Flippin Fun at the Seattle Pinball Museum

SPM_HDRI got to hand it to Ms. ausretrogamer, her research skills and effort to find fun (gaming related) venues in cities we visited on our North American trip, was second to none. I knew Seattle was going to be a cool city to visit, but we were totally blown away by how much there was to do and see. Rather than cram everything in one article, we thought we would start with the highlight, the Seattle Pinball Museum!

The Seattle Pinball Museum (SPM) is in the heart of Seattle’s Chinatown / International district (508 Maynard Ave S Seattle). Entry is $13USD for an adult ($18USD if you want to come and go), which gives you unlimited play on all the pinball and arcade machines inside the multi-storey entertainment centre. Once you pay your entry fee, you just hit start on any machine and go for your life (except The Wizard Of Oz machine)! We started proceedings on the world’s biggest pinball machine, Hercules! This thing was massive! Instead of a metallic sphere to knock around, Hercules uses a white billiard ball! The flippers were more like bats, and there was no way you could bump and tilt like you would on a normal table. I must say, it was an experience playing on Hercules, but my eyes quickly diverted to Fish Tales!

On the ground floor, the pinball tables were arranged from oldest to the latest offerings from Stern and Jersey Jack Pinball. There were no queues to wait (on the day we were there), so we jumped from one table to the next – experiencing everything from the early 70s right through to the current day machines.

Upstairs was a mix of pinball tables (Gorgar, The Flintstones, Taxi, Terminator 2, Space Invaders among others) and arcade machines straight out of the golden age era – Asteroids, Missile Command, Pacman and Galaga, just to name a few. It was great to see these machines once again, and it was even better seeing the new generation of kids enjoying these classics.

We had such a great time at the Seattle Pinball Museum, we totally lost track of time. Ms ausretrogamer had to tap me on the shoulder to let me know that we were the last ones inside and that the other machines were being turned off for the day. Luckily for me, Mike (from SPM) was cool enough to let me finish my game. Before we did leave, we bought a few souvenirs from the SPM, an awesome tee and a few pinball badges to remind us of the great time we had. If we lived in Seattle, I know where we would go every week!

At last, we arrive!

Entering the wonderful world of the Seattle Pinball Museum!

Even the wall art was awesome (and in theme) in this place!

The pinball wizards having some flippin fun

Whoa! The World’s largest pinball game! This thing was huge!

Yep, that’s a billiard ball to play on the largest pinball game on the planet!

Yours truly enjoying some Fish Tales! Haven’t played this in ages! So good!

The pinball tables were arranged from oldest to latest – Texan is the oldest at the Museum

Texan’s starting control deck – oh how beautiful

Oh wow, this Star Trek Enteprise Limited Edition table had to be seen to be believed (it was so sleek and gorgeous)

No matter where you turned, there were pinball tables begging to be played!

Best part of being here – trying pinball games I had never played before!

LoTR is now in my top 10 fave pinball tables of all time! That’s a big call!

Nice to look at, but a nightmare to play. Perhaps I needed more practice…

Ms. ausretrogamer was hooked on Scared Stiff

Woo hoo – top 4 high score on Theatre of Magic!

He shoots, he scores! Another classic Bally table!

This Indy machine brought back lots of fond memories.

Make it so, Number One. Two absolute classics side-by-side!

Let’s start shootin!

A signed Stern AC/DC Pro table! We loved the info on top of each pinball machine.

Found a couple of Pinball 2000 machines too.

Looking back at all the awesomeness.

Ah, The Wizard Of Oz – a table you must play at least once in your life!

The rise of the arcade machines……..

I wonder what wonderment we’ll find upstairs?

More awesome pinball machines upstairs, and……..

Golden Age arcade machines!

Baby Pac-Man – a hybrid arcade and pinball machine!

A different perspective of Baby Pac-Man

Oh wow, I had forgotten how hard Missile Command was at the arcade!

Aha, there she is! She is still beautiful, even after all these years…..

The new generation enjoying the old generation of arcade machines

Oh man, another absolute classic from the Golden Age!

The view from above.

Finally, I get to play the real Gorgar instead of playing it on the iPad!

