Jammin’ at the Commodore Club

CC_Jammin_HDRIt had been a while since we last attended the Amiga Users Group’s Commodore Club day. Going to one of these club meets is like a family reunion you look forward to – you know you will see people you know and like, and you are assured to have lots of fun. Well, it is safe to say, we had lots of fun playing games (terribly) and catching up with our great Commodore friends.

The highlight of the day was playing Throwback GamesJam It in four player mode on the C64. This pre-release basketball game even had our teams (Tweeters vs Slackers) and player names (I was MagicBoz) hard coded in by Leigh White, the brains behind the one-man-developer-shop at Throwback Games. We will interview Leigh in an upcoming feature to get to know him a little bit better and find out about his creation, Jam It, and its official release details. For now, I want to keep on jammin and slam-dunkin!

Welcome to Casa Commodore
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A box of C64 goodies. Let’s play lucky dip! 
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The C64 control deck! This is the nerve centre
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Meticulous organisation of the C64 5.25″ floppies
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The remastered Ghosts’N Goblins – it’s an absolute beauty!
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The battle of Xpiose: Dr Curlytek vs Zen Mare Retro
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Gonna have some Ivan ‘Ironman’ Stewart’s Super Off Road action!
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The C64 deck in 4-Player Joystick Mode!
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This stik is slik!
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Run for your life!
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Ice Skating (Hat Trick) battle: Reset Magazine Ed (Kev) vs The Doctor!
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The lads [L to R]: Rob, Stacey and Kevin getting ready to fly some taxis!
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Ashton Kutcher’s* dad’s creation – Space Taxi! *may not be true
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The beautiful Commodore 128D comes to life! 
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The A1200 – Now you are playing with power!
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Na na na na na na na na… BATMAN!
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Anyone for some Pooyan?
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C16 power!
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The 1200 can make anyone feel like a Hero!
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Oh that lush screen!
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Amiga 2000 represent baby!
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Getting ready to Jam!
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Jam It 4P battle: Tweeters vs Slackers! Who will win?
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Oo’er, I love me some Jam It stats!
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And the winner is……..
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Leigh White playing his creation!
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The aftermath!
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Kung Fury: Spot the Retro Gaming Goodness

KungFury_titleSurely you have all watched Laser Unicorns’ Kung Fury movie by now? If you haven’t, then please do yourself a favour and watch it! For those of you that have already feasted on this visual awesomeness, how many of you spotted the retrogaming gear within the movie? The most obvious of retrogaming items was the venerable Power Glove, worn by Hackerman. Here are a few more:

Golden Age Arcade Machines represent!
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Hackerman’s Retro Computer Lair. Is that a Macintosh?
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Oh, it’s so bad!
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The Aussie made Microbee!
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The venerable ZX Speccy! Sir Clive would be so proud.
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Hanging ten on the Microbee Model II
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I spy some tapes!
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source: Laser Unicorns – Kung Fury

2015 C64 SEUCK Competition Winner

SEUCK_TitleA few weeks ago there was a call to action for the game playing public to cast their votes for the C64 2015 Shoot’Em Up Construction Kit (SEUCK) Competition. Among the many talented candidates was our good friend, Anthony Stiller. Anthony’s entry, Abyssonaut, a horizontal scrolling shmup, was well received and deserved its entry in the competition.

Well, the votes have been counted and we can now proudly reveal the winner – drum roll please……. And the winner is, Abyssonaut (171 points) by Anthony Stiller!

SEUCK_2015_Results_tableTake a bow Anthony, this is a well deserved win and a great reward for all your hard yakka! As the Champagne starts flowing, we corner Anthony to ask him about the win:

AUSRETROGAMER [ARG]: Congratulations Anthony, and well done! Has the win sunk in?
Anthony Stiller [AS]: Thanks, Alex! Last night’s shock (Kev, the editor of Reset C64, gave me the heads up) has finally settled down a little. I was buzzing at 1am this morning after reading the results!

