
Well, I'm back after a long hiatus for some more reviews for my favorite computer system of all time, the Commodore 64! This month, I will review what is probably one of my top 10 favorite games on the good old 64, "Bruce Lee" by Datasoft. Next month, I plan to review the often-overlooked original "Test Drive."
"Bruce Lee" (copyright © 1984 Datasoft)
"The man" himself!
*** DESCRIPTION ***
"Bruce Lee" allows you to do what most 13-year-old boys dream of, to become the martial arts master himself, Bruce Lee and have all of his moves! Now you can master the Martial Arts that took the legendary teacher years to develop and master right at the palm of your sweaty little hands.
You can run left or right, lie on the floor, jump, climb, kick, or punch. You can punch by pressing the fire button while standing still or do a flying kick by pressing the fire button while moving left or right. The object of the game (to open the next level) is to simply collect lamps in a "Kung Fu Theater," Shaolin Monk temple. However, the ultimate goal of the game is to reach a wizard in an underground lair. Once you defeat this wizard, rumors of untold wealth are to be had.
At the beginning of the game, you only have access to three screens. Collect all of the lamps on the three screens without dying and a "secret passage" will appear right below where you started. This passage will take you to the "Chinese Underground." At this point in the game, the difficulty increases slightly and the game becomes very enjoyable.
*** SCORING ***
Misc: 9/10 - Warning! This game is highly addictive. It is, by far, one of the best platform games ever made. My only complaint is that it was too short. The AI for the ninja and Yamos is great. They will follow you like an ant at a picnic.
Graphics: 7/10 - The graphics are comparable for the time. The designers used the full color palette of the 64 and there are a lot screens and levels to look at. Bruce Lee is yellow and the Yamo looks like the Incredible Hulk. The one complaint I have is that the game seems to have a somber mood to it. The underground uses too many dark colors.
Sound: 7/10 - The sound was again, ample for its time. Nothing new or "over the edge" here, just simple tunes. Sound effects are all simple, good, and entertaining.
Playability: 10/10 - Playability is where this game is really worth it's weight in gold. You can tell that the designers took a good bit of time thinking through and designing the levels to be first rate. They're not too hard, but not too easy either. The level of difficulty also nicely rises to the occasion the further you make it into the game.
Originality: 6/10 - Borrowing a lot from games like Jumpman! From Epyx, this game does platforming like it should be done. Future games like Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Country, and others owe their basic gameplay to games like these. It's truly an original.
Overall: 39/50 - This game has everything going for it so pick up a copy and boot it up! Even after you have mastered the game and beat it several times, call up a friend and play against each other. Your friend can even play as Yamo and chase you around!
*** MISCELLANEOUS ***•Other versions of "Bruce Lee" were made for: Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Atari 8-bit computers, DOS/x386, MSX, and the ZX Spectrum.
Brett Burnell is an independent contractor in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In his free time, he can be seen programming video games, being a referee for Twin Galaxies, going to Retrogaming shows, or just playing with his kids. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|NEScade -- Paperboy|
|by David Lundin, Jr.|
Of the all time arcade classics that stayed with me from my early youth all the way up through high school, Paperboy truly is a game that has stood the test of time. The premise is simple enough, you are a paperboy delivering newspapers on some of the most dangerous streets to ever been seen in suburbia. For a successful delivery, papers must be thrown either in paperboxes or on a subscriber's doorstep. Non-subscribers get no mercy as breakage bonus points are awarded for smashing up their windows and yards with papers. However things aren't that easy, Paperboy's neighborhood is filled with dangers that range from traffic and stray animals to tornados and runaway lawnmowers. After completing the day's rounds, head out to the training course to score some bonus points by performing stunts and paper throwing target practice. Even into the late 1990's a Paperboy arcade upright in close proximity to my high school continued to earn high revenue and the game remains a unique classic. Four years after appearing in the arcade, Paperboy pedaled his way to the NES but results would be mixed.
