Neohabitat Reawakens Lucasfilm’s First MMORPG

It seems that we may have been living under a rock all this time! We are the first to admit that we aren’t massive fans of adventure or RPG style games, but when the C64 is involved, we always sit up and take note!

Now cast your mind back to 1986 when Lucasfilm Games (LucasArts) began previewing their new online game Habitat (developed a year earlier) in magazines of the time. If you are lucky enough to remember, you’d recall that the game looked bloody amazing, a cross between an adventure game and something akin to an online chat room. If your recollections are a bit fuzzy, then think of a multiplayer SCUMM game before Lucasfilm were anywhere near releasing Maniac Mansion! Then, the game went into a closed beta and didn’t see the light of day till 1988, when it was scaled back as Club Caribe. Ah, you would be forgiven in thinking that the game was lost to the sands of time. But wait, there is a new ending to this story.

Before we get swept away by the nostalgic tide, let us give you the good news – Neohabitat have reawakened the original Lucasfilm Habitat server, which is now available for anyone and everyone to play online – for free! How awesome is that! It will feel familiar to those accustomed to the SCUMM-like interface, complete with cross hairs with a modern twist, which ain’t a bad thing at all.

Who would have thought that we’d be playing an MMORPG in 2017 that was made over three decades ago! It is indeed a great time to be a retro gamer!

source: Bobby Blackwolf on YouTube

Concept art for the box cover of Lucasfilm’s Habitat game. Source: Wikipedia

 

Luftrauserz Cleared For Landing On The C64

Change your soiled trauserz peeps, as RGCD is busily flashing C64 cartridges with Paul Koller’s Luftrauserz game. Yep, you read that right, the awesome shoot’em up Luftrauserz is coming to the venerable 8-bit micro! Work is also being done on the game’s manual and case inserts which we must say, look absolutely amazing. We’ll hopefully get word on the release date very soon – we’re betting that this game will sell like crazy!

While we are on the C64 news bandwagon, RGCD are also relaunching their out of stock games, which is great news for all of you that missed out on awesome games like Powerglove, C64anabalt, Super Bread Box and Bomberland. These relaunched titles will have improved cartridge labels (see below) and newly designed printed manuals. We reckon we’ll have to hit up RGCD for a few C64 carts for the Classic Gaming Area at PAXAus 2017!

source: RGCD

Interview With Andreas Wallström: For The Love Of The C64

UPDATE 24-April-2017: Andreas has informed us that the Kickstarter has been cancelled!

The Commodore 64 was our first true love in gaming and computing. The beautiful C64 invokes great memories from decades ago, with memories feeling so vivid that they seem like they happened just yesterday!

Nostalgia is truly intoxicating, especially when meeting fellow C64 lovers like Andreas Wallström. If you don’t know who Andreas is, then this interview will give you an insight into Andreas’ passions and great dedication he has towards the fabled C64. We have been following Andreas for a while on social media and constantly refer to his awesome C64.com site. Once we found out that Andreas had a C64 book on Kickstarter, we took note as his book is unlike other C64 books we have seen or read before.

We managed to grab Andreas to tell us a bit more about himself, his passions and of course, his new C64 tome.

AUSRETROGAMER [ARG]: Hello Andreas, thank you for your time to do this interview. Before we delve into your wonderful projects, tell us about yourself – when did you start gaming and/or dabbling with gaming systems and computers? 

Andreas Wallström [AW]: My name is Andreas Wallström. I’m a 43 year old father, graphic designer, photographer, drummer and a massive Commodore 64 fan. Some time at the beginning of the 1980’s, my father brought home the ColecoVision, so that was the first machine I started with. But in 1984, dad brought home the C64, a 1541 disk drive, a 1530 tape deck, a MPS 801 printer and five Mastertronic games. That was the start of my love affair with the greatest machine of all time – which changed my life forever.

ARG: When did you discover the Commodore 64 and what was it about the C64 that got you hooked on this 8-bit micro?
AW: I got hooked pretty quickly. I was only allowed to use the C64 during weekends at first, but like the sneaky little bastard that I was, I brought friends home during lunch breaks to play games like H.E.R.O., Snoopy and Spy Hunter. Dad and I undertook a BASIC course in 1985, but that didn’t really spark my interest. The programming exercises were mainly aimed at an older audience, but I was still happy to just be near the machine. I got really hooked when I first saw crack intros (cracktros) and demos. I was very impressed when I saw text scrolling on screen for the first time!

ARG: Is the C64 your only love or do you have other computers, consoles or systems you like to use and play on?
AW: I play games and watch demos on three machines: The C64, the Amiga and the Mega Drive. I never owned a Mega Drive back in the day, but I love the games on it. Favourite games on these other two machines would be; on the Amiga: Pirates!, Defender of the Crown, Beach Volley, King of Chicago, Super Cars and Another World. On the Mega Drive, they are: Sonic the Hedgehog II, Castle of Illusion and The Lion King.

