Galencia Blasts Onto Your C64

Fire up your trusty Commodore 64 and grab Jason Aldred’s brilliant new shoot’em up Galencia.

For those that have been away on Mars and have just landed back on Earth, Galencia is a fast action shoot ’em up for the C64 in the mould of Galaga, but even better! Yes, it is that good that we reckon it is even better than Galaga – there, we said it.

Galencia features 50 action packed levels with asteroid fields, challenging stages, boss battles, ebb and flow difficulty curve and siren enemy with tractor beam for double ship action (Ed: oo’er!). The game includes gorgeous intro, launch and completion sequences, coupled with 6 unique SID chiptunes for your aural pleasure.

Blast-Off!

But wait, there is more! In-game options include:

  • Load, Save and Reset High Scores
  • Extensive CRT options including 3 levels of Starfield Brightness
  • 3 different Score Palettes
  • Tournament Mode
  • Music and Simultaneous Sound Effects or Sound Effects only
  • 3 selectable difficulty levels; and
  • Pause and Quit game options

There are many great people behind great games, just like the peeps that had a hand in creating Galencia. We can all thank these talented group of people for making such a wonderful and sublime game:

  • Jason Aldred: programming and graphics
  • Pulsebot: all music and some sound effects
  • Saul Cross: additional graphics and sound effects
  • Lobo: physical artwork including box and manual
  • Mark Hardisty: manual back cover illustration
  • Flemming Dupont: concept art
  • Jakob Chen-Voos: Protovison

Even the great Julian ‘Jaz’ Rignall gives his sizzling approval!

You can grab the digital version right now via itch.io for US$4.99 (which is an absolute steal!), or for the more traditionalists among us, Galencia will be available on physical media from Friday, November 17 via Protovision Games, just take a look at these tangible temptations:

  • Cassette (without box) €10.00 – comes on a green cassette with a j-card that can be flipped around for an alternative cover picture. The tape comes in a neon green jewel case (front side is fully transparent, only back is neon green).
  • Cassette (boxed) €30.00
  • Disk (boxed) €30.00
  • Cartridge (boxed) €40.00
  • Disk and Cartridge Special Edition (boxed) €50.00

All boxed editions of Galencia will come in a fully printed cardboard box with custom inlays to hold the disk, tape or cartridge, which will also include:

  • a full colour manual with 16 carefully designed pages (A5 sized),
  • Galencia coaster with a scratch free glass surface,
  • Bee key ring that can serve you as a trophy when you battle against vermin,
  • Big Galencia sticker that you can stick on your disk sleeve if you have the disk version; and
  • While stocks last – the first 200 boxed version orders will receive an additional small Galencia sticker!

With the Disk and Cartridge special edition, both physical media will be in the one box with all of the above inclusions, plus a space amulet that is much needed in higher levels of Galencia, as it has been reported to promote good fortune!

Oh yeah, the game works on both PAL and NTSC C64 computers, with all physical editions containing the tape and disk digital images. If you don’t have a C64, then emulation is fully supported through VICE.

So what are you waiting for, go and pilot the 1981 Galencia Fighter to restore order, before it’s too late!

The game is never over!

The eyes have it!

Credit where credit is due

Tough choice – will you grab Galencia on cart?

On disk?

Or on tape? The choice is yours (you can’t go wrong!)

Time to squash some bugs!

Go on, get blastin’

image source: Jason Aldred – Galencia HQ

 

SKYCURSER Is Coming Soon To Shoot Up Your Arcade

Who says that the arcade is dead? If you are sick of seeing redemption machines at your local amusement centre, then perhaps the new horizontal shoot’em up, SKYCURSER will draw you back for some good old fashion blasting!

Griffin Aerotech’s SKYCURSER takes players through some gorgeously drawn worlds in which they must battle mutant hordes to save the planet. SKYCURSER has a total of four missions with a reward scoring system that keeps things quite competitive.

The game runs on a platform called Airframe and its creators have also promised free game updates. A year ago, the Griffin Aerotech team expressed hopes that the open-source nature of Airframe would attract other independent designers to create games for arcade cabinets and controls. This means that operators could potentially swap several games on the same Airframe using only a USB stick, which brings back memories of swapping those good old Neo Geo MVS cartridges.

There’s a Pro (USD$700) and Deluxe (USD$1,200) version of the kitted game, each coming with necessary software and hardware while the Deluxe has additional conversion art. The game is also available in a dedicated arcade cabinet ready to hit the floor (USD$3,499). Conversion kits are expected to ship by June 2017. For information on purchasing the game in a dedicated cabinet, click here.

