News Roundup: February 7 - March 4

Niemann on Friday, 04 March 2011. Posted in News

apple-logoApple has released new MacBook Pros, with the new Sandy Bridge processors and Thunderbolt connectivity. Early reports indicate that they are much faster than the previous generation machines -- to the point where the new baseline 13" model matches or betters the old 17" model on many speed and performance tests.


overview_missioncontrol20110127It has been revealed that Mac OS X Lion will drop Rosetta, a software abstraction layer which provides support for PowerPC binaries on Intel machines. This is an interesting move that some are labelling premature, as, on the one hand, it forces developers to get their code up to modern standards, but, on the other, it breaks compatibility with some professional software still actively in use. Some of the other features slated for Lion are looking promising, though.


iPad2At a media event on Wednesday, Apple announced a second-generation iPad, complete with a processor upgrade (the iPad 2 sports a 1GHz dual-core A5 processor), front- and rear-facing cameras, Smart Covers, and an option to get it in white colour. The new iPad models will be available in the US from March 11, and in other countries over the following weeks. In the meantime, you can pick up the first-generation iPad at a discount.


Also announced at the event was iOS 4.3, which features some useful enhancements to AirPlay, allows iTunes Home Sharing, improves performance in Safari, and offers the long-demanded iPad side-switch preference (rotation lock or mute). It will be available from March 11, and is compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 GSM, 3rd-gen iPod Touch, 4th-gen iPod Touch, iPad, and iPad 2 (I guess that means iPhone 3 and 2nd-gen iPod Touch owners should upgrade now).


We've had a quiet month in Mac emulation news, but there were notable updates to VICE, Dapplegrey, and gbpablog, amongst others. Hit the jump for details on these and other minor emulator updates, as well as a couple of Mac gaming tidbits.

Final Fantasy I

Pixelcade on Saturday, 26 February 2011. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

Editor's Note: I'm sure everyone here is familiar with this game -- by name and reputation if nothing else. It kicked off a franchise that's still going strong today, with sequels, spin-offs, collectibles, films, concerts, and many other products all being released under the Final Fantasy brand. Pixelcade shares his memories of the game that started it all. -mossy_11


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The Final Fantasy…or was it? Hello fellow gamers! This RGotW is brought to you by the year 1987 and the system Nintendo, sponsored in part by the company Square. With a helpful grant from MacScene and Pixelcade. Rather than my usual choice of some obscure game or movie or random event no one has heard of, this week I am doing a mainstream game.

So, 1987: Where were you what were you doing? US President Ronald Reagan was undergoing prostate surgery, La Bamba moved everyone's hips in dance clubs world wide, and PBS was hacked in Chicago by a man wearing a Max Headroom mask, babbling about who knows what -- it sure wasn't New Coke. Also at this time a video game that would go on to shape every single RPG to date in one way or another was developed by a little company going out of business -- Square.

Shufflepuck Café

mossy_11 on Wednesday, 09 February 2011. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

As far as strange bars go, you'll be hard-pressed to find something weirder than Shufflepuck Café. Staffed by a robot, and replete with several dysfunctional regulars, its main attraction is an air hockey table. This standoffish group, composed of nine individuals (including the robot waiter), has just one interest: destroying you in a game of virtual air hockey.

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News Roundup: January 5 - February 6

mossy_11 on Sunday, 06 February 2011. Posted in News

appStoreThe Mac App Store launched in early January, pulling an impressive one million app downloads in the first 24 hours of operation. The initial lineup of 1000 apps has expanded considerably over the past few weeks. For gamers and emulation enthusiasts, the impact of the store is still unclear. It is certainly good for the exposure of games on OS X, but could potentially discourage people from looking elsewhere for software that doesn't meet Apple's stringent requirements. The only emulator that seems to have made it past Apple so far is MacWise (a terminal emulator).


LugaruHDApple's stringent approval policies have come under fire recently, following the listing of an unauthorised clone of Wolfire's Lugaru HD game which severely undercut the price of the original. The developers of this unauthorised version claim to be within the rights of the GPL2 licence under which the source was released back in May, while Wolfire insists that the assets -- graphics, sound, other artwork -- are protected and may not be redistributed. At the time of writing both versions remain on the Mac App Store. Also see the Kotaku post for a more detailed run-down of the issue.


OpenEmulatorA new(-ish) emulator called OpenEmulator -- not to be confused with Open Emu -- aims to be "an accurate, portable emulator of legacy computer systems." Development efforts are currently focused on implementing a Mac OS X interface and emulating the Apple I and MOS KIM-1 computers, although there is also functional Apple II support. The emulator notably uses a software components framework, which allows the simple addition of expansion devices and peripherals (including virtual monitors). See the official website for more information.


