Wednesday, 18 January 2017
Tuesday, 10 January 2017
Exhibit A... was what we thought was the whole enchilada, opened on Christmas morning as part of the "stocking" phrase of the holiday. Later, we would progress to Christmas dinner, which (it turns out) entailed some heavy-duty gift-receiving itself. But I get ahead of myself. As you can see, the preliminary haul was no slouch:
Then there are the considerably more aged cartridge-based games for the Atari 2600 and Colecovision -- some early hits from big-name developers, but hang on a sec, can we zoom in there a little?
Well, if you're going to have six copies of something, you could do worse than the killer app that was the Colecovision's Donkey Kong. (NB, only 3 copies for that machine, the other 3 for the VCS.) Moving right along... take a good, hard look at the fabric pattern on that stocking! Then we have a couple of baggies of Super Mario candy (gosh, I hope it isn't mushroom flavoured), light-up Super Mario bonus keychains (a question-box and a 1UP mushroom), a -- look closely! -- Super Mario Christmas ornament painted on a blown eggshell!, a Pac-Man ghost candy tin, Pac-Man drinking tumblers, and some kooky Playmobil pirate game for the Nintendo DS. Phew! I know, it's not a huge haul, but it's respectable enough, right? I know, I know -- "When I grew up, I put away childish things", yadda yadda.A photo posted by Rowan Lipkovits (@nicheinterests) on
Later that day, I uncovered the main attraction... did someone say cartridge-based games? My mother-in-law must have encountered a dealer liquidating their stock at a flea market. I didn't count, probably over a hundred Atari 2600 carts -- naturally, including a ton of duplicates, both in regards to what I already had and even internally (and heh, there's the seventh Donkey Kong of the day!) plus some Xonox two-headers and non-standard carts made by more niche third-parties than Activision and Imagic, but more interesting to me were other cartridges for systems I didn't own or had never even interacted with -- it's always exciting to someone as overexposed and blase about old video games as I am to go "hello, what's THIS?" to something never before seen: a few Atari 7800 carts, a couple of cartridges for the Atari 8-bit computers, a bunch of Texas Instruments TI-84 cartridges (hello, commercial release of Hunt the Wumpus! I had a chance to pick up a working machine in a Value Village basement when I was destitute and was crushed to find hours later -- and a few dollars richer -- that someone else had snapped it up), a few cartridges for the TRS-80 CoCo -- my first home computer, one of these games (Castle Guard, if memory suggests correctly a Pong clone) very likely part of my very first exposure to home video gaming.
My eldest has been going nuts trying to get me to play the Pac-Man game (I don't know that a WiiU will ever be in the cards, but who knows if the relatively small supply of them will flood the market once the Switch is released) but failing that, we enjoyed an excellent time over the holidays playing through all five of the Freddi Fish adventure games by Humongous Entertainment. I enjoyed them so much, I even bought them on Steam! (And I've got to say, they've held up quite a bit better than Cyan's children's games. But Freddi is the only one of the pack with a girl as the hero.)
So there we go, from a respectable if somewhat underwhelming (this family does Christmas in a big way, we're trying to throttle it down a little bit but apparently not yet!) haul in the morning to a truly overwhelming cavalcade of cartridges by sundown, making my Atari 2600 collection... truly formidable! (And if I had all the parts needed to get them working, my Colecovision and Intellivision would be holding their own also!) Who knows what my birthday in April will bring? (Well, the next installment of my twice-annual vintage gaming Big Pixel parties, of course... and chances are, we'll be giving away duplicate VCS cartridges at the door. Stay tuned!)
Sunday, 8 January 2017
My relationship to this title goes back over 20 years: indeed, 31 years ago, Atari released Gauntlet II into the arcades, a refinement of the previous year's Gauntlet, and I remember playing it (a couple of years down the line) at Atari founder Nolan Bushnell's subsequent venture, Chuck E. Cheese. But in 1989, the arcade title was ported for home play under MS-DOS by PC users, and that's where this story really gets started. A few more years along and a copy had wound its way down to my custody, a neat specimen with mind-blowing digitized PC speaker sound and a kind of same-machine simultaneous multiplayer, with memory suggesting three keyboard inputs and the 4th player controlled by joystick. It was fun and continue credits were not so necessarily constrained by material conditions as at the arcade, but some hacker out there thought that there was still room for improvement.
