Atari Panther: The Extinct Cat

In 1988 Atari Corporation’s Jack Tramiel ordered work to begin on the successor to the Atari 7800 and XEGS. Work quickly begun on the Panther and Jaguar consoles – yes, the Jaguar! The Atari Panther was being developed by Flare Technology (Flare One and Konix Multisystem) and was scheduled for release in 1991, directly competing with Nintendo’s SNES and Sega’s Mega Drive.

The Panther platform was going to be a mash up of the Atari ST and Transputer “Blossom” video card, once again blurring the lines of “is it 16 or 32-bit?”. For the record, the Motorola 68000 CPU was going to run at 16MHz (compared to the Mega Drive’s 8MHz and the SNES’ 12MHz) which was going to be paired with a 32-bit graphics card running at a whopping 32MHz! On paper, Atari was doing their math(s) right!

As the Panther and Jaguar were being developed in parallel, Atari Corp. started favouring the Jaguar as it was progressing quickly and presented far more impressive and superior technology. Atari eventually decided to scrap the Panther and forge ahead with their 64-bit console. The cancellation of the Panther meant that Atari had no hardware presence in the home console market between the discontinuation of the Atari 7800 in 1992 and the launch of their Jaguar in 1993. This gap weakened the Atari brand and likely contributed to the failure of the Jaguar console.

The cancellation of the Panther was poor timing, which in retrospect Atari wishes they had pursued it to market, as it would have given both the SNES and Mega Drive one hell of a fight!

The Atari Panther blueprint!

Looking good – front, back with nice sides!

The press release that got us drooling!

image source: Atari-Explorer via Wayback Machine

 

Classic SEGA Games on iOS and Android via SEGA Forever

Three decades after it all began, SEGA Networks announces a growing collection of classic video games for mobile

In celebration of a simpler time – an era that came before cool kale, hyper-connectedness, DIY artisanal beer-making, and social media mayhem – SEGA Networks Inc. is bringing a growing collection of classic video games from every console era to your mobile device for free. The collection, called SEGA Forever, is a re-awakening of archetypal gaming, an ode to the deep and diverse SEGA catalogue, and the beginning of a retro revolution that will transport players back through two decades of console gaming.

Each game in the SEGA Forever lineup is free-to-play, ad-supported, playable offline, and includes added features like cloud saves, controller support, and leaderboards. For players who prefer a pristinely ad-free mobile gaming experience – folks who want to play SEGA just like they remember playing in their basement, without interruptions from parents, siblings, or homework – SEGA have rolled back the price so each game can be purchased without ads for $1.99. As the SEGA Forever collection expands through months and years, it will include both official emulations and ported games that pan all SEGA console eras, each adapted specifically for mobile devices while remaining faithful to the original games.

“Above all else SEGA Forever is a celebration of nostalgia. It’s about allowing fans to reconnect with past experiences and share them with family and friends in an accessible and convenient way,” explains Mike Evans, CMO of SEGA’s Mobile Division in the West. “Join us on a journey of rediscovery as we roll out two decades of classic games free on mobile. Create your own ‘SEGA Forever folder’ and collect your favourite classics. Enjoy moments of nostalgia on the go, or sync a Bluetooth controller to enjoy a console-like experience in your living room. SEGA Forever democratises retro gaming, and seeks to change how the world plays, rediscovers, and shares in classic game experiences.”

The first batch of SEGA Forever games has been carefully curated, boasting both blockbusters and core fan favourites; The collection will officially kick off today with five Mega Drive / Genesis titles, all of which will be available to download for free on the Google Play Store for Android devices and on the App Store for iPhone and iPad, where they will be accompanied by iMessage sticker packs:

  • Sonic The Hedgehog, the 1991 household classic that has remained at the forefront of hearts and minds since inception
  • Phantasy Star II, the longtime fan-favourite RPG from 1989
  • Comix Zone and Kid Chameleon, two American titles developed by SEGA’s in-house studio STI
  • Altered Beast, the original Mega Drive / Genesis pack-in title, a beat-em-up set in Ancient Greece that represents a weird and wonderful segment of the SEGA catalogue that is ripe for rediscovery

 

Following today’s launch, the SEGA Forever collection will continue to grow with additional releases coming every two weeks. It took AGES to get here, so it’s now time to start playing!

image source: SEGA Forever

 

PAPRIUM: A New Brawler On The Sega Mega Drive

Strike Harder, Beat Stronger!

Do you yearn for a Streets Of Rage-like game for your old trusty Mega Drive (Sega Genesis to our American friends)?

Well yearn no more! WaterMelon Games, the development crew that makes cool retro games like Pier Solar, are back with their latest (and possibly greatest) 16-bit killer game, PAPRIUM (aka: ProjectY)!

PAPRIUM is a post-apocalyptic, outrageous head-kicking brawler made in the spirit of classic beat’em ups like Double Dragon, Final Fight and Streets of Rage. This brand new Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) game is being built from the ground up and is expected to smash on your 16-bit Sega console in 2017!

