The quest for the grail is not Archaeology, it’s a race against your torch burning out…

January 19, 2013

IMG_0907As far as trilogies go, Indiana Jones ranks right up there as one of my all time favorites. What’s not to love about treasure hunting, whip cracking, Nazi bashing, mythology sensationalising adventure?

Nothing, that’s what. There’s nothing not to love about it.


So it’d be crazy for me not to give a game based on such a fantastic set of movies a red hot go, which led me to fire up Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade on the Commodore 64 for a play today. Verdict? Not too shabby – not too shabby at all. Like a lot of C64 platformers, twitch-sensitive timing is the order of the day as you guide Indy through level after level whipping bad guys, avoiding falling rocks and avoiding that most toxic of platform game elements – water.



IMG_0909Last Crusade employs an interesting game mechanic in the use of torches scattered throughout the levels.  Each torch illuminates bad guys, falling debris and other things worth shining light on, but they are finite objects. You need to always be on the look out for the next torch to pick up, lest the one you’re carrying burn out and leave you in the dark and utterly clueless.

From a few minutes with the game, I’d have to say I’ll be going

back to give it a proper work out. From the great 8-bit rendition of the Indiana Jones theme music, to the satisfaction created when a few well timed jumps land you out of danger and onto your next torch, Last Crusade hits all the right platform genre targets and is well worth some of your retro gaming time.

You must collect them all to stand a chance…

January 7, 2013

aIMG_0758I make no secret of having a thing for Street Fighter.

I’m shit at the game mind you (I mean I can throw a few dragon punches and whatnot but generally speaking against anyone with a crumb of skill I’m going to get busted) but I really like it. I really like the franchise. I love the merchandise.

I’ve got action figures, G.I Joe vehicles and Street Fighter SNES boxes littering the games room, which is exactly why when I came across these Kidrobot  Street Fighter “mini” figurines, I couldn’t pass them up. Nope, I tried – but each one jumped into my hands at approximately the same time $13 flew out of my wallet at Minotaur Games in Melbourne city.

I could remain composed, but there’s really no point holding back, these things are fun-sized awesome. With 20 different Street Fighter characters to collect (including color variations of the same fighter, e.g. a Blue Guile as well as Green)  the twist comes with the fact you have no idea which one you’re going to get until you’ve bought it. There’s nothing on the packaging to give away which character you’ve walked away with, so it makes collecting the entire set an interesting journey, and opening each box a slightly nerve wracking experience.



I can’t be 100% sure, but I think the numbers under each character indicate the odds of finding one in a box? Maybe? If that’s true then I’m pretty stoked, because I managed to grab the 1/80 ‘?’ character after only my third box. (Spoiler – it’s M. Bison).

Each box also comes with a cool sticker of the character, which you can, well, stick on stuff. And things. For now, I’m preserving mine until the right surface presents itself as in dire need of Street Fighter wallpapering.

Until then, I wait and hoard…

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King Of The Bargains

January 6, 2013

IMG_0731-P30I just thrashed out a couple of rounds of King of the Fighters ’98 on the Neo Geo, and thought I’d stop in to let you know two seemingly important facts (at least to me).

1) KOF ’98 is a fucking killer fighting game. Massive roster, beefy arcade sounds and glorious big bold graphics, KOF ’98 on the Neo Geo AES truly is an arcade cab stuffed into a home console.

2) I consider this game one of my great bargain finds. The game itself regularly sells on eBay for around the $100 – $150 mark, so considering I scored this, a boxed Neo Geo AES itself, and a boxed second Neo Geo CD controller for the sum of $150 total….well, chuffed is a word I’d throw in there.

If you have an AES, then save your pennies up for this title. I’m not usually a big advocate of hunting down expensive games, but this is a no brainer. In my opinion if you own this, you don’t really need any other KOF games (although most of the others seem a fair bit cheaper, so if you’re on a budget then that may dictate what you get). Anyway, I’ll leave you with some tasty pictures of the action;

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One SNES, with a dash of mint.

January 6, 2013

Untitled-1By and large I believe retro game collections should be amassed to be played.  Sure, all this stuff looks good on a shelf, but if you’re not playing those games, if you’re not losing yourself in alien worlds, hunting desperately for one more enchanted crystal or working up a frantic sweat trying to stay in the final round against Sub Zero, then you have to ask yourself if collecting retro video game stuff is really for you.

Perhaps you’d like to start a stamp collection, instead?

Unlike many other forms of collectible, video games offer not only the thrill of the hoard, but the thrill of the interaction too, something I’ve covered in more length here.  There are some rare exceptions though. There are a few items even in my own personal collection which I don’t play, or use. I own them purely for the sake of owning them, for the sake of knowing I rescued them from the world like Indiana Jones nabbing an ancient idol from a long lost temple, but I figure it’s okay to pepper a well played collection of gear with the occasional shelf-only piece. One item I don’t think I’ll ever open and play, is my minty never-been-used SNES console. It’s in absolutely fantastic condition, among the best I’ve ever seen, and I think it’d be a crime to take it all out, set it up, and actually use it.


There’s a certain gleeful appeal in knowing no cartridge has ever been inserted into the machine, no-one has ever mashed the shit out of the controller in order to trigger E. Honda’s one-hundred-hand-slap.  The device is by and large in the same condition it would have been on on the store shelf. It’s the ultimate in time travel here folks, the whole insect trapped in amber ride.


IMG_0720I figure it’s okay to have one SNES that I keep in this condition considering I own two others, one of which I’d consider my regular ‘workhorse’ SNES.  I did have two units in this condition, but sold the other one for a princely sum on eBay to fund something or other. Likely another gaming purchase. Jesus, I’ve got issues.


