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Red Parsley : SNES Driving / Racing Games #3 [[source]]


Uchuu Race: Astro Go! Go! (1994)
By: Meldac / Kaze Genre: Racing  Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Nintendo SNES
Also Available For: Nothing

I think it's safe to say by now that even occasional visitors to Red Parsley will be well aware of my appreciation of Nintendo's stonking F-Zero series. I'm therefore quite flabbergasted that the existence of this catchily-named game only just reached me this very week. The reason for my surprise, in case you hadn't already guessed, is that it's a game that has more than a little in common with the classic series, and in particular its SNES debut. It actually appears to have been directly based on Nintendo's game as far as its visual style is concerned but it doesn't take long to realise that it's quite a bit weirder than its source of inspiration too. Lord only knows what the back-story could be - the game is a Japanese exclusive (although a US version was planned) so I don't have the luxury of reading the instructions - but the first thing I thought of while exploring it was... F-Zero meets Fantasy Zone! That automatically sounds like the greatest thing ever, so let's hope for the best.

This first course has a few jumps but not much else...
There isn't any shooting involved but there are many bright colours and several peculiar characters including a choice of five to play through the game as, each with their own (very) unique hovercar-type vehicle... ummm, thing. Jet is a human male who pilots Blueone (a dolphin or shark or something), Baribroon is a skeletal creature who pilots Barivehicle (which looks much like its owner), Flyhigh is a purple creature who pilots Cooljam (apparently based on his head), Love is a human female who pilots Lunabee (a pink insect-like craft), and E.O is a green robot who pilots Gyrotype2 (which seems to be based on a scorpion). Each of these unusual craft is ranked by acceleration, braking, weight, top speed, and handling, and can be used in either a fairly standard Time Trial mode or the 'main' mode, the Astro GP, which itself offers two variations - Normal Race or Power Race (the latter just seems to be a more difficult version of the former). Both then offer the same choice of Wonder Cup, Ultra Cup, or Miracle Cup competitions.

These colourful squares are the starting lights...
Each of the tournaments consists of a series of five races, with the winner obviously being he who has amassed the best overall results. However, you need to finish in at least third place to even continue on to the next race. Failure to do this will cost you one of your lives and is in fact the only thing that will cost one. Indeed, all the craft are seemingly indestructible and if you fall off the side of the course you're always winched back on. Your chances of winning will then be severely diminished but you'll never lose a life. Once a lap you're awarded with a super-boost or a shield but aside from that it's simply a case of steering around the unusual and highly challenging courses. Therein, however, lie a few problems. The controls baffled me initially but I quickly realised that, unlike F-Zero and indeed most other racing games, pressing left and right doesn't just steer a little bit in the respective direction - here it actually rotates your craft indefinitely in the given direction.

Parts of this course don't have any sides. Which is fun...
This basically means you could go round and round in circles, almost on the spot, if you so desired, and it does take a bit of getting used to. None of the craft drift or skid around like those in F-Zero either, but they're not too bad to race with after a while. No, the biggest problems are with the design of the courses themselves and the way they are presented. As you may have noticed from the screen-shots, the 'camera' view is rather restrictive as it points down at the circuit much more than with most similar games, cutting off the horizon in the process. This was presumably done for technical reasons, perhaps to avoid the need for a long draw-distance, but it also means you can't see very far ahead. A further problem with the camera is that it doesn't turn left of right with your craft or create the illusion of doing so by rotating the course around your craft. This means that when you turn a 90° corner you're moving from left to right or vice versa, and if you end up taking a 180° corner you'll be racing toward the camera!

Yep, we're racing from left to right here...
This might sound like good exciting racing fun but it's actually pretty ridiculous most of the time. Much like with F-Zero, there are several courses based in a handful of themed locations (with names like Sweetcat Lake, Pinball Colony, Air Station, and Icebaby Planet) and they have familiar features like jumps, slow-down patches, and speed boosters, and at first all seems well. The very first course, for example, is a short and simple affair with just a few slow-down areas and a section which sees you hopping across several small islands. It's nothing too special but it looked like a promising start for the game, but subsequent efforts quickly became much less enjoyable. The sharp turns get more and more common and some of them have boost plates immediately after them meaning you could be sent hurtling sideways or even towards the camera at high-speed with no way to know what was coming, and some abruptly encountered mysteries could include another sharp turn or a section without barriers meaning a time-consuming plunge into nothingness.

Jumping across the little islands of Sweetcat Lake...
Another problem that makes this even worse is making contact with barriers or any of the other racers. More often than not, if you do this at a fairly slow pace you'll stop dead with your craft facing in the wrong direction. No major dilemma here - just turn it around and get going again, albeit probably in last place. However, doing so at high speed will see you bounce off the obstruction at an equally high speed in the wrong direction which could mean either a period of intensive bouncing back and forth or simply travelling the wrong way. In either case, wresting back control of your craft isn't easy and any chances of winning a race will have most likely disappeared too. I would therefore say that it's largely pointless using a manual boost or passing over the boost plates as well, as the resultant speed increase will usually see you ricocheting all over the place or hitting an unavoidable obstruction, and may even leave you further back than when you started, but if you do avoid using them you won't have too much chance of winning the race either.