PAPRIUM has been lovingly crafted at WaterMelon’s Magical Game Factory using Investor’s votes and suggestions, which have helped shape the game! Make no bones about it, this game has been developed by a team driven by true passion and 16-bit excellence.

PAPRIUM is the biggest Sega Mega Drive game ever made (over 80-MEG!), featuring multiple game modes, speed (uncompromised 60fps!), 24 levels and up to 5 selectable characters! Come at us PAPRIUM, we are waiting!

We have pre-ordered ours, so if you want to do the same, go here.


source: WaterMelon Games

PS: Thank you to Anthony Durso for bringing PAPRIUM to our attention!

The Retro Freak: It’s Freakin Awesome

retrofreak_titleWhen we received the Retro Freak console from Play-Asia, we put our thinking cap on to try and find a way to review the unit objectively. Our thinking cap must’ve worked, as we came up with an ingenious idea – take the Retro Freak to the biggest gaming expo in the southern hemisphere, PAX Aus 2016!

By having the Retro Freak available to play at PAX Aus, it gave us the opportunity to observe attendees playing on the console and gauge their unfiltered and objective feedback. With thousands in attendance, we weren’t short of people having a go. There were youngsters and older players, families and couples all having a go. The overwhelming responses from players was, “What is this console?”, “Where can I get one?” and “How much is it?”.

Play your old school carts on the Retro Freak!
retrofreak_top_carts

For those that are not aware, this awesome console from Cyber Gadget allows you to play your original game cartridges/cards from your Famicom, SNES/Super Famicom, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, PC Engine, TurboGrafx-16, SuperGrafx, Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance. By supporting these legacy systems, the Retro Freak ensures that you only need the one console setup in your games room to play all of your favourite classic titles! Hooray, you can finally declutter!

Let’s put on scanlines!
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We love the clean and easy-to-use interface
retrofreak_screen

The Retro Freak pumps out its audio visuals via HDMI, supporting 720p upscaling, which makes your old school games look great on newer TVs – so no more needing that 20 year old CRT TV! Well, we would suggest that you still hold onto your CRT TV *winks*. The other cool features that will freak you out (in a good way) include; filters, backing up of games from cartridge onto the console (on MicroSD card), instant save states and cheat codes (for certain games).

For control, there is the pack-in SNES-style controller, which does the job well, or if you prefer, modern gamepads such as the DualShock 3 and DualShock 4 can also be used (via USB). The Retro Freak Premium pack ships with a controller adaptor that supports Famicom/NES, Super Famicom/SNES, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, and PC-Engine/TurboGrafx-16 controllers. If you prefer bluetooth control (perhaps you dislike wires!), you can procure the 8bitdo Retro Receiver, plug it into the controller adaptor and use any one of your PS3, PS4, WiiMote or Wii U controllers you may have lying around. Oh yeah, you can re-map controller buttons to suit your style! We love the flexibility that the Freak provides!

The pack-in controller does the job! At least the USB cable is 1.8M!
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One side of the Controller Adaptor – connect your fave gamepads!
retrofreak_controlleradapter

Other side of the Controller Adaptor reveals more classic controller ports!
retrofreak_controlleradapter2

So how does it compare to playing on the real hardware? We threw all kinds of games at the Freak, and it ran them without a hitch. We didn’t encounter any incompatibility issues, which ensured we didn’t rage quit and turn off the console. The transferring of original game cartridge data to MicroSD is as easy as breathing, thanks to the user friendly interface. One niggle we did have was with Cyber Gadget’s support page being in Japanese – it made it difficult to ascertain the firmware and application updates required to ensure the Retro Freak was up to date. Google did came to the rescue here by pointing us to a forum that had the instructions in English on how to upgrade the firmware.

The elephant in the room is the obvious comparison to the RetroN5. With quality issues hampering the RetroN5, we know which system we would prefer to use – if only the Retro Freak was as good looking as the RetroN5! If you want to be able to archive your original game carts and declutter by only having one console to play your classic games on, then you can’t go wrong with the Retro Freak!

If you are keen to check out the Retro Freak console, then head to Play-Asia now.

Play Operation Wolf straight from the PC-Engine HuCard, OR…
retrofreak_opwolf

Backup the Operation Wolf HuCard to microSD! It’s the best of both worlds!
retrofreak_opwolf_backup

The Retro Freak makes it to PAX Aus!
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Family gaming together!
retrofreak_pikachu

The Retro Freak was a hit at PAX Aus 2016! The Sega Mega Drive version of Aladdin was quite popular.
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Super Famicom F-Zero action aplenty!
retro_freak_fzero

Time to SUPER SMASH (some) TV!
retrofreak_smashtv

Thanks to Play-Asia.com for supplying the Retro Freak used in this review.