Paperboy in the arcade was unlike anything else of its time. Not only was the game objective a fresh spin on a classic piece of American youth, the control device went even further to bring players into the experience. Instead of a joystick or a standard control yoke, Paperboy used a replica of bicycle handlebars for bicycle speed and movement. Pressing the handlebars forward caused your bicycle to accelerate and pulling them back slammed on the brakes. Buttons mounted beneath the handlebars triggered paper throwing and of course turning the handlebars steered your bicycle. Thankfully this transfers over well to the NES control pad. Steering doesn't feel as tight and responsive as it did with with handlebars in the arcade but it's still quite passable. Acceleration and braking work out to up and down on the control pad respectively and the B and A buttons are used for throwing papers.
The first difference outside of the expected control changes with the NES version is the omission of difficulty selection. The arcade original begins with the selection of three possible routes, difficulty varying between them: Easy Street, Middle Road, or Hard Way. On the NES the game simply begins although as the week progresses the difficulty ramps up as it did in the arcade. The basics of the game remain exactly the same. Each day begins with an overview of subscribers and non-subscribers on a route map and then the day's work begins. Missing a delivery or damaging a subscriber's home causes them to become a non-subscriber on the next day. All of the spoken audio clips that added a great deal of charm and humor to the arcade original are missing on the NES but that is to be expected. A good job was done with the background music and the in-game and training course music is recreated well. You can tell a genuine effort was put forward to get as much of the audio package replicated as possible. However the graphics are a completely different story.
Originally the world of Paperboy was bright, vibrant, colorful and beautiful. Everything had very detailed animation, smooth graphics, and a very cartoony appearance. The Paperboy alone had impressive fluid animation, his coat flailed in the wind, he pedaled smoothly, steering and bicycle movement was realistic, and there was a real throwing motion to tossing papers. Over on the NES things look drab and dull. There is very little color and animation is lackluster to say the least. Although the basics are still there, many times it's hard to even know what some of the obstacles and dangers in the game are, due to their undetailed sprites. Even though the gameplay mechanic remains true, the poor graphics detract far too much from the visual appeal of the original. This has to be among the worst looking NES games to ever be released.
Anyone that enjoyed the original Paperboy will find little redeeming value in the NES version. For the most part the entire game is there but it looks horrible and plays a lot slower than the original. It's another example of one aspect of an arcade port bringing the entire game down around itself, in this case the graphics. If you hunger for a retrogaming port of Paperboy, pick up the Atari Lynx version, which is a beautiful almost arcade perfect recreation. Outside of needing it to fill holes in your collection, this port of the exploits of a young boy delivering The Daily Sun should be kicked to the curb. No matter how bad it is I still played the NES version quite a bit during the time of its release - I was young, I was stupid, I was out of quarters.
"InsaneDavid" also runs a slowly growing gaming site at http://www.classicplastic.net/dvgi
An Ebayer's Lament by
For almost 6 years I have been regularly selling items on ebay. I mainly focus on selling video games. I started selling off some of my unwanted items to help fund my collecting and hopefully save up enough money to buy those elusive and expensive items. I decided to sell video games because that is what I knew and have a passion for. I could try and sell rare pottery but I know bugger all about that stuff.
I am glad to say that I have made a very nice profit over the years. However I have also found there are quite a number of interesting problems that can be faced when trying to sell video game items all over the world, particularly when some of them are getting on 25 years old or more.
1. HOW DO I TUNE IT IN TO MY TV?
Modern consoles use wonderful plugs called "AV Leads". You simply plug them into the side of your TV and select AV INPUT and everything appears with a crisp picture and clear sound. But early consoles used the dreaded and much feared RF lead to connect to your TV. This meant plugging everything together and then spending the rest of the afternoon trying to tune your console into your TV. Once you had a lovely clear picture and sound, even the slightest bump could muck it all up. And God save you if your mum decided to do the vacuuming. And then there was the problem of each different console requiring a different channel.
