The RepliCade Mini Tempest Is In Da House!

Being an early backer on a Kickstarter has its perks, you can usually pick up a product for an early bird price (way cheaper than its inevitable retail price) and you get to use / play it well before anyone else does. The only down side is the usual delivery time frame, so the wait can be agonising.

After waiting patiently, our Replicade Mini Tempest arcade machine has finally arrived! Joining its sibling, the Replicade Mini Centipede, these machines are a sight to behold! With great quality inside and out, it’s like someone got a shrinking gun and used it on the real arcade machines – they are that damn accurate! Don’t believe us, then check out the pics below. Oh yeah, the spinner, albeit on a smaller scale, feels almost how we remember playing Tempest over three decades ago!

 

 

 

Arcade1Up – Rampage Review

Arcade1Up’s line of diminutive arcade cabinets turned a lot of heads online when they were first announced. After all, the chance to own officially-licensed arcade machines for a fraction of the price of a real cabinet, complete with authentic controls and games? It’s a no-brainer! So there was a lot of waiting to see which of these machines (if any) would reach our shores in Australia, and if so, what were they like?

So it was with great trepidation that I scoured the local ALDI stores to find one on the day of their release. I had heard that they were selling out fast, and it didn’t help that ALDI didn’t offer any convenient way to find out which stores had stock in, so I was eager to get out and about to my nearby stores.

The question I was asking myself on the trip was, which one of the two available would I choose? On the ALDI site they were advertising two versions of the Arcade1Up cabinet. One was advertised as containing Williams / Atari classics Rampage, Gauntlet, Joust and the greatest shmup of all time, Defender. The other had a placard boasting it had a roster of Capcom favourites: Street Fighter 2 Championship Edition, Final Fight, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts and Strider.

The good news is that a local store had plenty of both machines on hand to purchase. The not good news? The Capcom cabinet was purely for Street Fighter 2 games. To make things even more confusing, the American version of the Street Fighter 2 machine had all five variants of the legendary fighting game, but the Australian one had only three. That’s….oddly frustrating. My personal favourite Street Fighter 2 Turbo, was completely missing and for the life of me I can’t understand why.

Plenty of machines ready to play!

So, in the interests of game variation, I picked up the Williams / Atari (aka: Midway Classic Arcade) one. As much as I personally love Street Fighter 2, I knew the people who would be using the cabinet would get tired of it a lot quicker than I would, and the chance to introduce Defender to a new generation was too much to pass up. $500 later and I was driving out of the car park a happy man.

Ready to assemble!

Assembling the machine was surprisingly easy and straightforward. If you’ve ever assembled an IKEA book shelf you’ll be in familiar territory here. Frankly, I have to commend the designers here for making it such a painless process, as parts were clearly labelled and the included instructions made sense at every step. You’ll need a good Phillips-head screwdriver and about an hour or two of spare time to go from opening the box to having a small but perfectly formed arcade cabinet in your own home. It’s a good excuse to invite some friends around to help and share in the multiplayer fun afterwards.

Starting to take shape…

It’s when you start putting the machine together that you really get a sense of how small this thing is. Basically, everything is ​3⁄4 of regular size. The controllers are small, not too small, but small enough to be noticeable. The 17” monitor is small, but not enough to be a problem. The cabinet stands 1.2 metres tall, which…yeah, is an issue. Basically the cabinet is too tall to comfortably play while sitting on the ground, and too low to play at all while standing unless you’re under the age of ten. The raisers that Arcade1Up offer aren’t available at retail stores here in Australia, so you’ll need to figure out your own solution. The small size also means that it’s difficult to have more than two people comfortably crowd around the screen, especially if you’re sitting on chairs because of the height issue. It’s workable, but it’s an issue you need to keep in mind.

Almost there….

There are three microswitched sticks for three players, and two buttons (labelled Jump and Attack) that feel suitably responsive if not a teensy bit spongy. I have a hunch that the sticks won’t take the kind of pounding you can dish out in a real arcade, but I don’t really want to test it. On the controller deck is a big power switch and a switch for volume that goes between no sound, “loud enough to be clear for everyone who is playing” and “loud enough to let everyone else in the house know you’re playing”. It just feels nice to play with.

The back of the monitor houses the little box that runs the emulation software.

Anyway, enough about the hardware, let’s talk about the games! Arcade purists might scoff about how these systems use emulation, but honestly, for the price point this thing was never going to be 100% arcade accurate anyway (LCD screens can never replicate the feel of an old-fashioned CRT after all) and the emulation quality itself is legitimately good. However, the way the games play varies wildly.

No coins needed and always ready to play!