MS-DOS emulator Boxer approaches nearer to its official 1.0 release, reaching 1.0rc1 a few days ago. The 1.0 release promises to be a complete overhaul, with more intuitive game installs, a new interface, support for cover art, better stability and performance, and "much, much more." See the official website for full details and a download link.

More emulator updates after the break.

Sinistar

Pixelcade on Tuesday, 25 January 2011. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

Editor's Note: After a brief hiatus, the RGotW community feature returns. I'm too young to have played this game -- or to have even seen it at an arcade -- but it seems that Sinistar lives up to its name. I believe it is also historically significant, as an influence on many later space shooters, so take note if you're into video-game history. -mossy_11


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RUN RUN RUN! Greetings classic gamers! It's time for yet another instalment of Pixelcade's "games you may have not heard about" segment. This time, we are going to take a look at Sinistar by Williams.

Let me get the technical details out of the way first. Year: 1982; cabinet type: Space Shooter Vertical Cabinet or Environmental; players: 2, but only one at a time; input: two buttons, one joystick; MONO Sound (yes kids, I said MONO -- as in one channel of audio). So with those technical details gone done lets see what's going on here.

1982: I was crying my eyes out as that little lovable alien E.T. couldn't get a calling card to phone home. Ozzy found love and married his manager Sharon. And I was busy playing my Colecovision and still picking my nose. On trips to the local arcade one could hear dozens of games in attract mode, begging you to approach and put in that lovely silver quarter.

What the Mac App Store Means for Mac Gaming

mossy_11 on Friday, 07 January 2011. Posted in Opinion

The past twelve months in the world of Mac gaming have been interesting, to say the least, with the arrival of Steam for Mac accompanied by several high-profile releases and greatly increased coverage from the press (somewhat over-enthusiastically, in some cases). All this attention has left some pinning their hopes to the new Mac App Store as the final piece in the puzzle of Mac gaming’s rise to popularity.

Are they justified in their celebration of what is really just another distribution platform? Can the fact that Apple is involved, and, more importantly, that it is built into the Mac operating system, be decisive in proving the Mac once and for all as a viable gaming platform? What does the Mac App Store actually mean for Mac gaming? Let’s take a look.

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News Round-up: December 6 - January 4

mossy_11 on Tuesday, 04 January 2011. Posted in News

apple-logoHighlights in Apple news this past month include the announcement that the Mac App Store will open on January 6 and the passing of a new milestone in market capitalisation. Apple’s market cap now stands at over $300 billion, which is still some $70 billion behind Exxon Mobil -- the largest US company. This marks a great year in stock for the company, which passed $200 billion back in March and rose to become the second biggest US company in May (leapfrogging Microsoft).


virtualboxOpen-source x86 and AMD64/Intel64 virtualisation tool VirtualBox received a major update shortly before Christmas. Version 4.0 provides a major reworking of the GUI, adds support for new virtual hardware, removes the 1.5/2 GB guest RAM limitation on 32-bit hosts, and more. See the changelog for a full run-down and the official site for a download.


boxerIn news we missed last month, MS-DOS emulator Boxer has entered public beta for version 1.0. New builds were released throughout December, with the biggest changes being that games can be imported “painlessly” from CDs or folders, there is a dedicated games folder automatically created, and the program launches with a welcome panel. Check out the official Boxer website for more details.


MAME and SDLMAME were updated three times over the past month. The latest version (0.141) adds support for the games Heavy Unit, Poizone, Silver Game, and Jack Potten’s Poker, in addition to providing a long list of improvements and bug fixes. Check out the MAME website for full details, and grab the latest SDLMAME build from here.

More updates after the break.

The Legacy of Tron (updated)

Pixelcade on Thursday, 16 December 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

Editor's Note: I wasn't alive when Tron came out, but Pixelcade's youth was touched by both the original film and the many games it spawned. Check out this detailed run-down of the franchise, which is fused as always with a personal history. -mossy_11


1982 -- Robotron 2084 was driving people crazy fighting the hordes of robots bent on our destruction, Men at Work were asking “Who Can It Be Now,” and a young programmer/hacker named Kevin Flnn (Jeff Bridges) decided to hack into ENCOM. This would be the start of a great adventure into 3D graphics in film and a franchise that has a huge niche market around the world.

The movie Tron started as an animated feature, but cooler heads prevailed and Lisberger Studios pushed for live action and 3D technology well ahead of its time. It was all about sucking the player into the game and virtual world -- something today's viewing audience takes for granted. On July 9, 1982 Tron earned over $33 million -- in the U.S. alone -- and spawned what we are starting to see come back full circle this December 16th.