So anyway, after selling a beautiful Atari "Woody", I then brace myself for the emails to come flooding in. "I can't get it to work on my TV. How do I tune this thing in? Are you sure it is working? You said it was working perfectly, how come I'm getting diagonal lines running down the screen?"
2. WHERE DID I PUT THE CONTROLLER/POWER ADAPTOR/GAME/OTHER VITAL COMPONENT?
Sometimes I buy a nice console lot from a garage sale, thinking to myself, "I should get a nice little profit for this on ebay." I take it home, test it out and then put it aside to sell sometime in the future. But then at that later time when I am ready to list it on ebay there is always something missing. It might be the power adaptor, the joystick or the RF lead. I know it was there when I first tested it out.
There have been times when I have searched my whole house looking for some vital component but I just can't find it. So I replace it with a similar item, list it, sell it, package it up and send it off the buyer. After all that, guess what I find sitting on top of a shelf? That's right, the missing component!
3. IT WAS WORKING FINE WHEN I SENT IT.
A problem with classic consoles and games is that they become more and more fragile with age. A problem with the Post Office is that they do not seem to understand the term, "Fragile".
I thoroughly test everything I sell so I know that when it is packed up, it has left my home in perfect working order. But after a 3000km trip across the country and being dropped and banged and squashed by Postal workers, it can be a bit too much for some of the little electronic components. So then come the angry emails. "This Commodore 64 doesn't work. I want my money back."
I am happy to make a refund or replace broken items, as long as the buyer sends the items back to me. Well can you imagine my surprise when I check the "broken" console and I find that the return trip must have knocked everything back into place? It must have been a miracle! Or is it just a rather dumb buyer?!?
4. MY OWN STUPID FAULT.
I like to give the things I sell a good clean before I photograph and list them on ebay. While I do try and be careful, sometimes I have done some really stupid things.
One time I was cleaning a very nice Commodore Vic 20. Somehow I managed to snap one of the keys off as I was cleaning the keyboard. Thinking I could easily glue the key back on, I then dropped the bottle of super-glue, causing it to splash over the keyboard, totally ruining a potentially profitable sale.
But my worst blunder was to do with a mint condition Vectrex console. I had already sold the Vectrex for a very handsome some of money. I had some suitable boxes in my office, so I thought I would take the Vectrex to my office, pack it up there and then take it to the Post Office. But as I walked out my front door of my home to put the Vectrex in my car, I tripped on one of my kid's shoes. The Vectrex slipped from my hands and landed on my brick path with a loud smashing sound. I nearly cried. The screen was completely shattered, and I had no choice but to send off a refund to the buyer.
So that is my story of some of the challenges I have faced as a seller of classic video games and consoles. What about you? If you have sold stuff on ebay I would love to hear your funny stories.
Nintendo Realm - Early December 1985 by
Ball released by Pony Canyon
on December 5th, 1985. Released in the U.S. as Lunar Pool by FCI on
Throughout video game history, there have been many takes on billiards, but very few of them have ever been as imaginative as Lunar Ball. With 60 different tables to complete, Lunar Ball offers an unquestionable variety of challenges. The accuracy of the controls are surprisingly sophistocated for a Famicom game. Lunar Ball comes very close to offering a full 360 degree shot choice for the player, and utilizes the now ubiquitous power meter to determine the strength of your shot. Each table has a different shape and set of pockets, and typically has 6 or 7 balls to pocket. Bonus points are awarded for consecutive balls sunk, and even more points if those balls were sunk in numerical order. No matter how many other games I move on to, I always enjoy coming back to this one from time to time. It's a perfect example of a game that doesn't try to do anything well other than what it's supposed to and succeeds at doing it.
Star Luster released by Namco on December 6th, 1985.