So, the cabinet is dedicated to Rampage, with all the original marquee and controller art to suit. That means that it’s a great Rampage machine and offers many hours of fun especially in multiplayer. It’s always a laugh when players end up hitting each other more than they’re hitting the buildings. So, Rampage is good.

Joust surprised me. I have always had a soft spot for the game since playing the Atari 2600 version back in the day, and for some reason I’m even more besotted with the arcade version. It looks the least interesting to play of the four games on offer but I have a hunch that it will be the one I return the most to. It’s a game that rewards skill and has a control system that will take a long time to master. So, thumbs up for Joust here.

Gauntlet is where things start to fall apart. The original was known for its four player action, but since the cabinet was designed with Rampage in mind it only has three controllers. So, at least you can play a three player session, right? Nope! For some unfathomable reason the version of Gauntlet on offer here is the two-player one. Frankly, that’s just absolutely stupid. Also, the game itself has not aged well at all and, since you can just give yourself infinite health with continued pressing of the start buttons, there’s absolutely no challenge on offer. I found myself just wandering aimlessly through the mazes not even bothering to fight any of the dungeon’s monsters. After fifteen minutes I gave this one a hard pass.

Finally we get to Defender. I love Defender. I mean I really, really love Defender. Eugene Jarvis and friends made what I think is one of the few “perfect” games. Legend tells of people who can survive more than five minutes of playing this exquisite classic, but I have yet to meet them. Yes, I am terrible at Defender but I still love it.

Defender plays like absolute garbage on this machine. I hate every second of it. The controls are so offensively broken that I feel like it wants me to grow a third or possible fourth hand to have access to all the buttons that are spread haphazardly across the entire surface of the control panel. You move up and down with the first stick, Thrust and Reverse with the player one buttons, smart bomb and hyperspace with the player two buttons, and fire with one of the third player buttons. It plays worse than it sounds. Your hands spend so much time moving across the panel there’s no way you can make the instinctive, split-second decisions needed to play Defender properly. This is one of the cases where I actually wouldn’t have minded if they used the control method found in some of the home console ports that eschewed the Thrust and Reverse buttons for left and right on the joystick. Even just thinking about playing Defender on this system makes me mad.

Uh…no thank you?

Also, and this one completely infuriates me for some reason, high scores don’t save at all! That’s a particularly egregious oversight that for me completely diminishes the arcade experience. Arcade games are all about high scores! What, I have to get a chalkboard to put next to the machine for people to write their scores down? Are we cavemen?

For $500 there were always going to be some compromises, but some of them just make my blood boil. I get the size. I get the build quality. But I really can’t get over how two of the games are basically broken and there were weird software shortcuts. If you’re a super fan of Rampage, or if you want to use this as a starting point for a modification project then absolutely you should get one. Otherwise…keep looking.

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Cameron Davis
Writer and artist of Rose: a comic about the world’s hungriest redhead and her love of food, friends, food, family, food and FOOD!

Follow Cameron on Twitter

 

 

Introducing the RepliCade Mini Centipede Arcade Machine

When we backed New Wave ToysRepliCade: Mini Centipede Arcade Machine Kickstarter, we only imagined how good it would be. Well, we have received our limited edition RepliCade Mini Centipede and let’s just say, we are totally blown away by it!

The level of detail, from the cabinet styling, artwork, light-up marquee, control panel overlay, old school P1 and P2 player select buttons to the fire button, coin slots and the beautiful trak-ball, New Wave Toys should be commended for a prefect recreation of Atari’s iconic Centipede arcade machine – it truly needs to be seen to be believed!

The Six Million Dollar Man, Steve Austin approves of the RepliCade Mini Centipede Arcade Machine

OK, we know what you are thinking, it looks great, but does it play well? In short, it plays perfectly, we cannot fault it one bit! The trak-ball feels oh so right (you can adjust its sensitivity) even though it looks small, it feels great under the index finger. The concave fire button also feels right, with no lag at all. The emulation used is as if it was yanked right off the Centipede arcade board, it plays unbelievably smooth. Just on this, New Wave Toys are using their proprietary RepliCade high-performance chipset for smooth, lag-free gameplay. It runs on a closed system that boots directly into ROM. By pressing the right coin slot, you have access to all the options that the original machine had in the arcades. Seriously, these guys have thought of everything!

The RepliCade Mini Centipede Arcade Machine comes highly recommended. The design and level of detail of this replica mini arcade machine is simply sublime. Dona Bailey and Ed Logg would be quite impressed with what New Wave Toys have achieved. We now look forward to their next creation in their RepliCade series, the Mini Tempest Arcade Machine!

PS: The Atari 25c insert coin keychain (bottom of this article) was available to Kickstarter backers only! The generic 25c insert coin keychain is available via Amazon!

