Arcade Legends Of The Golden Age

ArcadeLegendsGrowing up during the golden age of arcade gaming, I didn’t know nor care who created them, I just wanted to have fun playing them. I was always on the lookout for titles that other gamers and friends were talking about. Who was Dave Theurer or Eugene Jarvis? These names didn’t mean a thing to me as a youngster. As long as I had coins to pump into the machines, I was happy.

With passing of time, my curiosity got the better of me. Forgetting about the Sega, Atari, Taito, Nintendo, Namco arcade brands, I was curious to know who the human beings were behind some of the industry’s most iconic arcade games.

This is my way of paying homage to the real creative legends of the arcade games I loved (still love) playing.

Welcome to the ausretrogamer ‘Arcade Legends Hall of Fame’.

YuSuzukiName: Yu Suzuki
Company: Sega Enterprises
Games: After Burner, Out Run, Space Harrier, Hang-On, Virtua Fighter
Comment: The Michaelangelo of the video games industry

 

EugeneJarvisName: Eugene Jarvis
Company: Atari, Williams Electronics
Games: Defender, Robotron:2084, Stargate, Smash TV, NARC
Comment: Arcade games and pinball designer extraordinaire

 

EdLoggName: Ed Logg
Company: Atari
Games: Asteroids, Centipede, Millipede, Gauntlet series
Comment: Quarter guzzling arcade master

 

DaveTheurerName: Dave Theurer
Company: Atari
Games: Missile Command, Tempest, I,Robot
Comment: Pioneering game designer that was inspired by Pong

 

YoshikiName: Yoshiki Okamoto
Company: Konami, Capcom
Games: Time Pilot, Gyruss, 1942, Gun.SmokeFinal Fight, Street Fighter II
Comment: The arcade games innovator

 

ShigeruMiyamotoName: Shigeru Miyamoto
Company: Nintendo
Game: Donkey Kong
Comment: Critically acclaimed influencer of the video gaming industry

 

ToruIwataniName: Toru Iwatani
Company: Namco
Game: Pac-Man
Comment: World record holder of the most installed arcade machines

 

TomohiroNishikadoName: Tomohiro Nishikado
Company: Taito
Game: Space Invaders
Comment: The granddaddy of the killer arcade game

 

YoshihisaKishimotoName: Yoshihisa Kishimoto
Company: Technos
Game: Double Dragon
Comment: The grandfather of the beat’em up genre

 

It is always difficult composing such a list as there will be other deserving arcade game creators that will miss out. Who would be your pick for your arcade legends hall of fame?

 

Atari: Game Over

Atari_GameOverBack in April of this year, we reported on the impending dig of the sacred Atari burial site in Alamogordo, New Mexico. We all waited with bated breath as photos trickled in showing what the landfill was hiding all these years.

After a few months, Fuel Entertainment Studios and Xbox Entertainment Studios have now released their first official trailer of the upcoming documentary. We are definitely looking forward to this documentary, but the focus on THAT one game that Howard Scott Warshaw created that brought down the industry is misleading at the least. We hope the finished film will have a balanced perspective of what really happened over 30 years ago.


source: Xbox

Nintendo and Atari Mashup: The Atari Lynx II GameCube Portable

Last week we posted an article on some great looking custom Nintendo consoles. Not all custom made consoles are equal. This week, we have this Nintendo and Atari portable mashup – is it blasphemy or pure genius? We’ll let you be the judge. If you ever wished for a portable Nintendo GameCube, then read on.

gc_Lynx_GC_shell

Crammed inside an Atari Lynx II shell lays the heart and brains of a Nintendo GameCube. The brainchild of this portable Frankenstein is Akira. The features of the GC-Lynx are impressive to say the least:

• Case made out of an Atari Lynx II console
• GameCube blue/purple paint job with glossy finish
• GameCube PAL motherboard
• Silent IBM fan, customised for optimal airflow
• All original Nintendo GCN controls and sticks
• Complete analogue trigger (L and R buttons)
• 4.3 Inch widescreen; VGA Screen with 480 x 272 resolution
• Original Nintendo component video chip wired to produce VGA out
• Shielded composite video wire to reduce interference.
• WiiKey Fusion modchip flashed with Swiss autoboot firmware
• 6400 mAH batteries – provides 3 hours of play time
• Battery indicator with 5 LEDs – lets you know how much power is left
• 128 MB memory card soldered directly onto the motherboard (GameCube slot-A)
• SD Gecko adapter to run homebrew and emulators through Swiss (GameCube slot-B)
• Stereo sound speakers, Used 2x iPhone 4 speakers for very clear sound
• Switching stereo headphone jack
• Analogue volume control
• Video controls to access display menu and switch between A/V (composite) and VGA display
• System can play from wall socket while being charged (comes with charger and power adapter)
• Weight is 700 grams
• Size of GC-Lynx: (w) 235mm x (h)114mm x (d)50mm or 9.25″(w) x 4.5″(h) x 2″(d)
• Comes with 1 x 64GB SD card for GameCube games (wasp fusion slot) and 1 x 32GB for homebrew, games and emulators (GameCube Slot-B)