ARG: As you are a graphic designer and photographer by trade, did the C64 (or other systems) play a part in your choice of vocation? 

AW: It certainly did. My grandmother was a painter, so designing things runs in the blood. I started drawing logos and fonts on the C64 when I was 14 years old, so that was the start of my self-education in the field of digital graphics. I constantly thank the creators of the C64 and the people that inspired me along the way because it’s thanks to them that I have the job that I have today.

ARG: Your website, c64.com is a treasure trove of information on the C64 (we constantly use it!) which has been around for almost 20 years! What made you start this site? And, do you have outside (contributors) that assist you with it?
 
AW: C64.COM was started by my friends Creeper/Flash Inc and Jordan/Antic. I helped out in the beginning but wanted to do a different kind of C64 homepage, so I started C64hq.com. After a few years working apart, I suggested that we’d join forces again to create one cool site together. That was in 2006 if I remember correctly. The reason why both sites were started was simply because the undying love for the C64. We’re a small team and would love more contributors, so if anyone is interested, please apply!

ARG: Let’s get to your latest project, the Commodore 64: For the Love Of A Machine book, which is currently seeking crowdfunding on Kickstarter – could you tell us a bit more about this project and what people can expect from the finished product?
AW: Since I have something of an obsession with the C64, I thought it would be a great idea to design a beautiful coffee-table book that celebrates the world’s most popular computer. People can expect a 224 pages hardback book filled to the brim with C64 nostalgia. There will be interviews with Al Charpentier who was VP of Engineering at Commodore during the creation of the C64 and he also created the VIC-II graphics chip. I have also done an interview with Bob Yannes who created the SID chip and he was one of two engineers that put the C64 together. We got a lot to thank this man, and trust me when I say, without Yannes, there would be no C64!

Apart from these guys, there are in-depth interviews with the likes of Chris Hüelsbeck, Ben Daglish and Fred Gray. People can expect an interview with programmer John Twiddy who programmed The Last Ninja. Something I’m also very proud of are the game commentaries from people that created many of the games that we love. And hey, did I mention the scans of Rob Hubbard’s original music notes? Rob wrote the music to games like Sanxion, Thing on a Spring, Crazy Comets, and Spellbound to name a few. For the first time ever, people are given the chance to gain insight into how he used to compose his famous C64 tunes.

ARG: You have managed to get interviews with some big names from Commodore and the gaming community – was this a difficult process? How did you go about securing interviews with big names like Al Charpentier and Bob Yannes for instance?
 
AW: You know, for some reason I’d like to torture myself by pursuing people, knowing how hard it is to find people that have said no to others. The interview with Mr.Z/Triad for instance was particularly challenging – It took me three years to get a ‘yes’ from him and then it took eight years to finish the interview! Obviously, the interview was started way before I started thinking of doing a book, but you get an idea what I’m willing to go through. Regarding how I secured interviews with Al and Bob, well, I’ll have to keep that myself for now, let’s just say that being in the scene since 1987 helped a lot. Oh yeah, persistence helps too.

ARG: What sets this C64 book apart from others? 

AW: The interviews for sure. You won’t find current interviews anywhere with people like Bob Yannes, Mr.Z/Triad and Dave Collier who programmed games like Yie Ar Kung-Fu, Green Beret and Hyper Sports. This is the first time he’s talking to anyone about the good old C64 days. The Rob Hubbard scripts of course make this book stand out too. I’m also putting focus on women in games which I haven’t seen in any other books. The book will also include professional photography and photos from old copy-parties and meetings that have not been seen before. I take great pride in this and I will make sure the book has a really eye-catching design.

ARG: The pledge tiers are all enticing and we are struggling to pick just one – they all look good! Got any tips on which one we should go for?
AW:
How about the associate producer one? *smiles* I would really recommend to get the physical book together with a poster from Dave Rowe and/or Steinar Lund. They’re going to look great on any wall!

ARG: Before we let you go, do you have an all-time favourite C64 game and chiptune?

AW: The impossible question and despite the figure skating events in Winter Games, that would be my favourite game. When it comes to music, one tune I always love to listen to is the main tune in Krakout by Ben Daglish. It’s fast paced, it’s jolly and the melodies are second to none!

Like all good things, even an interview must come to an end. We honestly could’ve asked Andreas another hundred questions, which he would have happily answered, but we thought we’d better let him go to concentrate on his upcoming book. As we say our goodbyes, we are left quite confident that Andreas’ book will be something quite special, for all fans! If you want to back Andreas’ C64 book, head over to Kickstarter now.

source: Commodore 64: For the Love of a Machine

 

MAX: The Forgotten Commodore Computer

commodoremax_headerWe take a closer look at the long forgotten Commodore computer, the MAX MACHINE. Step back in time and take a look at this pretty little thing in the below pics!

