10 Little Known Facts About Sonic The Hedgehog

Sonic_title

I love video gaming facts, especially those little known about ones. When it comes to Sonic, I knew about his original working-title name, Mr Needlemouse, but I definitely didn’t know about the early designs having him lead a music band with a Madonna girlfriend!

The Alltime10s crew have given us 10 very little known facts about Sonic The Hedgehog. Watch the video, you may learn something new about Sega’s speedy blue mascot.


source: Alltime10s

Interview With The New Video Games High Score Record Keeper

HS_titleI have always had a competing streak in me. Be it at sports or video games, I love competing with friends to see who could get a higher score. When it comes to video gaming high score record keeping, there is a new player in town, High Score.

High Score is not your average video yourself playing a game and then send it to a moderator setup. The site relies on your peers voting on the authenticity of your high score, be it via a photo or video. This decentralised approach seems to work quite well by engaging all the registered users on the site. There is also an incentive for members to vote, as they earn points towards their coloured belt and rank (just like in martial arts!).

We sat down and spoke to the brainchild behind High Score, Serious. We asked Serious everything from the creation of High Score to his personal tastes in classic video games. Hold on tight and read on!

AUSRETROGAMER [ARG]: Hey Serious, I will start with the obvious question, how did High Score come about? Walk us through its inception to execution.
Serious: High Score is something that I have wanted to exist for a long time, years before I had the idea that I should create it myself. I would actually go to highscore.com in my browser every year or so, hoping (unrealistically, perhaps) to find it would be a place where I could compete with other players on my favourite classic games, and a place where I could share my best scores. I had a pretty clear idea in my mind of what sort of a site I had hoped it would be, and sometime in 2013 I finally said to myself “I can create this”, and so I committed myself to making it happen.

ARG: What is your goal with High Score?
Serious: I have lots of goals! I want High Score to be a place that brings back the feeling of being in an arcade in the early eighties. When a new game came out, there were often people lined up around you waiting for their turn to play, so you often had an audience watching you play, and you also got to watch other people play while you waited for your turn. I’m attempting with High Score to recreate something like that experience, online. I want to turn game collectors into game players. There are tens of thousands of people out there who collect classic video games and then leave them sitting on a shelf most of the time. I want these collectors to dust off all of these games that are in their collections and start playing against other people like themselves for high scores. I also want people to have a place where they can easily show off their gaming accomplishments, no matter what system or game it is; a place where they can show their friends what they’ve done (regardless of whether it is any kind of record or not).

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ARG: Do you have any help in administering the site or is it a solo effort? Does it take up a lot of your time?
Serious: Right now, it is just me. The administration isn’t usually that much work. I typically spend about an hour or two a day on it. However, I spend dozens of hours each week working on enhancements, and trying to think of ways to make the site better. I don’t mind this, as this is a project I am very passionate about, so it doesn’t feel like work to me, and my excitement about it gives me the energy to work long into the night on it. When the administration side of it becomes too much for me to handle by myself, I’ll start to ask other members of the site to help me with it. There’s lots of great guys on the site who have been extremely helpful in lots of ways (like researching all of the difficulty settings on hundreds of games), so there’s definitely some great people who I know would be willing to help out in other ways if needed.

ARG: High Score has a great community feel about it. We love the ‘voting’ system on high score submissions. Is this the best feature of High Score?
Serious: Yes, absolutely. This is the essence of what it is all about: winning the recognition of your peers. When you post a score, other members of the site review your submission, and vote on whether or not it should be accepted into the site’s rankings, based on the evidence of your accomplishment that you provided. Right now, for your score to be accepted into the database, you need at least 25 people to look at your evidence and 80% of them must vote in your favor. When I first launched the site, I wasn’t sure if this idea of people voting on whether or not they believed a score was legit would actually work. I was worried that very few people would want to look at other people’s scores and vote on them, but I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at how much participation there has been in the voting, and it has been working extremely well. There are so many people voting that some people have actually come to expect that the voting on their scores should be done in a couple of days, and they’re sometimes surprised when it takes longer than that.

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ARG: How many gamers are currently registered on High Score?
Serious: High Score is very new. There are actually only about 500 registered participants right now, and most of them have found the site through word-of-mouth. These 500 or so users have already submitted over 6,300 scores over the last few months, so they’re pretty active. I’m often surprised by how much people get into it (and I think they sometimes also surprise themselves). The site is still in Beta (meaning it is very much a work-in-progress), so the people who are participating now have an opportunity to have a large influence over how High Score will evolve and grow. The people who currently use the site are always giving me ideas and feedback, and this is the main thing that drives the improvements I am always making to the site. If anyone wants to be a part of that, I very much welcome them to join and share their ideas on how High Score can become even better.