The view below still looks good.

What to play first? The Who’s Tommy Pinball Wizard or Taxi? Tough decision.

Another rock band inspired pinball table!

While we are here, we might as well have a go on The Flintstones.

More awesome wall art upstairs (wish we could have taken some home!).

Oh yeah baby, a bit of Stardust always goes down well.

Another one of my all-time fave tables – you better believe it!

Found you! I can never get enough of Monster Bash!

Just reading up on my fave table before we have to leave *sad face*

We couldn’t leave the Seattle Pinball Museum without some souvenirs and mementos! Hooray!

Venue: Seattle Pinball Museum
Address: 508 Maynard Ave S, ​Seattle, WA 98104
Hours of operation:
— 10 to 5 on Sunday | Monday | Wednesday
— 12 to 10 on Thursday | Friday | Saturday
— Closed on Tuesday


Super Mario Bros. 30th Anniversary

SuperMario_30_titleTo help celebrate Super Mario Bros. 30th anniversary (released in Japan on 13 September 1985), Nintendo UK have paid homage to the Brooklyn plumber by creating a very cool website. The dedicated site has: an about and thank you page, an awesome history of all Super Mario games, a link to Super Mario Maker – the awesome new Wii U release, and finally, a 43 second Special Movie for the king of all video game character franchises.

Check out the site now and celebrate the Super Mario Bros. 30th Anniversary with Nintendo! Be sure to check back often for more announcements from the Big N!

Nintendo says Thank You to everyone for loving Super Mario!

A history lesson of all Super Mario Bros. games

Super Mario Bros. – Special Movie SuperMario_30_Video

source: Nintendo UK

Street Fighter The New Challenger: Ryu

street-fighter-t-n-c-01-ryu_1Attention Street Fighter fans: The highly successful The New Challenger (T.N.C.) 01: Ryu figure from BigBoysToysHK is reaching its last and final run and is about to release soon! Make sure you do not miss out and orders yours now, and use the LASTCHANCE4RYU code for a further $8.00USD discount upon checkout! It’s a win win!

This stylized Ryu sits on a custom diorama representing his Street Fighter II: The World Warriors stage and is depicted with his iconic Hadouken stance; the Hadouken actually lights up by pressing the Street Fighter button on the diorama stand (Ed: Oo’er!)! As well, for every press of the button, the official soundclip of Ryu shouting “HADOUKEN” will be played! This is truly a great collector piece. Grab it while you can!

street-fighter-t-n-c-01-ryu-darkimage source: Play Asia


Bartronica: Lair Of The Barcadian

bartronica_HDRAfter a hard days work, where does one go to quench their thirst and get a fix of gaming nostalgia? That’s an easy one to answer – you make your way to Bartronica, a city barcade establishment at 335 Flinders Lane, Melbourne.

Nestled between Elizabeth and Queen (streets), the barcade is in the perfect spot in Melbourne’s Central Business District. The entry to Bartronica is via downward stairs, and upon entry, the establishment is revealed in all of its glory, beginning with the well stocked bar. Speaking of which, there are plenty of beverages which would definitely quench your hard earned thirst. As you down your drink, you notice the upright arcade machines; NBA Jam, Street Fighter II, The Simpsons, Mortal Kombat IIGolden Axe and 1943, and these are just the tip of the iceberg – there are plenty more upright machines jostling for your attention. It doesn’t end there, the venue also has driving and shooting cabinets plus six great pinball tables to get you flippin!

For those seeking comfort, Bartronica also has cool lounges for you to sit and take a load off. If you like to play from the comfort of the lounge, there are old school consoles from Sega and Nintendo which are free to play! The consoles provide a fun way to challenge your friends in some awesome multiplayer gaming action, like Super Mario Kart 64, all while kicking back and sipping on a drink.

With their wonderful hospitality, Bartronica makes everyone feel welcome – it is the kind of place where you would visit quite frequently, on your own or with friends. So the next time you are in the city and in need of a watering hole with a twist, then head on over to Bartronica, you’ll have a blast!

Entering the lair of the barcadian

Anticipation builds, one step at a time!

Hello Bartronica!