The arcade industry needs more of these good old fashioned arcade games, like SKYCURSER, to draw back the 80s and 90s kids (now adults) into arcade centres for them to have fun while introducing their own children to the kind of games they played at their age many moons ago.

image source: Griffin Aerotech

 

Retro Rich: R-Type High Score Record Holder

RetroRich_Rtype_HDRIf it’s one thing we know about Richard Evans (aka: Retro Rich), he is one dedicated gamer! We have been keeping an eye on Rich’s high score record attempts on Twin Galaxies, and we can now reveal that Rich has achieved (yet again!) another high score record, this time it’s on the awesome Irem shoot’em up, R-Type.

With a swag of Twin Galaxies high score records to his name, we thought we’d chat to Rich while he takes a breather from his next record attempt and ask how he found the R-Type arcade game and what was his regime to becoming a high score record holder on this great shmup. Strap yourself in and enjoy your R-9 flight!

AUSRETROGAMER [ARG]: Hey Rich, we heard that you got yourself the brilliant horizontal shoot’em up R-Type – why that game and what is it about R-Type that made you hunt it down?
Retro Rich [RR]: My first console was the Sega Master System, and one of the first games I got for it was R-Type. I remember playing it a lot even though I found it extremely difficult. I loved the gameplay and music. I know now that it was a pretty good conversion from the arcade game considering the technical limitations of the Master System. I really wasn’t very good at it! I think I only ever made it to Stage 4 back in those days. Once I got back into gaming and then into arcade collecting, I realised that I may be able to actually own the original R-Type arcade game – so my hunt began on the forums to see if I could get one.

ARG: How hard was it to find and then buy the game?
RR: Once I started looking on the forums, I discovered that the arcade board came in two main types. Quite often, the Irem golf game Major Title was converted to an R-Type by making numerous modifications to the circuit board and replacing the ROMs. There is even a way to make the same board run both R-Type and R-Type 2 with a selector – which is pretty cool! These boards are quite common and can go for quite a bit of money. However, I wasn’t interested in playing the second instalment and there was something alluring about owning the original Irem R-Type board rather than the conversion, so my search continued.

I posted in the wanted section of the UKvac forum and waited. After a week or two I was contacted by a collector who lives North-West of Birmingham, a good 3 hours drive from my place in the South-East of the UK. The seller had an original R-Type board in a Video Wizard JAMMA cab which he had thought about selling for the right price. He also had an R-Type marquee made for the cab which looked super cool! We negotiated a bit and settled on a price for the complete cabinet. I hired a van through a friend and set off that weekend to pick it up! I also decided to buy an original Sega Shinobi arcade board from him which I also picked up.

It took me a whole day driving and I called in a few favours, but it was well worth it! I was pretty lucky really. I got it for a really good price. The arcade board itself goes for a lot of money, and since I got this one I’ve seen them go for substantially more so I got a fantastic deal. The Video Wizard cabinet is really well made too, and he’d just had the monitor serviced so the picture is really good.

RType1

ARG: You have been busy lately breaking the Twin Galaxies high-score record for R-Type (Congratulations!) – how does one go about doing this? What was your regime?
RR: I was able to get to stage 4 on one life, but I knew I needed to do much better. R-Type, like a lot of games, has very little random elements to it. The stages behave the same, the enemies appear in the same place on the stages every time. The things which change are their rate and speed of fire as the game reacts to how well you’re doing and responds with faster enemy bullets, which makes it more difficult the better you are playing. However, learning the enemy patterns is the key to this game. Knowing where to be on the screen to destroy the enemies quickly and maximise your points while avoiding obstacles and other enemies, is what I began to learn.

I started studying other gameplay videos on YouTube to get tips. During this, I realised I’d managed to learn quite a few of the techniques myself at different points in the game, but I learned quite a few more by watching these videos. I point press quite a bit on the earlier stages in order to maximise my score.

I realised that learning to play the later stages on the arcade hardware was very time consuming. I found that I could easily do the earlier stages, but I had to do them all over again each time in order to practice a few minutes of the later ones. This was slowing my progress significantly, so I turned to MAME. I installed MAME and the R-Type ROM’s and bought myself an arcade stick. I was then able to use the save state feature within MAME to play to stage 4, save the state and then play stage 5 over and over to learn the patterns. Once I’d mastered stage 5, I did the same with stage 6. I played it so many times, learning the best way to get through the stages while maximising my points. Stage 6 is a good example of this, since the yellow enemies on this stage are worth 1000 points each, so it’s worth trying to destroy as many as possible rather than simply avoiding them.

To answer the other part of your question, I practised for 3 to 4 hours per night several nights a week around my other commitments.