ARG: You beat some seasoned game creators, how does it feel to be crowned the winner for 2015?
AS: There were some really great entries this year and, while I was very happy with Abyssonaut and knew it was in with a good chance, I really wasn’t expecting first place. Alf Yngve, who’s been the reigning champion, is a lovely, talented guy and Gigablast was an excellent entry. Really, though, everyone who makes the time and effort to enter a solid game deserves to be commended.

ARG: What was your inspiration to make Abyssonaut?
AS: Great question! I was at a party and my eyes fell on the label of a bottle of Kraken spiced rum (true story!). Also, once I had decided to use Sideways SEUCK I was thinking of what the player sprite should look like. I wanted to see the player’s figure but I needed to work within the two frames of animation you get for the player sprite. So the player had to be riding a vehicle of some sort. I was almost immediately hit with the image of someone in SCUBA gear riding a seascooter into a seabase. I may have watched a few too many James Bond movies growing up. And the rest is history.

ARG: How long did it take to create Abyssonaut?
AS: About three months elapsed time and over 100 hours actual effort. That includes concept, design (I like the idea of using sketches for design work), testing, and a little marketing, but doesn’t factor in the time my playtesters put in.

ARG: What were some of the challenges creating the game?
AS: Like my previous SEUCK game, Sopwiths & Pterrordons (S&P), I really wanted to make a “proper” game – with gameplay flow, foreshadowing, and a subtle story built into the game itself. All that takes time and effort and lots of testing. I also wanted Abyssonaut to be on a grander scale than S&P. It has a far greater number of different enemies and the actual length of the game is more than twice that of S&P.

Finally, I wanted to ramp up the difficulty. S&P is quite easy. Level 1 of Abyssonaut is gentle but the curve ramps up dramatically in Level 2. There’s a proper end of level boss in Level 2 and at this stage I don’t think anyone’s reached it without cheating.

Oh, I also should add that getting all the animation right was a huge challenge. I need to stop using bio-organic creatures in my games!

ARG: Have you got any new SEUCK projects in the pipeline?
AS: Well, there’s a rumour that there’s going to be a Sideways SEUCK compo later this year and I’ve got this really interesting idea … ARG: Your secret is safe with us. It’s in the vault.

ARG: Just like any award ceremony, is there anyone you would like to thank?
AS: Oh, that’s a long list! First, thanks to Richard Bayliss. Not only does he run the competition, but he is also amazingly helpful and supportive. Stacey Borg, who is the best playtester ever! Cam, RobRaj and Kale, my brains trust. There are a whole lot more people out there in the retro scene whom I only know online and are always lifting me up! You know who you are! And, lastly, thanks to everyone who’s played Abyssonaut!

As we toast his achievement and clink Champagne glasses, we leave Anthony to enjoy his deserved win. For those of you that haven’t yet played Abyssonaut, what are you waiting for!

 

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 Mario Maker (working title) – an upcoming 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!
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A history lesson of all Super Mario Bros. games
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Create your own 2D Mario levels (on your Wii U)!
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Super Mario Bros. – Special Movie
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source: Nintendo UK

Interview with Aaron White: Chiptune Maestro

Aaron_HDRI know we have said this time and time again, and with the risk of sounding like a broken record, we’ll say it again – there are wonderful people around the world on social media. One such lad that fits in this ‘wonderful people’ category, is Mr. Aaron White from the UK. Since engaging with Aaron on Twitter, we have learned  that he has some seriously great talent in creating chiptune music on his beloved Amiga. Ms. ausretrogamer and I have become fans of Aaron’s compositions, so it was only natural for us to sit down with the chiptune maestro and put him through some rigorous questioning. Get your headphones on, tune-in to some cool chiptunes and read on!