gc_Lynx_and_GC_Lynx

There has been a fair bit of backlash on custom consoles on a number of forums. Even though we may not be a fan of this one (Ed: that’s because you are such an Atarian!), we are still in awe of the people that come up with these ideas and executing on them. To read Akira’s trial and tribulations on his GC-Lynx creation, go here.

What do you think?


source: soepschoen

Generosity Of An Atarian

Atarian_XEGS_hdr

I may have said this before, but I will say it again, the best part of retro gaming is being part of a like-minded, considerate and passionate worldwide community.

I have met many great people and cemented many friendships due to a mutual love of retro gaming. Aleks ‘Serby’ Svetislav (Weird and Retro) is one person I am particularly grateful to have met. Apart from sharing my passion for all things retro, Aleks is a very cool guy.

During one of the retro gaming community events, Aleks showed off his immaculate Atari 8-bit XEGS. As a one-eyed C64 fan, I was intrigued by this part-computer, part-console 8-bit from Atari. I had never experienced the XEGS till this point. After a few hours of play, Aleks’ love of the Atari 8-bit rubbed off on me. The XEGS bug had bitten me hard! It wasn’t long before I hunted and obtained a XEGS of my own.

To welcome me to the XEGS gaming family, Aleks gifted me three still-in-shrinkwrap games – Blue Max, Desert Falcom and David’s Midnight Magic . Now I was truly ready to start playing on the XEGS!

The generosity shown to me by Aleks was (and still is) truly humbling. When life gets too tough, I always think of how lucky and thankful I am of having great friends in this big wide world of ours. Game on!

The new XEGS games stack. Should I open them?
XE_stack

Bustin’em open!
XE_cut_open

I love the smell of freshly opened XEGS games in the morning
XE_open_carcass

Atari’s 8-Bit Home Computers: A Belated Love Affair

Ah Atari, how I love thee, but back in the ’80s it wasn’t all love. You see, I chose the Commodore 64 as my 8-bit home computer. Do I have any regrets? Absolutely not! But, with my nostalgia tinted glasses on and the benefit of hindsight, perhaps I should have given the Atari 8-bit (affectionately known as A8) home computer range more attention.

With the passing of time and my nostalgic nerves tingling, I had the urge to delve into the world of A8 computing. To my surprise, the Atari 800XL I procured turned out to be a lot of fun. It was built to withstand a nuclear catastrophe, just the way I like it. Whilst on this A8 bandwagon, I also experienced the Atari XEGS system – the half computer, half console beast.  This sudden interest in the A8 home computers piqued my 8-bit senses. I knew that I had to find out more about the lineage of Atari’s 8-bit home computers.

The Atari 8-Bit Home Computer timeline
Atari 8-bit Computers - ausretrogamer

From the 400/800 (1979) to the XL (1983), the XE (XL Extended) (1985) and finally to the XEGS (1987), Atari left no stone unturned when it came to unleashing their 8-bit home computer range. The A8s were definitely on-par with their contemporaries, but with the upheaval that was going on within Atari and the change in ownership, the 8-bit home computers never stood a chance to shine bright.

The A8 range was officially discontinued on January 1, 1992 – an impressive 13 year run! The Atari 8-bit home computers will forever be played – yes, they will last that long!

ILoveAtari

 

Arnie and the Atari Portfolio

“I’ll be back”. Indeed Arnie was right. In this case, the Atari Portfolio is back, not Arnie’s time-travelling T-800 Model 101 Terminator.

AtariPortfolio_kit_2

For those that are left scratching their heads of the correlation between Terminator and the little Atari pocket computer, let me remind you – In Terminator 2: Judgement Day, the young John Connor and his mate jump on John’s dirt bike and head to the mall to hack the ATM and get some cash to play the arcade machines (Ed: very clever kid!). The young Connor uses his Atari Portfolio and a hacking program (PINID) to withdraw some much needed play-time funds.

Atari picked a blockbuster for their product placement. Did it sell lots of Portfolios? Hell no, but damn it was cool to see an Atari in T2!

Got any favourite video gaming related product placements?