Before you do go wandering down below to check out the MAX, let’s just pause and reflect on this Japanese made Commodore computer that never really got any market traction. The Commodore MAX Machine (aka: Ultimax in the US and VC-10 in Germany) was a home micro computer designed and sold by Commodore International in Japan at the beginning of 1982. It was the C64’s predecessor, and hence it was swiftly discontinued when the Commodore 64 went gangbusters! Due to it’s low production run, it is now considered a rarity.

The MAX did share the same CPU (MOS 6510) and SID (sound) chip as the C64, but that is where the similarities stop. With only 2KB of RAM, the MAX Machine was severly handicapped when compared to it’s bigger and more successful brother. One saving grace of the MAX was its ROM cartridges – they worked on the C64, and it also paved the way to the ‘freezer’ carts (like the Action Replay) due to the MAX compatibility mode that was built into the C64.

For those technically minded, here are the specs to whet your MAX appetite:

Operating system: MAX BASIC (Cartridge), 2047 bytes to program in, LOAD/SAVE support
CPU: MOS Technology 6510 @ 1.02 MHz
Memory: 2.0 KB, 0.5 KB color RAM
Graphics: VIC-II 6566 (320 x 200, 16 colors, sprites, PETSCII keyset)
Sound: 3 / 4 channel 6581 “SID” chip
Ports: expansion port (cartridge), RF/TV port, audio port, cassette port, 2 joystick ports

The MAX♦Machine bundle!

Nothing too exciting on this side of the box!

The back of the box reveals something out of this world!

Not to be outdone, the sides are look lovely!

Not sure about those keys, but it’s still beautiful

Taking closer look at the membrane keyboard…

The MAX does have a few interfaces to insert bits into them!

Not matter which way you look at it, the MAX Machine has gorgeous curves

Aha, so the model reveals itself, it’s the MAX-04!

Even the MAX requires power! Oh, and it’s all RF baby!

No gaming computer is complete without a killer game! 

Hook us up to the MAX!
image source: eBay


Ausretrogamer 2016 Highlights

As another year draws to a close, one can’t help but to reflect on the year gone by. With a record number of visitors hitting the site, we had a heap of highlights in 2016, so dwindling them down to a handful proved to be harder than we thought. Are you ready? Here we go!

We started the year by learning how pinball machines work and how to troubleshoot general problems – a course that was well worth doing!

Getting the grand tour of ZAX Amusements and getting to play the newly released (at the time) Ghostbusters Pro pinball machine was a double highlight!

What better way to spend your birthday than having the awesome Ms. ausretrogamer organising a birthday mystery tour involving escape rooms, USA foods, retrogaming hunting at vintage markets, arcade action and a drive-in movie!

It is always a wonderful surprise when you go on a holiday and find a market that has retrogaming goodies! Carrara Markets delivered the thrill of the hunt buzz we were looking for!

After the birthday mystery tour, it was only fair to repay Ms. ausretrogamer in kind, by surprising her with The Walking Dead Pro pinball machine for her birthday. The look on her face was priceless!

When Marcus Sezonov extended us an invite to his Rosstown Retro Pinball Arcade tournament, we definitely could not pass up the opportunity. With a fantastic pinball collection comprising of classic machines from a variety of manufacturers from around the world, we could not stop flipping the silverball. Oh yeah, Marcus also had an original Japanese Space Invaders cocktail table to satisfy our arcade urge.

Being part of Australia’s biggest gaming event is a privilege. For PAX Aus 2016, our Classic Gaming Area was even bigger and better – more arcade and pinball machines, old school computers and consoles, handhelds from yesteryear and for the first time, a classic gaming museum!

Another PAX Aus 2016 highlight was participating in Seamus Byrne’s Geek Trash or Treasure? Finding Collectibles with Real Value panel in the Gamespot Theatre! We can now say that we popped our public speaking cherry.

Last but not least, meeting Jack Guarnieri at the recent exclusive Melbourne Jersey Jack Pinball event was a huge highlight and one we will not forget in a hurry! Oh yeah, playing the Pat Lawlor designed, Dialed In, was pretty great too!

We can’t wait to see what awesomeness 2017 brings us all! We’ll take this opportunity to thank you for your patronage and hope that you’ll come and visit us again in 2017.

Happy New Year to everyone – we hope it is a happy, healthy, successful and fun one!

 

PAXAus 2016: Classic Gaming Tournaments

paxaus2016_cg_tournamentAttention gamers: Sharpen your gaming skills now and prove your retro gaming worth in the Classic Gaming tournaments at PAXAus 2016. As usual, you can compete for fun or glory!