AUSRETROGAMER [ARG]: When did you get into video gaming and what was your first games system? Do you still have it?
Aaron White [AW]: My first ever system was a Commodore 64 which I got on Christmas Day 1984. I still have vivid memories of waking up that Christmas morning & unwrapping this huge box and to my amazement, there it was, sitting right in front of me, a beautiful C64. I also received three games along with it which were Roland’s Rat Race by Ocean Software, Ghostbusters by Activision and World Games by Epyx/US Gold. All three were wonderful games. Stupidly, I sold my original C64 along with 100’s of games back in 1992, but I have since acquired two more C64s, one being a traditional breadbin model and the other being a C64C.

ARG: Were you a musician (if so, what instrument(s)?) before you got into making chiptunes? What made you get into music on computers?
AW: I had a keyboard and a guitar when I was younger (I still have a keyboard) even though I can read music, I was never that good at playing either instrument. I just used to try and jam along with my favourite records of the time, listening by ear and trying to play in tune. I suppose I first got into chiptune music when I got an Amiga 500 for Christmas 1989 (The Batpack edition). I would listen in amazement at the sounds and tunes this brilliant computer made. I’d often wonder how it was all done, until early in 1990, a friend of my father’s came around clutching a bunch of disks which contained Soundtracker. I listened in awe when he played back the Axel F theme tune from the hit movie Beverly Hills Cop. This tune, along with many others were on the ST-00 disk, which was the programme disk. They weren’t modules back then, they were songs, so first you had to click on that file to start loading it, and then it would ask you for various instrument disks such as ST-01, ST-02 and so on. This proved to be a pain as I only had five instrument disks, so there were quite a lot of songs that I couldn’t listen to. Still, it was the programme that had me hooked. Before I went onto composing tunes of my own, I started ripping songs/modules from various demos and games to play back and see how they were all put together (effects, commands and so on). Then one day I plucked up the courage to finally try composing something myself and I’m not ashamed to admit, my early efforts were truly awful (some of my very first tunes still exist to this day!). I didn’t understand timing, nor notation really, until I started to teach myself how to read music. Over the years I’ve stopped and started creating music on the Amiga, but over the past couple of years I’ve got back into it becoming a lot better and making my chiptunes sound ok. I think I keep improving all the time and to date, I’ve done over one hundred compositions (some original/some covers). Just as a side note, my programme of choice is Protracker 3.15.

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ARG: We are huge fans of your compositions, do you have any favourites?
AW: Thank you for your kind words. It always gives me encouragement and spurs me on to create more chiptunes when I receive feedback like that. As for favourites, this changes all the time, I think I’m still improving all the time and with each one that comes along, it tends to be my new favourite till the next one.

ARG: Who is your favourite chiptune/music artist?
AW: I have several favourite chiptune artists: 4-Mat of Anarchy, Nuke (also of Anarchy fame), Matt Furnis who went on to create a huge amount of game music, and one of my old friends Mub (a member of LSD), who lived not far from me in the same town. I loved Mub’s compositions and some of which he actually created at my house. I can only ever wish to aspire to be as good as these guys!

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ARG: Best music in a video game?
AW: Hmm, that’s a toughie. I love the tunes in Pinball Fantasies, I also love the in-game music to Aladdin, Supercars II and Monkey Island 1 and 2.

ARG: Tough question, ZX Spectrum or C64 (and why you chose that computer)?
AW: There’s no competition, C64 all the way for me! No colour clash, and far superior music. It was also my first computer I ever owned, and I will always be in love with it for that reason alone. ARG: Great answer! *winks*

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ARG: What is your favourite game or gaming genre?
AW: Again another toughie. I have a few favourites – on the Amiga, it has to be The Secret Of Monkey Island, Ruff N Tumble, Aladdin, and Toki. On the C64, I’d say – Batman: The Movie, The Untouchables, Platoon and for sentimental reasons, Roland’s Rat Race – as that was the first game I ever loaded up on my C64. I’m also looking forward to a few new games on the C64, two of which being Maze Of The Mummy and Jam It, which could well become new favourites of mine. As you can tell, I do love platform games, but I’m also a massive fan of adventure games (point & click) and sport games also.