A very cool prop
AtariPortfolio_hack

Press the Any Key!
AtariPortfolio_PINID

John Connor withdrawing some much needed funds to play on the arcade machines!
AtariPortfolio_T2

 

 

My Atari Story: Matt Lacey

Why I Still Love Atari Computers

These days the Atari name is almost nowhere to be seen: the company is not the company it was when it was great. It’s not much more than simply the owner of some IP that enjoyed a golden age thirty years ago. But what a golden age it was.

Where It Started For Me

I was lucky as a kid because my dad was a computer guy. He was a programmer in the punch card era, and quickly became an Atari fan with the launch of their formidable 8-bit machines at the end of the seventies. I had an 800 in my bedroom when I was young, after my dad upgraded to an ST. That same machine is still alive and kicking to this day. Aside from a few LOGO procedures, I didn’t do anything with that computer except play games. One of those games was Star Raiders which I consider to be an incredible technical achievement for the time, and is still tremendously enjoyable 35 years after its release. It’s also still brutally difficult, and if you’ve never played it, I implore you to do so. If you ever liked Wing Commander, TIE Fighter or games of their ilk, then you’ll be right at home with Star Raiders.

The motherboard from an Atari 800XL that I'm attempting to restore

The motherboard from an Atari 800XL that I’m attempting to restore

During the 16-bit Atari vs. Amiga wars of the 80s, circumstances dictated that I was firmly in the Atari camp. Although technically the ST could never really match the A500 for power, it does get credit for being available considerably earlier, and the MIDI ports were great for musicians. I’ll never forget jumping out of my chair when I fired up a game called Chopper-X and my still-connected keyboard suddenly started blasting the music at full volume right behind me.

It was on the ST that I first played Monkey Island and Loom (games that I still play regularly) which kicked off a lifelong love affair with LucasArts’ graphic adventures. It was also the first machine I ever wrote code on, some primitive BASIC it may have been, but that pretty much set the direction for my life.

Today

Perhaps it’s nostalgia talking, but computers today simply have no charm. There’s little fun to be found using them, they’re merely tools for a job, and tools that annoy more often than they delight. Macs and a few high-end PC laptops aside, they’re generally made of nasty, cheap plastic, and none of them seem like they’re built to last. As computers have become commodity items they have also fallen prey to the talons of planned obsolescence in a big way.

For me, all old computers are a joy to use (yes I’d even like to own a few Amigas these days); they have their own quirks and oddities, but they don’t feel sterile and they’ll certainly never chastise you for disconnecting a device unsafely. Granted, disconnecting a device in use is likely to trash your data, but I’d rather learn once and be treated as an intelligent being than deal with dialog boxes displaying mundane lines such as ‘You shut down your computer because of a problem’. No, you think? (for the record, this was my Mac, last week, after I had to forcefully shut it down because it wouldn’t wake up from sleep mode).

This is my all-time favourite computer

This is my all-time favourite computer

Last year I purchased my dream computer: An Atari Falcon 030. This ill-fated and little-known machine was the successor to the ST, released in 1992. Unfortunately the plug was pulled in 1993 so that the company could focus on the Jaguar. On the outside it looks pretty much the same as an ST but with a different logo and darker keycaps, but on the inside it’s a solid performer, supporting a true colour display and capable of recording audio direct to hard disk thanks to a Digital Signal Processor running alongside the CPU. Today people still covet these machines and you can even get new hardware for them. Lotharek produces a few items including the NetUSBee which makes transferring files on and off of the machine far easier than in the past, and there’s some cheap IDE DOMs available which make for easy, silent replacements for aging IDE hard drives.

Yes – it feels a little clunky and awkward compared to modern machines, but it’s fun to use and explore. There’s a few people developing games specifically for the Falcon still, and I’m looking to join their ranks; I have some sprites and things moving around but free time is hard to come by. Either way, I’ll keep at it when I can because it’s enjoyable and a good way to sharpen the programming skills.

Debugging sprite routines. Note the NetUSBee sticking out of the cartridge port

Debugging sprite routines. Note the NetUSBee sticking out of the cartridge port

Go Buy One!

There’s still a strong and very active community surrounding Atari computers and consoles with several great forums and #atariscne on IRCNET is a great way to get help with code, so there’s never been a better time to get involved. The machines are relatively cheap (Falcons and TTs aside), though slightly tricky to get hold of in Australia compared to Europe and the US. There seems to be more and more hardware extensions appearing all the time which makes using them better than it’s ever been. And don’t forget to buy that Star Raiders cart while you’re at it if you spring for an 8-bit.

ILoveAtari

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MattLaceyMatt Lacey
Co-Founder of SPKeasey and ProxInsight. Salesforce & ForceDotCom MVP. Code addict. Fan of science, snowboarding & beer. Learning M68k ASM for kicks. A proud Atarian.

Follow Matt on Twitter