Back when I was getting started (woah!) a bit over a decade ago documenting games at Mobygames, I thought that there was the correct place to catalogue and demonstrate the precise way in which this game's cake was... iced, but despite a few different approaches, the volunteer approvers there held firm to their commitment that the site's mission was to document games in the state in which they were initially sold on store shelves, not ways in which they were subsequently altered by immature miscreants and fan translators. So the only outlet left available to me was to make a note in the game's trivia -- a note I was delighted eventually trickled down and worked its way into another game blog I follow when Gauntlet 2's turn came up in their queue. But I did hold on to the screenshots I originally attempted to use to demonstrate the hexedited hack's distinguishing points, and now at last I'm going to share them for ... posterity.
the original versions of these screens) but ... somewhat altered. I can't quite put my finger on it. Is it the wizard's robe? Perhaps the elf's goatee? No, wait... what's that the valkyrie is holding in her hand? Hang on a minute, the logo isn't quite right, that doesn't say "Gauntlet" anymore, it says... what the hell is a "Cuntlet"? (Here's a clue: if you try to research this game online, its name would traditionally invoke quite a great deal of pornography. Hilariously, since the opening of the Internet Archive's arcade (and the penetrating reports by bloggers into its seamy underbelly), the edited game has been reclaiming its rightful place at the head of the search returns. And speaking of head...
the last time you'd seen this screen. Also the corporate attribution has been tweaked slightly, and ... gosh, that's a hell of a company logo! Do you think you can buy it on a mug or t-shirt?
as they always did (what's a puerile equivalent to a mirror? oh, forget it!) and others are quite a bit more... seemingly derived from a very old copy of the alt.sex FAQ. Ice cubes? Vitamin E?
their relatively humbly initial forms into a series of riffs on male genitalia -- a homophobic tip of the hat to the most horrible things the presumably cishet hackers could imagine overrunning them in waves emerging from a genitalia-generator? (The presence of the breast is somewhat incongruous, and of course the misspelled "buthole" is equal-opportunity, but elsewise the roster looks like it might have emerged from a lesbian's worst nightmare.) The most interesting transformation here is the game's initial "it", a magical player-transferrable status (as you would when playing "tag") that acts as a monster magnet, rebranded as AIDS. In light of that chilling new context, reducing all the other monsters to enormous phalli seems rather tame by comparison.
the game we all know and love, but I gotta tell you, even in a game I'd never endorse eating food sitting on the floor so nearby to a pool of semen. (Speaking of which, when characters die in this game, they are reduced to a mere wet spot on the mattress. It's not much of a theme, so you've got to work it!)
Same but different!) I'm not prepared to offer it up for download (anymore, I learned my lesson circa 1995 after being locked out of a BBS I co-administered by uploading an archive of the game for play and proclaiming it, in jest, to be Nitty's [the SysOp's] favorite game!") but if this game interests you (for even a minute, to paraphrase the late Leonard Cohen, you are lost) you can play it through your web browser courtesy of the Internet Archive. And who knows, if this post sees enough interest, maybe when the right occasion rolls around (Valentine's Day? Which is the holiday of orgiastic frenzy? May Day? A cursory Googling suggests that for ancient Rome, it was ... all of them!) I might profile the hard-to-believe French phallic Bomberman clone Bomb'X. (But until then, my entry on it over at Mobygames, allowed due to not being a hack of another game, is reasonably comprehensive.)
Friday, 25 November 2016
But I get ahead of myself. The name you're used to seeing here, especially when covering recent developments in textmode artwork, is that of Blocktronics, the ANSI art mega-group. They had a Hallowe'en release last month and it did not disappoint! By which I mean, it contained not just ANSI art, but some ANSI art on video game themes. Here, for instance, is a 3D Space Invader by Enzo:Mistigris also enjoyed a Hallowe'en artpack release, MIST1016. It featured no fewer than two pieces of spooky seasonal art inspired by Konami's vampire-slaying series Castlevania -- the first an ANSI art / HD photography mash-up experiment by Whazzit (who released many further similar pieces, fascinating despite being sans video game references, in the above Blocktronics pack). Here in a real-world church, an ANSI art Simon Belmont confronts an ANSI art Dracula, while ANSI art bats perch overhead. Basically, it's amazing. which you can play here. But there were other intriguing goodies contained therein... consider the following, from the prolific desk of Starstew: a turtle playing Yar's Revenge on an Atari 2600: making a tiny textmode re-implementation of earlier this year! the Creaking Planks. Players just saw these things as little icon thumbnails on an already-small mobile screen, but I'd been to their offices and seen the full-sized originals hanging in frames and knew that the players were missing out not ever to see Elin Jonsson's artwork at a reasonable size... or, as is the case, quite a bit larger than you'd ever want to see on your computer monitor! The first is "Forlorn", and the second "Paria":