What is your poison?

In the driver’s seat, Bartronica owner – Josh Flamank

What to play first?

TMNT it is!

A row of beauties begging to be played

Retro Domination’s Daz Retro hits Ninja Gaiden

Daz Retro gets hacking on Golden Axe!

Behind the bar

Working up a serious thirst!

Taking a load off with Super Mario Kart 64!

Run out of coins? Don’t stress, whack in some notes

The view from the deck

Hello Lisa!

Getting some 16-bit action

Playing some Sonic from the comfort of the plush lounge

Cool light artwork!

Golden Axe immortalised on the wall

Hang on a second, there’s pinballs over there!

There they are – glorious pinball!

Demolishing Demolition Man

Retro Domination’s Matt Cawley gets flippin on Fastbreak!

Matt has silver ball fever!

Drinking + playing = a good night

Action aplenty!

Retro Domination Street Fighter II Battle: Daz Retro vs Matt Cawley!

Venue: Bartronic – Arcade Bar
Address: 335 Flinders Lane, Melbourne


Kick That Yellowing Amiga 1200 Case To The Curb

Amiga1200_Casing_titleForget the yellowing case adding character to your Amiga 1200, you ain’t fooling anyone with that. Now is your chance to spruce up the Commodore beast with a brand new casing! You’ll definitely be the envy of your Amiga (Ed: and ST) mates.

When Philippe Lang advised us of their ambitious project to build new casings for their 23 year old computers, we must admit, our interest was piqued. The Amiga 1200 is the crown jewel of the Commodore range, and it deserves all the love it can get. Philippe and his friends decided to share their project with the worldwide Amiga community, which is great news for all of us. As part of their Kickstarter campaign, they will be building the new molds from scratch, with all kinds of variations – from resolving original design flaws and colour variations, to cool enhancements to the casings, there is something for every Amiga 1200 fan.

Go and check out the Kickstarter campaign now, you still have a fair few days to pledge!

Some of the cool A1200 case colour variations!

We love these limited edition colours, especially the gold!

image source: A1200 Housing – Kickstarter

Jam It: White’s Men Can Jump

JamIt_C64_TitleAt our recent Commodore Club meet we had the pleasure of meeting Leigh White from Throwback Games and got to play a pre-release of his upcoming C64 basketball game, Jam It.

We were so blown away by the game, we couldn’t believe that one person was responsible in the creation of this amazing piece of software for the C64! Think NBA Jam TE on a vertical half court with heaps of features and stats to keep the most ardent of basketball fans interested. Add some tight gameplay mechanics with loads of intensity and 4 player support in the mix, and you have a game that is super addictive and fun. Sports games players will be salivating on their joysticks with this one! It truly doesn’t get any better than this on the C64!

We bailed up the creator of Jam It to ask him a few questions that we know all of you are busting to find out about. Let’s go and shoot some hoops with Leigh White!

AUSRETROGAMER [ARG]: Hey Leigh, let’s start by telling us a bit about yourself and how you got into making games?
Leigh White [LW]: I’m relatively new at making games. When I had a C64 as a kid I attempted some things in BASIC and did a lot of type-ins from books and magazines, however Jam It is the first game I’ve actually completed.

I started it in late 2010 just as a side hobby to take my mind off work. My day job involves maintaining IT systems and in whatever spare time I had I was practicing guitar and writing music as a distraction. For whatever reason during a lunch break, I did some research on XNA Game Studio and had the idea of attempting to make an overhead race car game. I thought I’d soon give up and return to guitar (who wants more hours of the day in front of a computer!?!?) however I stuck with it for a couple of weeks and got a very basic prototype going.

At the same time I was doing some experiments in assembly language on the C64 to see how difficult it would be to write a game. To explain better – as you don’t decide on a whim to do this! – when I was younger, I spent ridiculous amounts of time on the C64 and I still enjoy playing games today on emulators – equally as much as playing modern games. There’s also a couple of online outlets who sell C64 games made by current developers and I was getting into those.