RType2

ARG: How long did it take to get to a point where you were happy with your score?
RR:
I got R-Type in January 2016, so I have been practising since then! However, I’ve only been seriously going at it for the last month or two. Once I started using MAME my score improved by leaps and bounds. I won’t go into the details of my point pressing (the video is on Twin Galaxies for those interested), but I died strategically at certain points to play certain parts of the game over and over until down to one life. I then continued to play through further stages on that remaining life. This meant that there was little room for error. I lost count of the times I played for 20 minutes or more on the arcade game, only to have to start over again. That was very frustrating!

Currently I am able to play the game to stage 7 on one life.

RType3

ARG:  What is your plan going forward for R-Type (an even high score)?
RR: My plan now is to learn stage 7 of the game as it is extremely difficult. After that, I will learn stage 8. I’m giving myself a little break as I don’t want to burn out or get annoyed. One of the main things I’ve realised about trying to achieve high scores on games is that if you have a few bad games, stop playing. Come back to it another day, don’t keep going as you’ll only get annoyed and frustrated. It’s hard to walk away sometimes, but you have to really be strict with yourself as it doesn’t do you any good to continue when that happens.

My next personal goal is to complete the game on one credit. After that I intend to do it with one life. The game loops back to stage one again after the first completion, and then it goes all the way to stage 8 again. Once the second loop is complete, the game finishes which means there is a natural ending and therefore point pressing will start to play a major part to maximising the score.

I will begin working on this soon, as I want to keep up with the momentum I have. My current record score is not that high. I’ve seen videos of people achieving much higher scores on R-Type, both on original hardware and with MAME. They have simply not submitted their score to Twin Galaxies as I have. It’s a nice milestone to achieve the record, but I realise I still have a long way to go to become a truly great R-Type player.

RType4

ARG: Are you eyeing any other Twin Galaxies high score records you want to break or is that a secret?
RR: No secret at all *smiles* I think R-Type is going to keep me busy for some time yet, but after that I may start to learn Shinobi. I have a score on Twin Galaxies already, but it’s very low. Since I submitted that score, it raised awareness of the game and a guy called Jonathan Town has set a much higher score, which is great. I feel happy that I got him involved actually. It’s what competitive gaming is all about in my opinion. What’s the point in being the only score on the board and not trying to improve? Jonathan has given me loads of tips so I’m sure I can improve my score on Shinobi, although I’m not confident I will ever be as good as him. He is quite amazing at it!

I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before someone else submits a higher score for R-Type. I’ve raised awareness of that game too, since the previous record was set in 1997 by Jason Wilson. He may well come back to reclaim his title, or maybe someone else will have a go. That’s why I need to seriously up my game so I can set an even higher score and remain on top!

As we leave Rich to rest his hands and fingers, we can’t help it think that this will not be the last time we see his name up in lights.

RType5

 

C64 Sideways SEUCK Competition 2015

SidewaysSEUCK_TitleAs September is traditionally known as Shmuptember, we thought we would let you budding C64 coders know about the latest Shoot’Em Up Construction Kit (SEUCK) competition, but this time, your shoot’em up game must be a horizontal (sideways) scroller to be eligible for entry. So, download the free Sideways Shoot’Em Up Construction Kit and get cracking, I mean, get coding! You never know, you could be a winner just like Ant Stiller (Abyssonaut) or Alf Yngve (Forgotten Forest)!

The best part about these competitions is that you, the gamer, can play the entered games (Ed: Woo hoo!), and then cast your vote on your favourite. We must admit, we are hooked on Alf Yngve’s Edge Of Time entry, which is the sequel to his highly acclaimed game, Double Or Nothing.

This competition is once again brought to you by the great Mr. Richard Bayliss of The New Dimension!

Competition Details
Competition: Sideways Scrolling SEUCK Compo
Submission dates: Now till 30th November 2015
Voting commences: 1st December till 30th December 2015
Prizes: To be announced/given in February 2016

 

Pastfinder: A Long Lost C64 Gem

Why has it taken me almost 30 years to discover and play Pastfinder? I mean, I love shoot’em ups, so this game should have been on my radar back in the 1980s. Anyway, it is never too late to enjoy a great game, and let me say from the outset, Pastfinder is a beauty.

What’s there not to like, you are thrown thousands of years into the future on a baron planet with high radiation, you have an awesomely powerful spacecraft (called a Leeper) that is able to walk the landscape (the articulating legs look great!) and fly high to blast enemies and also drop-off supplies to the bases that desperately need them.

Pastfinder is a classic vertical shmup with a twist (think of Zaxxon, but in a vertical attribution instead of isometric) – the clever gameplay of flying and walking the landscape to avoid obstacles, together with tight controls, makes this an absolute blast! Yep, that pun was fully intended! Play this now on your C64, you won’t regret it!

PastFinder_TITLE

pastfinder_screen1

pastfinder_screen2image source: Lemon64

 

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!