This course is ridiculous - I actually got lost!
Even without all this stuff, though, this still isn't an especially easy game as there doesn't seem to be a great deal of consistency as far as the other racers are concerned. You could be zooming along thinking you're doing quite well and then suddenly one of two of them will inexplicably zip past you! It can also be really difficult to beat the fastest craft (the Barivehicle) which pretty much means you'll need to race with it which is a pain in the arse (it has hideous steering and acceleration). I think all you can do here really is hope for the best! I suppose it's possible that I'm taking the game a little bit too seriously - it's quite clear from the graphics and general weirdness that it's intended as a bit of light-hearted fun and, aside from the foreshortened viewpoint and a rather poor sense of speed (except when you're being pinged around like a pinball of course), it is quite a nice-looking game too, in a pixelly Mode 7 kind of way. It's certainly colourful, garishly so at times, and there's a decent amount of detail on the circuits, and the music is mostly quite nice too.

Yep, here I'm bouncing back and forth at almost 700kph...
Overall though, this has been a big let-down for me. Aside from some initial confusion over the controls, first impressions were great. I like weird, cute games and I definitely like F-Zero, so I was over the moon to have discovered what appeared to be a combination of both, but my excitement was soon replaced with disappointment and anger. Now, after having spent a fair amount of time with it, I'm sorry to say it's probably the most annoying racing game I've ever played. Quite a few times now I've been cruising along in first place, taking the corners gracefully and wondering if I've maybe been too harsh, but then a few minutes later I'm tearing my hair out once again! There's not even a two-player mode - at least then both players would be equally disadvantaged. I was really hoping this would be another hidden gem I'd discovered, perhaps even one of my new favourite SNES games, but sadly that's far from the case. There are numerous problems - each on its own would be annoying but together they ruin what could've been a great game. It would've still been a blatant F-Zero rip-off, sure, but it also would've been a wonderfully enjoyable racer too. Oh well...

RKS Score: 5/10
 

Retro Treasures : Asteroids (Atari 2600) [[source]]


Sporting one of the most evocative pieces of art to ever appear on a cartridge, the Atari 2600 version of Asteroids also happens to be a great game, an imaginative port of the classic arcade and a definitive 1981 offering you can own for cheap. A mere $3.95 will get you this excellently preserved Asteroids (2600) cartridge complete with the game's manual. Seller ships worldwide.

Retro Treasures : Commodore Amiga 500 [[source]]


If you don't mind taking small risks, then this untested Amiga 500 eBay auction might just be the bargain you were looking for. The seller wouldn't apparently know where to start with the micro and thus hasn't attempted testing it, but chances are this is a fully working machine. What's more, it comes with an extra disk drive, two mice, power supply, all sort of cables, some magazines, a few manuals and a ton of software on disks.
Seller ships worldwide. 

Australian Retro Gamer : My Decade TV: 70s, 80s, 90s! [[source]]


Lock up your cat, put the kids to bed and then settle in for some nostalgic TV fun! MyDecadeTV honours the pop culture memories of bygone decades – the 70s, 80s and 90s in particular. Basically, each decade has a TV channel (site) to simulate the vintage experience of channel-surfing on a TV from a particular […]

Commodore is awesome : SD-Card Tape Adapter [[source]]


C64_Tap_CurcuitTony is developing a new TAP file player device. With this device it will possible to read your TAP files from an SD card into your Commodore 64. The device will be very small and you can select your TAPs via a special menu on your C64. The cost will be around 30 USD.

Website: http://www.lemon64.com

Commodore is awesome : Me and My Shadow – AmigaOS 4 [[source]]


Me_and_my_shadow_AmigaMe and My Shadow is a puzzle/platform game where you must try to reach the exit by solving puzzles. Spikes, moving blocks, fragile blocks and much more stand between you and the exit. The game has more than 40 levels, 18 different block types and a built-in level editor. The game is available for AmigaOS4, Amiga68k, Linux and Windows.

Website: http://www.os4depot.net

Commodore is awesome : WinUAE 2.8.2 beta 13 [[source]]


- Fixed vhd hardfiles. (b12)
– Emulated strange OCS/ECS feature similar to “SWIV scoreboard” feature (plane color > 16 becomes 16 when PF2PRI is set to invalid value). It gets more interesting if mode is dual playfield and PF2P2 is invalid: odd planes become transparent and it still hides even planes behind it if PF2PRI is set! (Running Man / Scoopex)
– A2065 buffer ram is now directly accessible, if someone wants to do some weird stuff with it (xlate and check memory functions supported)
– ROM scanner result window redesigned, all expansions that need rom images added.
– Fixed CHD CD crash when sector size conversion was required.