 

All Your Fave Mega Drive Games in One Place

SegaMD_Classics_HDRPut your retro party hats on peeps! SEGA Europe Ltd. is celebrating the launch of the all new SEGA Mega Drive Classics Hub on Steam with a 66% off sale on all SEGA Mega Drive games currently available on the platform. Anyone who purchases or already owns at least one SEGA Mega Drive title on Steam will be able to experience the wonder of the redesigned SEGA Mega Drive Classics Hub when it launches on the 28th April, 2016.

The new-look system, developed by d3t, from which you can access all the SEGA Mega Drive games you own on Steam, now resembles the bedroom of an early nineties SEGA fan with dynamic time-of-day conditions, retro SEGA paraphernalia, a shelf full of Mega Drive games reflecting which ones you own on Steam, and of course, a CRT TV! It’s not just cosmetic improvements though; every single Mega Drive game available now on the platform will feature Steam Workshop support, allowing you to share modified versions of your favourite retro SEGA titles!

In addition to these new features the all new SEGA Mega Drive Collection hub also includes, spot-on emulation, local co-op for games that support it, optional graphic enhancement filters, the ability to save states at any point during gameplay and full controller and keyboard support.

For a full list of SEGA Mega Drive games available on the platform (there are 5 packs to choose from!), log on to Steam now!

SegaMD_Classics_Pack

source: Sega

 

Celebrating the Sega Mega Drive

MegaDrive_TITLESega’s 16-bit beast may have arrived on our shores late in 1990, but on this day (October 29) in 1988, Japan got a taste of the future with the release of the Mega Drive. A leap from the Master System, the Mega Drive brought home (almost perfect) arcade conversions, especially those from Sega’s own arcade stable.

While most of the western world was still in the micro computing craze with their C64s, Amigas and Atari STs, Sega stamped their authority with their latest, and as history would record it, their most successful console ever. The Mega Drive was the catalyst for converting a generation of micro computing enthusiasts into console gamers, I should know, I was one of them. My transition from 8-bit (C64) and 16-bit (Atari ST) computing was quite stark – as soon as I got my Mega Drive and whacked in the pack-in Altered Beast game, I honestly thought I had an arcade in my bedroom. Once I played Golden Axe, I was smitten with the machine. Alas, from that day forward (well, for the duration of the 90s) my micro computers were relegated to the back of the wardrobe because there was a new gaming system in town, and its name was Mega Drive!

What were your earliest memories of Sega’s 16-bit beauty? Hit us up on Twitter or Facebook and join in the conversation.

 

Remembering the Sega Genesis Nomad

Nomad_1Handheld gaming is still popular as it’s ever been. The ability to play console quality games, especially retro games, on the mini-computer in my pocket, is totally insane. I can grind through dungeons in Final Fantasy; or zoom across Sonic’s digital landscape collecting enough rings for a chance at the bonus stage in order to get those elusive chaos emeralds in the Hedgehog’s Mega Drive/Genesis classic.

Playing these games on my smartphone got me thinking about portable gaming. When I was younger, I used to spend countless hours on my Nintendo Game Boy and later, my Sega handhelds. Nowadays, I love my Nintendo 3DS, PSP and the PS Vita, but I look back to my favourite handhelds of the past, and the one that sticks out most in my mind, is the Sega Genesis Nomad.

Nomad_2

This thing was a portable Sega Genesis system that nearly played every game cartridge that I had. There were only a couple that wouldn’t work, but this was long before you could download a software patch to fix such a problem. For those unfamiliar with the Nomad, this thing was a pocket sized Sega Genesis – as long as you had large pockets, it could go with you anywhere! Oh yeah, and as long as you had a handy supply of AA batteries (the unit was powered by six AA batteries). The battery pack that attached to the back of the machine was quite bulky. The batteries drained rather quickly, so, unless you had a part-time job to keep buying them, they were quite difficult to obtain. This wasn’t much of a deterrent, as you could play Sonic and Mortal Kombat on the go!

Nomad_4

Luckily, there was an adapter that made it possible to plug directly into mains power and even the cigarette lighter in your parents car – and with the headphone jack, you could be gaming without bothering the passengers. You could literally take it anywhere with the vast library of Genesis games – you were never short on playing awesome titles. The Nomad even had interfaces to connect to a regular TV, just like a home console, and also a second player controller connection for some 2P action!

Nomad_3

There were some attempts at bringing home console games to the portable realm, with NEC having a similar unit (Ed: the TurboExpress), but with Sega, you had their extensive library of games to draw from which the others could never compete with (Ed: except for NEC’s PC Engine GT). Sega had a massive hardware push through the 90’s, which ultimately didn’t work out for that side of their business. But it sure was a lot of fun while it lasted, and their Nomad was truly a remarkable device.

It pains me to this day to think that I traded it when the Playstation 2 hit the shelves and I just had to have one. I learned my lesson at that point and I have never traded away any of my old consoles since; portable or otherwise.

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Selby_logoMatt Thames
Blogger and Brand Manager at Selby Acoustics.