Mint SNES aside though, I really do feel it appropriate to get on my soapbox and become preachy about playing your collection of games. Don’t let them all sit on a shelf gathering dust! What a waste of talent, imagination and style if you do. Those cartridges, CD’s and disks are the key to hours of entertainment done in a style that’s so rarely matched in these days of photo-realism and big budget titles.  So don’t get into the bad habit of grabbing stuff just to line a shelf.

Make sure you load up that tape, insert that cart, or load that CD. Give as many titles as you can the chance, if only for a moment, to trigger a happy memory of gaming past or – even better – create an entirely new one….

PS – I don’t have anything against stamp collectors, really. I think it’s totally trendy. I’ll try and remember to send you some of the stamps from my next delivery of gob-smackingly amazing gaming merchandise, I promise.

Amiga A570 CDROM drive

January 6, 2013

As far as strange business decisions go, Commodore was always capable of making the highlight reel. The Amiga A570 CDROM attachment was certainly right up there, for more than one reason. The A570 was compatible with the Amiga 500 and only the Amiga 500, a model of Amiga that was discontinued by the release of the external CDROM drive.  The base Amiga that was being sold at the time – the Amiga 600 – went without ever having a similar device released for it (in fact the 600 has the impressive reputation as one of the least expandable legacy Amiga models available).  The fact that an Amiga 500 with an A570 attached was also functionally identical to Commodore’s other CD based platform – the multi-media CDTV – and could run all CDTV software without issue hurt sales and confused the user community to no end.


So why talk about it then? Because that which failed at retail release often makes a fine and interesting retro collectible and the A570 is no exception.

If you have an Amiga 500 and have the chance to grab an A570 (uncommon though they are) then do so. It’s a cheap way to get into some great CDTV software and games like the CDTV release of Xenon, a game possessed of some of the most rocking soundtrack music ever. That’s right, ever.

The A570 simply bolts directly into the side of your Amiga 500 via the Zorro II expansion port on the left side of the Amiga, zero configuration required – true plug-and-play!


My A570 is sadly bereft of its Commodore badge. I hope the neighbours don’t notice.

With the A570 attached, your humble A500 will boot to the CDTV animated logo screen. I’m willing to admit straight up that this is freaking awesome to see on screen. I remember as a kid seeing this logo on CDTV systems advertised in Amiga magazines and thinking how awesome it would be to own a CDTV. These days with the prohibitive price and scarcity of working CDTV systems, this is the closest I’ll likely ever come!


Back when the image of a CD disc was the epitome of cool.

There are a few downsides to the A570 design. First up, it needs its own power supply to run, and not just any PSU, but the lovable Amiga ‘brick’. The exact same brick in fact, as the Amiga 500 itself. While this means you have to run both power supplies to keep an Amiga and A570 running, if you happen to find a CDROM drive without a power supply and have a spare A500 PSU, you can use that to power it.  The other downside, is the devices use of CDROM caddys.

“CDROM what now?” I hear you say. Believe it or not, in the early days of CD ROM media, some devices required that you put your CD into a plastic caddy before inserting it into the drive. Pain in the arse? Hell yes. Capable of driving you to madness when you can’t find a caddy anywhere? You better believe it.


Why caddy, why?


I’m looking forward to chasing down some ISO images of CDTV software to play around with and going through what will no doubt be the arduous task of finding the right media settings for burning said images to CD. For now though, I have a handful of original games and discs to muck around with. The gem of the bunch is the Assassin’s Ultimate Games CD compilation.  A disc packed with 600 MB of public domain games and programs for the Amiga (some made in AMOS, some not) the CD has hours of entertainment stuffed into its easy to navigate menus. Highly recommended if you end up with an A570.


Empire strikes out

January 1, 2013

Today I learnt a valuable lesson. The 1980s Star Wars arcade games don’t translate well onto home platforms, not even the mighty Amiga.  I fired up Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back today and was left feeling pretty underwhelmed when comparing the experience with my time spent in the cockpit of the original arcade cabinet.

It seems that when you strip away the cabinet itself and replace the original vector graphics with standard wireframe 3D, Star Wars loses appeal like a clean shaven Wookie. The conversion is reasonably faithful, with good sampled speech from the films and decent frame rate as you whirl around taking out Tie Fighters and Walkers but the whole gig pales in comparison with the arcade experience.

Probably a game best suited to being put on the Vectrex, and then having the Vectrex mounted inside a replica Star Wars cockpit. But then, if you’re going to go to all that trouble, you might as well just shell out a couple of grand for the arcade machine!

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Entering the world of Amstrad

December 31, 2012

Thanks to a very generous friend of mine, I’m now the proud owner of a complete Amstrad CPC464. I say complete because while it’s quite common to come across the keyboard components themselves (which have a built in tape deck) they are pretty much useless without a specific Amstrad colour or mono monitor to run them off, as the monitor contains the power supply!

So imagine my unfettered glee when I was presented with a CPC464 keyboard, monitor, disk drive and games in tasty working order. Behold, the Amstrad!



I was pretty excited when I noticed on the HxC floppy emulator site that it was compatible with Amstrad CPC machines, unfortunately the CPC464 is not among them. The reason you can’t use the HxC is due to the fact the emulator requires not only a data connection, but power to be provided by the computer its connected to. The Amstrad external disk drive only exposes a ribbon cable for data, there’s no power connection to utilise. I suppose I could pop the lid on the Amstrad disk drive, but I’d rather speak to a few people more knowledgeable than I before doing that.

I did load up a couple of tape games, and have found the CPC a very curious platform. I wouldn’t say it’s as strong as the C64 from a gaming sense, but from reading some of the literature on programming with the CPC, I think it’d be a blast to learn how to code for.

Anyway, it’s New Years Eve, so I need to get my BBQ and my Cider on, and wish you all a happy and safe entrance into 2013!!!

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