Anyhow, with my C64 experiment I had reached the point where I had a basic prototype tennis game and started having ideas for a basketball game. So now I was at a cross-roads. I knew making a game was going to take a lot of time and would take away time from music. The choice was then to make a game for the C64 (where there is a very limited audience, and the chance of a huge financial reward is zero) or make a game for a modern platform (mobile, PC and console gaming was growing rapidly, and lots of money to be made if you get everything right) … so I chose the C64 …

A lot of it actually came down to determining the reality of what I could realistically complete. For modern games, the sky is the limit with what you can create, whereas on the C64 (or any retro platform) you have very restrictive limits with what you can do with graphics, sound and memory. Having those limits meant there would be a forced end point regardless of me having millions of other feature ideas. I also knew I’d enjoy doing the C64/basketball thing as they were a big part of my life growing up.

I had the basketball game clearly in my mind and thought maybe I could have it done in 12-18 months and if I enjoyed the experience, move on and attempt a modern game. Well here I am now 4 and a half years later, Jam It is being released on the 12th of July 2015 and I’ve got more C64 game ideas than before!

The man behind the brilliant Jam It C64 game, Leigh White

ARG: How did the idea of Jam It come about?
LW: The main inspiration was from a C64 game One on One – Dr J vs Larry Bird. It was one of the first games I had as a kid and considering it’s age, it is actually an excellent basketball game. It gets a lot of things right with the gameplay – how it’s all about out maneuvering your opponent to get a clear shot close to the ring, letting you post up, do fading shots, dunk and manage your energy.

The only issue I thought, it was a bit too slow – only until now, playing on an emulator in NTSC mode I realised why this is. I *think* the game was made in the US – or at least for that market – where NTSC systems/TVs have a faster refresh rate. We then got the same game with no changes to compensate for the slower PAL refresh rate, and hence, the sluggishness.

There was also another not well known game on the C64 called GBA Basketball. It was a 2-on-2 full court game with great graphics, some more tactical play elements and 2 players as team mates option but felt restrictive compared to ‘One on One’. For example, you couldn’t do fading jump shots and dunks were a fixed animation and didn’t have the action ‘wow’ factor you get in watching a pro game of basketball. Regardless, it was still fun but not in a way you’d initially expect.

So really Jam It is a mash-up of these two games from my younger game playing days with some extras added along the way. My aim from the start was to make players feel the excitement you get from a real game. To achieve this, the direction I ended up taking was to make it more an intense arcade sports action game. There is a lot of strategy involved but it’s all about making quick decisions in the moment, much like the real game.

As an overall package, it really is an attempt to fit as much into 64KB that is what you get in pro-basketball – the dunks, extreme shots, exciting plays, nail-biting finishes, action replays, stats and cheerleaders!

Thrilling 3 pointers!

ARG: How long did the entire project take – from the ideas phase to completion?
LW: The best conservative estimate I have is around 750-800 hours … I’d actually say it’s more. My routine is generally to get up very early in the morning and work on it for anywhere between 30 minutes to a couple of hours before work. After most sessions I’ll make a backup, but sometimes I’ll be working for hours on just one bug. I’m up to backup version 439. Some of those might only have been about 30 minutes work, whereas others might have 5+ hours.

Mind you, this is all spread over 4 and a half years which I actually feel that has benefited the development. This is in the sense that I’ll have an idea but I won’t be able to try it at least for a day or two. By the time I get around to coding, the idea might have morphed into something better or been scrapped entirely. Similarly, for ideas that I have put in the game – I play them for a bit, get a break and return to play them in another session and have time to decide if they really add to it or not. There’s plenty of features that have been ripped out entirely to make way for new ones.

Let’s see that alley-oop on instant replay!

ARG: What was the hardest part of making Jam It?
LW: Apart from spending hours trying to detect bugs caused by the game randomly overwriting its own code, I’d have to say dealing with the memory and CPU constraints. The limitations are a positive and negative in the sense that you really have to identify and prioritise early on what the important things you want to happen are, and build those in. It becomes very problematic if you later think of another great feature but to put it in means sacrificing an existing feature because you’ve run out of memory or CPU cycles.