There will be head to head racing, high score challenge competitions on arcade machines, consoles, 8-bit computers and pinball tables to show off your prowess. Speaking of pinball tournaments, Saturday’s competition will be fully sanctioned by the IFPA!

We suggest you put the Classic Gaming tournament schedule in your diary right now. Are you game to compete?

paxaus_cga_tournaments_schedule_2016

 

2016 Reset C64 4KB Game Coding Comp Preview

reset4kbgamecodecomppreviewWith the closing date getting ever so near for the 2016 Reset C64 4KB Game Coding Competition, we thought we’d take a look at the entries so far. From what we’ve seen, these CRAPTASTIC games are looking, um, pretty darn good for crappy games squeezed into 4 Kilobytes!

If you haven’t started on your CRAPTASTIC game, then you still have a few days to enter this awesome comp. So get cracking (or coding)!

Entry #1: M4573RB4G3L5
Developer: Cout Games
Status: Submitted
Author Quote: “The coding is handcrafted from the best 12-year old script kiddies that are known to exist and spelling of equal value if you look at the listing.”
A number guessing game, in which the C64 will get revenge if you don’t play it properly!masterbagles

Entry #2: Colon 10
Developer: Cout Games
Status: Submitted
Author Quote: “Hope this game is much more friendly than M4573RB4G3L5!”
Stop the C64 timer exactly for 10 seconds without going over. If you are over, even by a fraction, you lose.
colon-10

Entry #3: Dog
Developer: Vanje Utne (Privy Software)
Status: Submitted
Run around in Shouty Human’s garden and poo as much as possible without getting caught. A very ‘craptastic’ entry from Vanja!
dog

Entry #4: Granny’s Teeth
Developer: Richard Bayliss (TND)
Status: Submitted
Author Quote: “After seeing loads of terrible games, created with Creations / Mastertronic’s / Mirrorsoft’s Games Creator, I thought it would be pretty funny if I actually created something that sort of simulated it, and squeeze it into 4K.”
granny

Entry #5: Goblin
Developer: Vanja Utne (Pond Software)
Status: Submitted
Author Quote: “It’s another game! Code/graphics/music by me. 4096 bytes of platforming action!”
The Goblin Town potato cellars have been invaded by giant potato bugs! It’s up to you to salvage as many potatoes as possible.
goblin

Entry #6: Valentine’s Day Shopping Simulator
Developer: Karmic
Status: Submitted
Author Quote: “Only 2.13kb packed :)”
It’s Valentine’s Day, and time is running out to buy your girlfriend a gift. But will she like it?
valentines-day

Entry #7: Watschinator
Developer: Endurion
Status: Submitted
Author Quote: “Have fun!”
Hit your opponent three times before he manages to do so to you. Classic fighter action gameplay!
watschinator

Entry #8: Antarctica
Developer: Antarctica
Status: Submitted
Guide an Antarctic scientists on his damaged snowspeeder to collect the supplies!
antarctica

Entry #9: Picross 4k
Developer: Oziphantom
Status: Submitted
The quirky Japanese puzzle game now on your 64. Work through the matrix and find the hidden image.
picross

Entry #10: Zombie Massacre
Developer: Wanax
Status: Submitted
It’s a zombie apocalypse, and now they have weapons! Graphics and sound by Saul Cross.
zombie

Entry #11: Lumberjack
Developer: Majikeyric (Megastyle/Protovision)
Status: Submitted
Author Quote: “Rip off your grey and boring suit and reveal the red flannel shirt you are hiding under you clothes. Let your beard grow and equip yourself with a big axe and enter the woods. Just admit it, You’ve always wanted to be a LUMBERJACK!”
Enter the forest and start chopping wood, but beware of the branches! Graphics by Rotteroy and all sound by Drumtex.
lumberjack

Entry #12: Bonkey Kong
Developer: Graham Axten (Privy Software)
Status: Submitted
Graham’s take of the original Donkey Kong, with a twist!
bonkey-kong

Entry #13: Super Ski
Developer: Andreas Gustafsson (Privy Software)
Status: Submitted
Slalom Skiing down four treacherous slopes! Graphics and sound by Vanja Utne.
super-ski

Entry 14: ? (Unknown at this stage)
Developer: Paul Koller
Status: Pending
Author Quote: “The following words are included in my c64 4KB game, in no particular order: work, nipples, died… :)”
Paul hasn’t disclosed much about his game, except for this small teaser screenshot and cryptically teasing that the theme of the game should be easily recognisable!
pk

We know that there are more registered (and unregistered) entries that are still pending that aren’t included in this update, with developers working very hard to get their games ready on time.

We wish all of the entrants the best of luck and a big congratulations to those who have managed to get their games submitted!

Thanks again to the following sponsors for supporting this wonderful competition: Retro Computer Scene, Bitmap Books and Protovision. This is all for fun, but it’s nice to have prizes for the winners!