Aaron_Pic3

ARG: Do you have an all-time favourite system?
AW: I have three all-time favourite systems – the C64, Amiga A1200 and the Sega Saturn. The first two are for the vast array of games that were available on both systems, as for the Sega Saturn, well, to finally get arcade perfect conversions of popular Sega titles running at home in front of my very eyes, it just blew my mind.

ARG: Finally, where can people go to listen to your awesome chiptune compositions?
AW: If people would like to check out my chiptunes, then they can – follow me on twitter (@aaronub4t) or check out my YouTube channel where I upload some of my compositions. Also, people can download Amiga disks I have created in ADF format which can either be used on a real Amiga or via emulation from vintage is the new old,  and from Commodore Is Awesome. As long as people keep enjoying them, I’ll keep making them. Enjoy!

As we say our goodbyes, we can’t help but be in awe of Aaron in what he has achieved with creating chiptune music – if only we were that talented! We’ll definitely be enjoying his next creation. For now, we’ll let Aaron get back to playing one of his (many) Ocean games.

 

The Sega Genesis 32X Wasn’t Just a Gimmick

SegaGenesis_32X_HdrMany gamers, me included, have fond memories of Sega at its prime – they were ready to knock Nintendo off of its pedestal. The Sega Genesis, in all of its 16-bit glory, took home gaming to an entirely new level. The colors were more varied and vivid, the music was better, and the worlds that we visited were more realistic. That’s not to say that I didn’t love my NES, but my Sega held a special place in my heart.

Nintendo didn’t just sit around and let Sega have all of the 16-bit fun, and soon, the Super Nintendo was looking to dominate the home video game market. Maybe this was the reason why Sega felt like they needed to improve upon the Genesis, by adding peripherals and add-ons like the Sega CD and 32X.

While I never was a big fan of the CD add-on, I did enjoy the 32X addition to my Genesis. It basically plugged into the cartridge slot, and into the back of the system, essentially doubling the output of the unit. The 32X promised better sound, especially through a premium Selby home theater surround sound system, brighter colors and ushered in true three-dimensional gaming to the masses.

I wasn’t sure about the add-on at first until I happened to see a demo at my local mall for the fighting game Virtua Fighter. It was a 3D fighter with fully articulated fighters on a 3D field. The camera rotated around the fighters and the polygonal figures on the screen moved so realistically. I was so gobsmacked, I knew I had to buy the system immediately.

32x_VFsource: Wikipedia

Now, the ultimate promise that Virtua Fighter made on the fledgling system never really materialized. It was probably the best game on the system and although there were other good games such as Mortal Kombat 2, Star Wars Arcade, and the Sonic and Knuckles games, there were many other games that weren’t much more than pretty ports of the original game, but ultimately the best version of the game.

Even though the system was not very successful and ultimately only 30 or so games were released, it had a lot going for it and was a stepping stone towards the games we enjoy today. You have to hand it to Sega for having the guts to give this thing the green light in the first place. It offered near perfect arcade ports of games that were unbelievable at the time and affordable to most people as well.

Nowadays the system is mostly for collectors, but some of these games are still pretty fun to play, even 20 years after their release, such as Virtua Racing, NBA Jam and Space Harrier. With more third party support, the 32X might have been considered a classic today with a huge library of games…unfortunately, it has become just a footnote in the history of gaming, much like Nintendo’s Virtual Boy…my eyes and head hurt just thinking about that thing.

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Selby_logoMatt Thames
Blogger and Brand Manager at Selby Acoustics.

 

 

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Pixels Invading The Silver Screen

Pixels_TitleOn the back of the Wreck’It Ralph success, it seems that video game characters and themes are the hottest ticket in Hollywood right now! Sony Pictures Entertainment have released their second official trailer for their upcoming Pixels movie.

Set for release this (northern hemisphere) summer, the movie sees four mates (Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage) use their former arcade gaming prowess to save the world from invading intergalactic aliens, including Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Galaga, Centipede and Space Invaders!

The movie will hit Australian cinemas on July 30! Are you game to watch Pixels? Let the the trailer whet your appetite.


source: Sony Pictures Entertainment