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.

Interview: John Calhoun on the Origins of Glider (Part 2)

mossy_11 on Tuesday, 07 December 2010. Posted in Mac Classics Reborn

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John Calhoun's Glider games hold a special place in the history of Mac gaming, acting almost as an icon of the platform through much of the 1990s. They spawned a hugely dedicated fan base, which produced a ridiculous amount of original content both for and about Glider -- especially Glider 4 and Glider PRO, the later versions.

I caught up with Calhoun over email recently, and quizzed him on the origins and development of the series. This is the second (and final) part of that interview. Read on to discover how Glider grew from a shareware to commercial product, what inspired the new features of Glider 4 and Glider PRO, how the game's community shaped its development, what Calhoun thinks of the Mac indie scene, and more.

You can catch the first part of the interview here. And also be sure to check out Dreaming of a Thousand-Room House: The History and Making of Glider, which provides context and a narrative for this interview.

News Round-up: November 10 - December 5

mossy_11 on Sunday, 05 December 2010. Posted in News

apple-logoIn Apple and Mac gaming news, iOS 4.2 was released two weeks ago, bringing “multi-tasking” functionality to the iPad; a Steam hardware survey suggests that most Mac gamers are using laptops; Feral Interactive has released a Mac port of popular action-RPG Borderlands; Aspyr’s Mac port of Civilization V has landed; Telltale has released a poker game, Poker Night at the Inventory, with Max (from Sam & Max), Strong Bad, The Heavy (from Team Fortress 2), and Tycho Brahe (from Penny Arcade) as the opponents; id Software’s Rage has hit the current generation of iOS devices; and the Grand Theft Auto 3 trilogy has finally made its way to OS X.


stellaAtari 2600 VCS emulator Stella received a big update last month. Version 3.3 lists around twenty bug fixes, improvements, and additions to graphics display, application performance, debugging, and more. See the official Stella news page for release notes and the main site for the latest download link.


MacifomCycle-exact and Cocoa-native NES emulator Macifom has been updated to version 0.15. This new version adds support for games that use the MMC3 mapper on TxROM boards and games that were designed for SUROM boards, in addition to providing various other improvements. See the official site for full details.

More updates after the break.

The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle

mossy_11 on Tuesday, 30 November 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

game-boy-original-bugs-bunny-box-frontBugs_Bunny_Crazy_Castle_splash

Honey Bunny is being held prisoner in a castle and only Bugs can save her, but you’d have to read the manual to know that. I had no manual back when I played The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle on my Game Boy, so I thought maybe it had some kind of escape theme. Years later I discovered the real story, but that didn’t really matter. Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle is an action-puzzle game, and a fun one at that.

I was obsessed with completing this game as a kid, spending hours trying to master it and using dozens of sheets of paper to write down my passwords (yep, no save slots). The music and sounds are now permanently imprinted on my memory, and always make me feel like dancing. It is a game with personality, mixing a distinctly Japanese flavour with the traditional Looney Tunes humour and animation.