 

Arcade1Up: Classic ¾-Sized Arcade Games For Your Home

If you loved feeding coins into arcade machines from yesteryear and don’t want to spend big $$$$ on a 30+ year old machine, then Arcade1Up’s 3/4 scale classic arcade machines may be for you!

There are currently six arcade cabinets (see below), each cabinet housing multiple games. Before you get too excited, there will only be two cabinets available in Australia via EB Games (as at the time of this article) – Rampage and Street Fighter II Editions. Hopefully we’ll see the rest make their way to retails stores in Australia.

Release date (in Australia) is penned for October 11 with a retail price of $698. These aren’t exactly cheap, but they are cheaper than trying to find an original arcade cabinet which may require some TLC and parts to get it working.

With PAX Aus 2018 just around the corner, we wonder if EB Games could lend a few of these for our Classic Gaming Area…

Street Fighter II Edition with three brill Street Fighter II games

Rampage Edition: Rampage, Gauntlet, Joust & Defender 

Galaga Edition: Walmart exclusive only, housing Galaga and Galaxian!

Centipede Edition: Centipede, Crystal Castles, Missile Command & Millipede

Asteroids Edition: Asteroids, Tempest, Major Havoc & Lunar Lander

Final Fight Edition (coming in 2019): Final Fight, Ghosts’N Goblins, 1944 & Strider

Specs:

Recreate that arcade parlour from your childhood right in your living room!
image source: Arcade1Up

 

Replicade X Tempest Mini Arcade Machine: The Early Bird Catches The Cool Worm

If you were like us, you may have backed New Wave Toys’ first Kickstarter which was a Replicade Centipede mini arcade machine.

When we got the note that their Replicade X Tempest mini arcade was now live on Kickstarter, we jumped on it right away! Yes, we broke our first New Year’s resolution – no backing Kickstarters in 2018, but we made an exception for this, cause it is that good.

The Replicade X Tempest Kickstarter has already blown past its goal, so this will happen and we can’t wait! For everyone that went gaga at our photos of the insert coin light up keychain, here is your chance to grab one by backing this campaign with as little as $25USD.

Instead of regurgitating all about New Wave Toys’ Replicade X Tempest mini arcade right here, why don’t you go and check out the Kickstarter now and decide for yourself.

source: Replicade X Tempest on Kickstarter

 

‘Game Over’ By PES

PES featured imagePES recreates 5 classic arcade death sequences with everyday household items in his awesome stop-motion short ‘Game Over’.

Source: PES via Archie McPhee

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msausretrogamerMs. ausretrogamer
Co-founder, editor and writer at ausretrogamer – The Australian Retro Gamer E-Zine. Lover of science fiction, fashion, books, movies and TV. Player of games, old and new.

Follow Ms. ausretrogamer on Twitter

 

 

The Atari $50,000 World Championships Fiasco

AtariWorldChamps_titleLong before Walter Day established his Twin Galaxies scoreboard and way before eSports were created, there were video games competitions taking place all over North America, with the first tournament staged in New York City in 1980 by Atari. The First National Space Invaders Competition proved quite popular with 10,000 participants, with regional events taking place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Fort Worth, Chicago, and New York City. The tournament had widespread print and television coverage, ensuring that the video gaming craze reached the masses.

Space Invaders competition, circa 1980–1981
AtariWorldChamps_2

Following on from the success of the Space Invaders tournament, Atari enlisted Tournament Games Inc. (TGI was a successful foosball tournament organisation) to help it establish the Atari $50,000 World Championships to be held in Chicago at the end of 1981. To say that this tournament ended up being a total disaster for all parties, including the handful of participants, would be a gross understatement.

The event was promoted as a major sporting contest which would attract 10,000 to 15,000 of the world’s best video game players to go head-to-head on a single arcade game, Centipede. Well, the event only attracted 138 players, well under the projected participation levels expected. The low participation rate was due to contestants expected to foot the bill for their own transportation, accommodation to the event, and then pay a $60 entry fee and feed their own quarters to play the tournament Centipede arcade machines – the cost being way out of reach for the typical video game player of the day! Adding insult to injury, many of the contestants were not advised that Centipede would be the only game in the Championship, many of whom were there to compete on Asteroids and other Atari arcade games (Asteroids Deluxe, Battlezone, Warlords and Red Baron).

Sadly, there were no winners at the Atari $50,000 World Championships, not even the eventual winners, with their cheques bouncing, they left empty handed and totally jaded. The championship was an unmitigated disaster, a blight on the history of video gaming tournaments.

The Atari $50,000 World Championships farce flyer
AtariWorldChamps_1

source: The Golden Age Arcade Historian
Space Invaders competition image source: International Journal Of Communication