What I mean by ‘CPU cycles’ is that the C64 on a PAL (Australian) TV refreshes 50 times per second. Within that 1/50 of a second you have 19565 CPU cycles to work with in executing game code, so you need to be efficient with what you write, especially when some instructions can take 6 cycles just to store a value in a memory location!

The other difficult thing was not knowing if I would ever complete it. I hit a few big bugs which made me question if I’d be able to get through them, and even in the early stages, just programming the code to get the ball to make its way to the ring from any position on court was problematic. There’s actually a clever algorithm for achieving this called ‘Bresenham’s line algorithm‘ and was devised way back in 1962! It’s great having the algorithm but I then had to translate it into assembly language suitable for my purposes. In a modern language you could knock it out in under 20 lines of code, but in my case it was 80+ lines of instructions.

It really wasn’t until I was about 3/4 of the way through making the game that I was confident I could complete it. I had left sound and music fairly late in the process and it was yet another challenge, but it would be pointless releasing the game without that. There’s a great tool on PC called GoatTracker for writing C64 music. The thing is, you really need to understand how the C64 sound chip works while getting a good work out in the hexidecimal numbering system.

Comprehensive stats for the statistician in you!

ARG: There are lots of great features in Jam It (we love the slo-mo shot and instant replay among many others) – what is your best feature in the game?
LW: I really like the slo-mo (highlight) shots too. That came out of an accident while searching for a graphical bug. I had to make the play slow down dramatically as soon as the player jumped with the ball to spot the issue. As soon as it happened, I thought this was a great way to get more extreme looking dunks into the game. The way it works now is you get 3 ‘highlight shots’ per game, and can activate one whenever you have the ball. The next shot you take will be in slow motion, giving you the opportunity to do Jordan-esque dunks or take a crazy long distance shot. If you time it correctly, you’ll get a guaranteed score, so they’re handy when you’re a long way behind or as a buzzer beater.

The action replays I’m also really happy with – the idea was borrowed (stolen!) from ‘One on One’ and makes a huge difference in multi-player games where you can show off the amazing shot you just did. It actually takes up a fair bit of memory but it’s worth the sacrifice. Every second screen refresh, the game writes all of the sprite objects’ position, animation frame and colours to memory which can then be triggered for playback after a goal is scored.

The commentary can be entertaining too. After a goal is scored there’ll be a random phrase generated. Some of these are pre-written but many of them are a random arrangement of basketball jargon and obscure adjectives.

Aside from the usual basketball things like being able to shoot, you can do alley oop pass/dunks, defensive switches, steal from your team mate and block their shot. It’s even possible to give yourself an alley oop dunk – you won’t see that in NBA 2K games! This one wasn’t deliberately put in the game – it was an accidental discovery during testing – and not sure that it’s legal in the game but that doesn’t matter.

Enjoy the half-time show!

ARG: We enjoyed playing the pre-release at our recent Commodore Club meet, how has the feedback been so far?
LW: The feedback has been way better than I ever imagined. I first took it to AVCon 2014 in Adelaide, which is a huge gaming/cosplay expo. I didn’t even think I’d get accepted – since it is a game for an old system – but I did, and went with no expectations. To my surprise, kids, parents and gamers alike were very positive about it – they could pickup the controls easily even if they didn’t understand basketball and appreciated that for all the detailed touches to replicate the basketball experience (within the 8 bit world constraints), it doesn’t take itself too seriously with its gameplay firmly leaning to an arcade game feel. I even find myself struggling with new basketball games getting used to all the button combinations. On the C64 you’re limited to one button and surprisingly that’s enough to be able to do all the actions that you need.

The thing that has really helped is that it supports anywhere from 1 to 4 human players, making it a great social and competitive game. The solo player mode has enough challenge with bonus unlockables to give you incentive to play through too. Once you start adding extra human players, that’s when it really stands out – there’s nothing more competitive than seeing 4 players locked in a tied game with 10 seconds left on the clock!

I also had the opportunity to run a demo of it for a few hours at PAX Aus 2014 and the Freeplay Fete 2015 and the response was equally as positive. Many people who had C64s in the ’80s were shocked but happy to hear that there were new games being developed today. I’m hoping that this adds to the support for other developer’s games in the C64 community – it’s a hobby purely done for the enjoyment and nostalgia rather than any possible financial reward.