Download: winuae_2900b13.zip
Previous Beta: winuae_2900b12.zip, Info
Previous Beta: winuae_2900b11.zip, Info
Source: http://www.winuae.net

Retro Treasures : Philips Videopac G7200 [[source]]


The resemblance to a home micro may be striking, but the rare Philips Videopac G7200 was never a computer. It is a Videopac G7000 (the European version of the Odyssey 2) with a built-in 9" black and white monitor; hence a console. And its absolutely lovely.
To own a tested and working one, you could try bidding on this Videopac G7200 eBay auction. The console comes with 13 boxed, complete games and 4 joysticks. Oh, and a musical keyboard too! Seller ships worldwide.

Red Parsley : Indie Nuggets #3 [[source]]


The Assault of Space Mutants from Arctic Rainforests (2013)
By: Jani Nykänen Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: PC First Day Score: 556,950
Also Available For: Nothing

I'm sure by now many of you have heard about those game-making contests that some websites hold. They have become very popular in recent years and one example I stumbled upon not too long ago is called NESJam. The rules were simple: games must be made by just one person from start to finish within a week and they must be made in the style of an NES game (resolution, colour pallette, etc). One of the most eye-catching entries I saw, probably at least in part because of its amusing name, is this one which was made by a talented chap called Jani Nykänen.

It's a predicably simple game then, a single-screen shooter no less, which casts you as 'Sir Bernald Blackbourne' whose job it is to rid Earth of an army of scary space monsters led by the 'evil lord of evil evilness'. He does this by using a spiffy jet-pack as well as two attack options - bullets, which are 'thrown' in an arcing motion, and bombs, which are dropped directly downwards. There are five stages altogether, the first four of which feature a seemingly infinite number of enemies before a boss battle while the last consists of an epic confrontation with the final boss.

Sir Bernald starts each stage with five hit points and is affected by gravity so continual thrusting (giggity) is required to keep him airborne and dodge/shoot enemies, but both weapons are unlimited and you also get an upgrade after each stage (eg, double shot or bombs), and there's also a score multiplier. And that's about it! It's an impressive game considering the short development time though, of course. There's not much sound (just a couple of effects) but the floaty, bouncy sprites and bright colours are particularly appealing (although they're not really the 'usual' colours associated with the NES) and the stages can get quite manic towards the end, with several types of enemy joining in the assault simultaneously before the larger boss arrives (the final boss is almost screen-sized!). It could do with a little tarting up in some areas (and apparently more stages and/or features will be added at some point) but this splendidly-named game is good fun, pretty addictive, and ideal for the odd five-minute high-score attempt. Thanks, Mr. Nykänen, for a memorable freebie!

RKS Score: 7/10
 

nIGHTFALL : Princess C64SD v3.0 by Manosoft [[source]]


Hi all, like one year ago Manosoft amazes us again, this time he did a great job of merging the ITS TAP Player module with the C64SD and from this merger comes the Princess, an interface with both previously released interfaces.The Princess interface is elegant as only Manosoft can do, the box color has changed and [...]

Commodore is awesome : WHDLoad Updates [[source]]


WHDLoadWHDLoad offers a way to play Amiga diskette games from your hard disk. The following installers have been added until 08-19-2014. Website: http://www.whdload.de

Amiga Gamer : The Ultimate Guide to Amiga PD Games - Physical Book Coming Soon! [[source]]


Published in digital form to Amazon, and on the receiving end of some glowing feedback since it was released back in April, "The Ultimate Guide to Amiga PD Games" has been selling steadily over the past three or four months.

During this time a number of people have asked whether a physical release is in the pipeline. Well, it looks like it is. Here's Christian;
"I have submitted the text file to Amazon's Create Space (on demand printing service) so I should be receiving a physical book version to do a final proof read - then it should be available for purchase. In terms of the price - it is currently £20.99 - I wanted to try to keep it under £20 but I think it is due to the number of pictures and the size of the pictures - Also the book is large at around A4 rather than A5 size - I have also added an honorable mentions section following on from some feedback on games that readers thought should be included - this may go if it has a significant impact on reducing the price.Will provide more updates over the coming weeks - thanks again to everyone who has bought a copy of the e-book version - I have uploaded a newer edition (1.1) which should be available as a free update and removes some known errors. Once this project is complete I hope to get back to working on some PD games for the Amiga - work commitments permitting"Update! Since posting the above, things have moved on somewhat. Here's Christian with a short update;
"Proof Copy of physical book version of our "Ultimate Guide to AmigaPD games" has been ordered and should arrive later this week. Fingers crossed there are not too many changes to make"I will, of course, post once the book goes on sale or can be pre-ordered. In the meantime you can keep up-to-date with the book developments by following AmigaPD on Facebook or Twitter.