Star Luster is an unsual departure for Namco who, prior to this release, mostly ported their arcade games to the Famicom. Star Luster marks a more original offering from Namco, and yet it is clearly inspired by a much earlier game: Star Raiders. Star Raiders was released on the Atari 8-bit family of computers in 1980, and was an unprecedented success as a computer video game. Providing players with a "cockpit view" of the action, it almost felt 3D in an age long before 3D gaming was commonplace. Star Luster borrows heavily from the formula that Star Raiders established, including warping from one location to another via a galactic map, and monitoring the relative position of your enemies with a two dimension radar. It even includes docking with a star base for refuling purposes. Where it departs is the use of the second button as your ship's accelerator (which promptly slows down if the button is released.) While Namco's presentation of the formula is much prettier to look at, it doesn't pull it off as magically as the older Atari version does. Therefore, I only recommend that you try out this game if you were a fan of Star Raiders and want to see how Star Luster compares.
|Lunar Ball||Star Luster|
by DB-Soft on December 7th, 1985.
This game screams "no effort" when it comes to design. A horizontal scrolling shooter in the vein of Defender, if the game's repetitiveness was it's only fault, there would be nothing more to say about the game. The music gets beyond annoying when you realize that it is only 2 measures long and repeats indefinitely. There are two forms of firing, but only one button is used for both instead of mapping each attack to either button independently. This appears to be a sequel to a shooter that DB-Soft made for the MSX computer, and it retains the same level of quality, despite the Famicom's technical superiority.
1942 released by Capcom on
December 11th, 1985. Released in the U.S. on November, 1986.
Capcom's 1942 may not be remembered nearly as fondly as it's younger brother 1943, but compared to other games released around the same time, it's quite admirable. The fact is, 1942 was one of the first games ever produced by Capcom in the arcades OR for a home system. If you're not familiar with it, it's a vertically scrolling shooter, very much in the same vein as Xevious, only without the air-to-land bomb component. Rather than mixing air and ground attacks, Capcom chose to focus on the air attacks with a dazzling array of complex flight plans mixed with independant rouge enemies that strike out of formation. Add to that the concept of larger planes which take a great deal more damage before going down, and you have an experience that could probably still challenge all but the most hardened shooter fans. 1942 also introduces the notion of a limited supply "uber" weapon that can anhilate everything on the screen, a concept which is still at the core of popular shooters today. Power ups for your plane are limited to increasing you shots from two to four and adding smaller wingmen to your arsinel, as well as a resupply for your special weapon. If you could chose between 1942 and 1943, then you would probably choose 1943, if only for the ability to enter a password and start in the middle, but 1942 is an interesting look at not only Capcom's roots, but the roots of modern day shooters in general.
|Choujikuu Yousai Macross||1942|
released by ASCII on December 14th, 1985.
This appears to be an early form of a strategy game that originally appeared on the MSX computer. Essentially, you start out as a lone king who must battle his way back to his kingdom. Along the way, you can transform trees and other various obstacles in to allies or two different classes, Soldiers and Knights. Each character (including the king) has a special ability and role. Of course, it's not a simple cake walk back to your castle, and you will be launched upon by hoards of enemies. If you or any of your soldiers collide with an enemy, you automatically enter in to a battle. The outcome of the battle is automatically determined by the computer, and the game progresses as long as the king stays alive. You can switch the controls so that you only move the king, all of the Soldiers, all of the Knights, or everyone together. Of course, it gets difficult to move everyone together as there are too many enemies and objects in the way to move down the screen uniformally. Wrapping up, this game requires a lot of patience to fully understand and enjoy, but there are some FAQs on gamefaqs.com that might help speed up the process for you.
|Dough Boy||Bokosuka Wars|
*Phew* I made it. That wasn't too bad. All in all, a nice solid issue. My goal this issue was to get everything done just the way it should be. Over the next few weeks, I will try a little experimentation with the look and spruce it up wherever possible. All of your feedback is greatly appreciated.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Adam King on behalf of the RTM staff for all of his years of service and hard work.Copyright © 2006 Alan Hewston & Scott Jacobi. All related copyrights and trademarks are acknowledged.