Jam It – it will be a slam dunk!

ARG: When will Jam It be officially released and where can we get our grubby mits on this awesome game?
LW: It will be available to purchase as a digital download on July 12 2015 at itch.io ($2.99USD) – with the digital download you can play it using an emulator (needs to be installed on your PC/Mac/console/handheld) or on your C64 if you have a suitable hardware add-on.

The download package will include a pre-configured copy of the VICE C64 emulator for Windows so you can get started straight away. Anyone who is still unsure about emulation can just drop me a message via the contact form on our site at Throwback Games and I’ll try my best to assist.

The great thing about VICE is that it can emulate the C64 Protovision 4 interface adapter so you can run 4 controllers. Instructions for how to do this are included with the game.

Keep an eye out on the following sites for a direct link to purchase the game when it becomes available: Throwback Games, Facebook and on Twitter.

There is also a Commodore 64 cartridge, disk and tape release in the works. These are almost ready and release dates will be announced very soon after the digital download. Keep an eye on the above sites and also: Psytronik (disk/tape) and RGCD (cartridge).

Whet your b-balling appetite!

ARG: Any future projects you could reveal to us here?
LW: If Jam It miraculously sold amazingly well (i.e. in the hundreds of copies), then I might consider making a conversion for modern systems just to make it more accessible to a wider audience. I also like the idea of writing a comprehensive ‘making of’ package including key versions of the game with features that never made the final cut.

I have a couple of C64 prototype games sitting there, one being a tennis game, which again, supports 1-4 players, so it would make a good follow up to Jam It (ARG: Oh man, yes please!). The other is a split screen motorbike racing game, similar to Excite Bike for the NES, but with the added bonus of 2 human players to race against each other (ARG: I think I am going to faint!). You can do flips to build up bonus turbo boosts and it has the working title of ‘Motorman’.

There’s a lot of ideas but the issue is having time more than anything else. I don’t think I could justify quitting my day job to make C64 games at the moment!

Leigh’s next BIG gaming projects for the C64?  – Tennis and Motorman!


As we shoot our last hoop with Leigh, we say our goodbyes and wish him all the best with the Jam It release. We reckon the game will be a slam-dunk success on the C64!

If you have a C64 or if you prefer to play via emulation, do yourself a favour and grab Jam It – it is jam packed with awesomeness! Seriously, for a game this damn good, you would expect to pay ten times the asking price of $2.99USD! Buy it now so Leigh can quit his day job and make more brilliant games!

JamIt_Leigh_HDRimage source: Throwback Games

The Magic Of Sega: 3D Arcade Classics For Your 3DS

Sega3D_AllBefore Yu Suzuki embarked on the Shenmue saga, he created some of the most technically impressive and enduring games for Sega. During that golden age of arcade machines in the 80s, you would have been hard pressed not to have played on at least one Sega arcade machine – there was the into the screen blaster, Space Harrier, the Top Gun dog-fighter After Burner II, the superb Super Hang-On, the Blue Thunder channeling Thunder Blade, the rail shooter Galaxy Force II (Deluxe Edition), and of course, the sublime driving game with that awesome radio with cool tunes, Out Run.


The conversions of these arcade games on our beloved 8 and 16-bit systems weren’t much chop, I mean, they were ok, but let’s face it, there was a vast chasm between the technically superior arcade hardware and the less-refined home based systems of yesteryear. Fast forward 30 odd years and you have home systems more powerful than a cabinet ten times the size! Imagine if someone told you in 1989 that you would have an arcade perfect version (Ed: actually, even better than the arcade!) of Space Harrier, After Burner II or even Out Run in the palm of your hands? Surely you would have had them committed. Well, before you call the psych ward, that day has come – If you are yearning for some vintage Sega arcade gaming nostalgia on your Nintendo 3DS handheld (Ed: Who would have thought that we would ever say Sega and Nintendo in the one sentence!), then rack up some Nintendo eShop credits and have yourself a blast!

Get some Out Run into ya!

Have some Sega fun on your Nintendo!

source: SEGA Blog