ARG: Have you had any problems with users / gamers on the site? Or are gamers generally behaving themselves?
Serious: Almost everyone on the site is really cool. People generally have a very positive attitude and they’re having fun with it. There have been a few people who have caused some headaches, but those cases have been very few and far between. It seems like most of the people who cause problems tend to go away after a little while.

ARG: For gamers out there that haven’t registered as yet, how would you pitch High Score to them?
Serious: Games are much more fun when you are competing with someone or trying to beat your own record. This is what High Score is all about. You don’t need to be an amazing player to compete on High Score, as there are multiple levels of competition. World records are cool, but that’s not all that High Score is about. High Score is really about your best score and competing with others. You can kind of think of High Score as being like Xbox Live for your classic console. Even if you think that there isn’t going to be anyone out there who will want to compete against you in your favorite games, you may be surprised. Often, people who have never heard of the game you are playing will go out and download it after they have seen your score and they’ll start competing with you. Even if you don’t feel ready to submit your own scores, you can get involved with the voting. Just give it a try. I think you’ll be surprised at how much fun it can be.

ARG: Do you hold any gaming high score records yourself?
Serious: I’m not an extraordinary player. Many of the players on High Score can put me to shame on any game I play. My best game is probably the original version of Sid Meier’s Civilization. However, people usually seem more impressed by my Odyssey 2 U.F.O. score.

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ARG: I’ll jump to the personal questions now. What was your first video gaming system? When was that?
Serious: My first game console was the Magnavox Odyssey 2, which we got around 1978. I remember in the months leading up to that purchase, seeing the Bally Professional Arcade (later renamed the Astrocade) and the Atari 2600 in newspaper ads. We could have ended up with any of them. It was just luck that the department store my Dad went to (Sears or Montgomery Wards) carried the Odyssey 2 and no other console. I had played Out of this World and Helicopter Rescue in the store before, and had been absolutely mesmerized by those games, so I was excited to have one at home. My Dad, my best friend, and I played that console countless hours on our big Curtis Mathes console television. U.F.O. and Invaders from Hyperspace probably got played the most until K.C. Munchkin and Freedom Fighters came out. My best friend had an Atari 2600, and I literally had trouble prying him away from K.C. Munchkin. I remember making up lies about how the console needed to cool down to get him to stop playing. It was really that bad! I was jealous of my friend’s Atari 2600, due to all of the arcade conversions. At the time, we all just really wanted to have the arcade games at home, where we could play them endlessly. However, once Pac-Man was released on the 2600, my friend and his family became completely disgusted with the Atari. My Dad and I ended up getting an Atari 2600 ourselves a year or so later, and had years of fun with it, playing Missile Command, Empire Strikes Back, and other games. Playing the Odyssey 2 and the Atari 2600 back then were some of the best times I had as a kid, which is probably why these are the two primary systems that I collect games for.

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ARG: Most North American gamers regard the NES as the king of 8-bit gaming systems. However, you buck that trend by opting for the Commodore 64 – why is that?
Serious: Well, I never had an NES when I was young. My friends and I all had C64s, so I have history and feelings of nostalgia with the Commie that I don’t have for Nintendo. The NES wasn’t common in our area, for some reason. It was probably the cost of it. I grew up in a blue collar, working class area, and the cost of a game console or computer was a big investment for most families. I think parents saw the C64 as an investment in their kid’s future, but an NES was just a games machine. Elite was probably the game I played most on my C64, which had amazing depth to it. Boulder Dash was another favorite. Both of these games were pretty complex, requiring lots of thought, but in completely different ways. A C64 gaming experience I’ll never forget was playing Neuromancer all the way through (though it is pretty linear, so I can’t say it has much replay value). Besides games, I spent a great deal of time running and calling BBSes (at 300 baud!). Customizing my own BBS software is where I really learned to program. My experience and memory of BBS’ing is something that was a source of inspiration for creating High Score. I love the sounds of the C64′s SID chip, and I still listen to SID chip music all the time (especially when I’m programming).

