Ceremony of Innocence

mossy_11 on Monday, 18 October 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

ceremonyThe rise of the CD-ROM in the 1990s brought great excitement to artists and storytellers interested in the digital medium. At last they could explore the concept of multimedia -- sound, animation, text, and graphics could be put together in one coherent piece of artistry and shipped out to millions of people.

It worked in theory, but not so much in practice. Most multimedia CD-ROMs released commercially were awkward to use, uneven in their artistry, and downright boring to explore. Many tried to cross the line from “interactive multimedia” to “game” -- to mixed success.

But one in particular was always likely to be an exceptionally successful -- in quality if not sales numbers -- piece of interactive multimedia. It was Ceremony of Innocence, an adaptation of artist and author Nick Bantock's Griffin and Sabine trilogy.

News Round-up: September 3 - October 7

mossy_11 on Thursday, 07 October 2010. Posted in News

pd6fm_box_161x166pxParallels Desktop 6 for Mac is now available. The new version boasts enhanced performance, remote access via iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, easier setup, up to 80% faster 3D graphics performance, and Surround Sound 5.1 support, amongst a wealth of other features. Check out the official website for more information.


jpcsp_logoJava-based PSP emulator JPCSP has made considerable progress in recent months, with the latest release (0.6) offering a host of new features and major improvements. The developers boast compatibility with more than 70 games (commercial and homebrew). See the release notes for full details on the update, and the homepage for more information about the emulator. [Thanks dickmedd for the tip.]


DapplegreyQuickfire updates have been released for DOSBOX front-end Dapplegrey, which is now at version 2.16. Changes include more freedom to choose which DOS executable file to use when starting a game, in addition to a few related tweaks to the interface and behaviour.


mini_vmacAn alpha build has been released for Macintosh Plus emulator Mini vMac’s upcoming 3.2.1 update. Described by the developer as the “netbook edition,” the update promises more accurate timing in CPU emulation, while a new feature called “AutoSlow” allows users to conserve battery power by reducing the emulation speed to 1x when no input or output occurs for two seconds. See the Mini vMac website for more information.

More updates after the break.

Civilization 1 & 2

mossy_11 on Monday, 04 October 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

For much of my existence on this earth, I have been an unashamed Civilization addict, Sid Meier's historically-themed strategy masterpiece. The series has done more to cultivate my interests today than anything else, helping to determine my majors in school (history and computer science), my fascination with interactive systems, and my goal of a career in game design.

I was only four years old when the original Civilization came out in 1991, and I knew nothing of the game until a few years later, when my brother entered private school. He came home after school one day with Civilization installed on his laptop and showed it to me. I was hooked instantly -- before I’d even played it. The developers had abstracted an entire alternate history of Western civilization into this simple game that offered so much emergent complexity.

Civilization1BoxArt_originalCiv2boxart

Conker's Bad Fur Day

HDL on Monday, 27 September 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

Editor's Note: I remember seeing advertisements for this game on TV and thinking it looked absolutely hilarious in its reversal of "cute" cartoon characterizations. HDL gives you the low-down on just how deep and "mature" the humor ran in this uncharacteristically adult Nintendo 64 action-adventure/platform game. -mossy_11


Ever wonder what an obscene version of Looney Tunes would be like? If youʼve ever imagined vulgarities coming from characters like Bugs Bunny, you may have some idea of what this game has in store.

conker-coverfor-mature-audiences-only

Unlike most games with a cartoony approach, Conker's Bad Fur Day makes no effort to hide its brusque nature, even before you start playing. Not long after the game is turned on, protagonist Conker the Squirrel cuts the iconic Nintendo 64 logo straight down the middle with a chainsaw. Even the gameʼs menu select screen is actually a tavern, containing many of the crazy characters Conker will interact with in his story. This approach was partially responsible for the gameʼs less-than-stellar commercial success, on top of being released only months before the GameCube in 2001.

Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warship

Pixelcade on Monday, 20 September 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

Editor's Note: I've never heard of this game, but it looks interesting -- like a more complicated Lunar Lander with added story elements and better physics. Pixelcade gives you a run-down. - mossy_11


SolarjetmancoverWelcome readers back to the "games that you probably didn't know existed and have lots of gravity and physics involved in them" series. This week I bring to you Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warship. The game was developed by Zippo Games for Rare and released in the US by Tradewest, then in Europe by Nintendo. I'm not sure how that lineage goes but well there it is (as laid out by Wikipedia). I first encountered Solar Jetman at a yard sale in the early 90's and to my luck found a great game for a super low price. Upon bringing it home and powering up my NES I was hooked.

You control a small jet pod that is ejected from your main mothership. Should your jet pod be destroyed (1 hit unless your shields are running) you revert to a single lone space explorer. This does not end your game but makes you a very easy target. If you return to the mothership you'll be given another pod to continue the mission. The real challenge is getting the items you collect back to the mothership. With gravity being different you have to be creative on how to move them. Some will suck you right back to the surface while others will not even move an inch.

System 1.0: A Revolution Called Macintosh

mossy_11 on Thursday, 16 September 2010. Posted in Opinion

Mac OS X turns ten this week. That's ten years since the first public release of the jewel in the crown that signifies Apple's rise from the brink of death with a modern and "revolutionary" clean slate. But it wasn't the first time a piece of Apple software saved the company -- that honour goes to the original Macintosh operating system: System 1.0. Read on to learn how Apple changed its fortunes and revolutionised computing back when the terms GUI and mouse were foreign concepts.


The core of the Macintosh experience was never the attractive industrial design, the sense of superiority, or the use of a strange one-button mouse -- although those elements were vitally important. From the very beginning, even before the first Mac hit the market in 1984, right through to the latest iMac or Macbook models, the Macintosh was about providing the most accessible and intuitive interaction possible between humans and computers.

Computers should be easy to use, with user interfaces that Jack and Jill Smith who just walked in off the street can use comfortably with almost no instruction. Gestures, not typed commands; desktops, buttons, and icons -- not command lines, carriage returns, and terminals -- have clear analogies to things from everyday life that people without a degree in computer science can understand. This is at the heart of the Apple philosophy, as it has existed since that fateful trip to the Xerox labs in December 1979.

Shenmue Series

dickmedd on Monday, 13 September 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

Editor's Note: The Shenmue games have always struck me as emblematic of Sega's downfall. Full of outrageous ambition and short-sightedness, yet charming, beautiful, and magical. The video game industry lost something special the day the Dreamcast died, and it was more than just the conclusion to this epic story. Read this for a trip back to a time when Sega made games like no-one else, and we loved them for it. -mossy_11


 

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Prepare to step into another world. A world where shopkeepers and traders get up early to ply their trade, ladies step out of their front gate to sweep away the fallen leaves and gossip, young men kneel polishing their motorbikes, and old men go to the park to sit thoughtfully or practice Tai Chi. This is a world in which the sun rises and sets, skies aren't always clear, and, on a snowy day, you might witness the murder of your father at the hands of a mysterious man in long Chinese robes. You've just entered the fantastically vivid world of Yu Suzuki's Shenmue!

Pokemon

seanstar on Monday, 06 September 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

Editor's Note: You Gotta Catch 'em All is surely one of the most insidious marketing ploys ever devised against children. While the existence of groups that condemn Pokémon as satanic is laughable, the ridiculous popularity of the franchise amongst children is not. But of course there's something more to the craze than clever marketing -- the series is renowned for its remarkable depth. Seanstar offers here a simultaneously fun, irreverent, and jaded look back at the beginnings of this apparent demon-spawn that makes for a fantastic read, whatever your feelings about the franchise. -mossy_11


Pokémon, or "You Gotta Catch 'em All, so go beg mommy and daddy to buy you the latest and greatest version of the same exact game because it's really a different game, we swear!" is the ubiquitous Nintendo handheld cash-cow that debuted in 1996, long before the Game Boy was in color. Consequently, the original "Red" and "Blue" versions of the game (and the Japanese Red and Green, and eventual Yellow, versions) were primarily differentiated by the fact that the Red version circuit board was mounted in a red plastic case, the Blue version in blue, the Green version in green, and the Yellow version in leftover Donkey Kong Land shells. Or maybe brand new Yellow. The world will never know. All versions could be played in full variable-hue monochrome if you had a Super Game Boy, the primary advantage of this mode being to showcase the fact that most towns had been named vaguely after colors by changing the game to the closest SNES-palette representation of the color in question as soon as you entered.