ARG: Were you an arcade player? If so, what were some of your most memorable machines?
Serious: Yes. Me and my friends dumped every quarter we could find into arcade games all over town. One of the earliest machines that I remember playing much was a sit-down cockpit version of Exidy’s Star Fire, which was at a local arcade called the Gold Mine. If you aren’t familiar with the game, it is basically Star Wars (the logo even looks the same). You shoot down TIE fighters, etc. It came out around 1977, right after the original Star Wars movie was released, and it was a blatant rip-off. (I don’t know how Exidy got away with it). The games we had at the corner grocery store in our neighbourhood that we played the most were Galaxian, Defender, and Star Castle. There was a period of time (1981-1982) where there were little arcades popping up all over town. We’d hop on our bikes and go out exploring, and would occasionally discover a new little game spot that had opened, with some arcade game we’d never seen before (Super Cobra was one of these that I remember encountering on one of our excursions). More often than not, we’d end up standing in front of the machine banging on the buttons while it was in attract mode, because we didn’t have any quarters between us. I bet we were a real nuisance to the arcade operators.

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ARG: Do you have an all-time favourite game(s)?
Serious: Oh, gosh! That is a tough question [ARG: We love asking the tough questions]. My answer would probably change depending on the day you ask it, but right now I’d say Sinistar. You have to play it on a real arcade machine to appreciate it. The controls aren’t accurate enough under emulation, which makes it almost impossible to play. There is a tiny arcade in Las Vegas that currently has a cockpit version of Sinistar and it is in beautiful shape. The place is called Flipperspiel Wunderland. The cockpit version has stereo sound, and playing it is a blast.

ARG: What is your favourite genre?
Serious: I love classic sci-fi shooters. The arcade versions of Sinistar, Phoenix, Pleiades, Robotron, Scramble, Star Castle, and Galaxian to name a few. U.F.O. would probably be my favorite console game of the genre.

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ARG: Last but not least – Sega, Nintendo, Atari or Commodore – which would you pick and why?
Serious: Atari, hands-down. The 2600 is such a great iconic machine, it is hard for me to put it in the same class as anything else. Plus, it is so much fun to collect for. All of the game systems that came after the Atari tried to distinguish themselves by having the most awesome graphics, but the the 2600 was just pure fun.

With that glowing Atari endorsement, we close off the interview and part ways. We would like to thank Serious for taking time out to answer our questions and providing us an insight into the High Score site and his retro gaming epxeriences. If you haven’t registered yourself on High Score, we highly recommend that you do – you never know, you may be a video gaming high score record holder!

 

Super Mario Comes To Life

SM_aliveOh my! So this is what happens when you take a toilet break during your Mario gaming! Hide your good chinaware and duck under that deadly cannon. I hope your home and contents insurance policy covers Mario destruction!


source: Jhoofnail

 

Super Volvo Kart: Epic Splits

SplitsWho says Mario isn’t flexible? It isn’t just Jean-Claude Van Damme that has legs that defy the laws of physics. Mario shows that he truly has the mind set to master the most epic of splits. I just hope there are no bananas on that track. Take it away Mario! 


source: GuizDP

Stained-Glass Style 80s Movie and Game Posters

Sometimes, the less that is said, the better. When it comes to art, it should be left to speak for itself.

With that in mind, we give you the totally awesome iconic 80′s movies and video game stained-glass posters by Italian twin brother design team, Van Orton Design. If this doesn’t give you a nostalgic injection, then I don’t know what will! Wipe your drool and enjoy. 

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s_Zelda s_BTTF

s_blade_runner

s_BTILC

s_Goonies

s_BIG

s_Gremlins

s_terminator

s_robocop

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 Source: Van Orton Design

 

The Art Of Atari: From Pixels To Paintbrush

Were you one of those kids that would stare in wonder at the Atari VCS/2600 game boxes? I recall being wide-eyed whenever I spotted the box art of any Atari game. Walking to the counter, I was somehow spatially aware even though I would have both hands clasped around the box and my eyes fixated on the art. The nostalgia of remembering those times is truly intoxicating.

The still-in-development coffee table book, The Art Of Atari: From Pixels To Paintbrush, is a trip down nostalgia lane, celebrating the golden age of video gaming box art design. Creator Tim Lapetino is hunting down 136 original Atari game box artworks, some of which could be seen below. To say we are excited would be a gross understatement!

Defender
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Video Chess
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Millipede
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Star Raiders
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Warlords
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image source: Hexanine and Polygon

Son Of A Glitch: Mario Kart 64

MK_64Let’s be honest, when it comes to Mario Kart games, you are either a Super Mario Kart or a Mario Kart 64 fan. I definitely fall in the latter fan group – Mario Kart 64 always felt more polished and fun to play (relax SMK fans, put those pitchforks away!).

The A+Start with Andy team have found some very cool glitches and skips on Mario Kart 64 which I will now exploit and possibly cause a rise in rage levels with my fellow karting friends. Get ready!


source: A+Start