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Dimension Drive: A Blast With A Twist [Australian Retro Gamer] [[source]]


Let’s get one thing straight, we are lucky to have Dimension Drive! Why lucky you may ask? Well, it goes something like this – 2Awesome Studio made up of two Dutch ex-space engineering indiedev decide to go the Kickstarter route to raise funds to produce Dimension Drive. The Kickstarter ends up being wildly successful and […]

Hunter - Action/Adventure classic that's well worth playing! [Indie Retro News] [[source]]


Let's go back in time, right back to 1991 when Activsion released 'Hunter' for the Amiga and Atari ST. An action-adventure game that by today's view point would be classed as a Battlefield 4, Grand Theft Auto and Far Cry mix. Expansive, open worlds, a military theme, and the focus on small squads of soldiers or lone heroes. A high grade 3D game with sandbox-type game play, developed by Paul

Silver Valley - Multi-genre game released for the Sega Master System [Indie Retro News] [[source]]


If you have a Sega Master System or running an emulator, then you might be interested to know a developer by the name of Enrique Ruiz has released the first version of a multi-genre game for the SMS called  ' Silver Valley '. A game which has been in development for some months now, looks to be a mash of other games such as Castlevania or Wonderboy and features not just platforming but also

Steam / GOG Downloads #4 [Red Parsley] [[source]]


Brilliant Bob (2015)
By: Zonitron Productions Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: PC

A great thing about Steam is that it's so easy to discover obscure indie games that you might never otherwise encounter while looking through its many pages, and that's exactly what happened here. Brilliant Bob caught my eye, most likely due to its lush green locales, and it was cheap too, so I thought I'd give it a go! The greenery I had spotted is actually the happy land of Sekotwana where Bob and his kin live. Life there is apparently great, but only until the evil, or perhaps more accurately, the unhappy Dr Magazi drops by to steal all of Sekotwana's happiness. Bob and his family were resilient and refused to give up their happiness but his parents got themselves kidnapped leaving Bob to save them, and indeed the save the day all around from the ghastly Dr Magazi.

Strangely, this appears to take the form of a 3D platform game where the object is apparently to simply steer Bob toward the exit of each stage. These are spread across three areas - Forest, Castle, and Dr Magazi - and most consist of a series of floating platforms which come in various sizes. Many are stationary but some move about, others are angled, and there can often be more than one way to reach the exit which is a glowy portal/teleporter of some sort. There are hazards and obstacles here and there which includes boxes that Bob can pick up and reposition to more easily reach certain areas or platforms, but there are of course many more dangerous examples too, including enemies which appear to be terrifying slime creatures of some sort.

These pesky things zero in on Bob as soon as he's within range and rob him of precious health points. They can be killed but I'm not entirely sure how many ways there are to do this. Throwing red boxes with biohazard markings definitely does the trick, and you can also fool them into falling off the edge of platforms, but that of course means getting close enough to risk falling off yourself, and this will happen many, many times, whether you are being hounded by slimes or not. Happily, there isn't a time limit and you restart a stage as many times are you want, but that might not be too many times, I'm sorry to say. This is due to a number of issues that collectively make Bob's adventure somewhat less than Brilliant to play for more than... two minutes or so.

As mentioned, the stages mostly consist of many floaty platforms, so much of the gameplay involves jumping about all over the place, usually while avoiding slimes and/or hazards, to reach the teleporter exit thing. As you might imagine then, of particular importance here are two aspects of the game: the controls and the camera. These are, however, both guaranteed to cause desk-smashing levels of anger here. The camera is definitely the least bad of the two - it actually isn't too bad except for the need to control it manually using your controller's shoulder buttons which isn't easy if you need to move/jump at the same time. Otherwise you'll need to know where to jump ahead of time because you won't be able to see, and that means a lot of practice.

The controls, on the other hand, will probably cause you nightmares for years to come. Bob's normal jumping ability is only average so is complimented by a double-jump. It's easy enough to perform - just press the jump button while near the apex of a jump. Unfortunately, however, it often fails to work at seemingly random intervals. Bob also moves with a little inertia; not too much but enough to consistently affect jumps and landings. The latter can be hard enough to judge as it is, too, since there's no shadow to help pick a landing spot. The sun casts a shadow but that's usually over on the horizon somewhere so it's no use for helping you gauge your jump distance. Perhaps worst of all, though, are the moving platforms which jolt Bob around when they change direction.

This might not sound too bad but it often causes him to fall off and can be particularly infuriating if you've just made a difficult jump only to be shunted off the edge. Grrr! This kind of thing really ruins Brilliant Bob which might otherwise have been pretty decent for a cheapie indie platformer. Its Unity-powered graphics aren't bad - I like the lush greenery all over the place - but sadly there really aren't many more positives here. Presentation-wise, it's much rougher around the edges than most examples I've played, the attention to detail is sorely lacking in some areas, and there are no appealing little touches like a death animation or noise (you just silently fall and start again). It hasn't even been optimised for different resolutions despite giving you many such options.

It just isn't a very enjoyable game to play. With most platformers I have an almost-OCD-ish need to find and grab all the collectibles I can, but not here - I don't even try unless they're right in front of me as I just know it isn't worth the very likely possibility that I'll fall while trying. For a game with such an emphasis on precision jumping for pretty much its entire length, it's amazing how loose the controls are. Character movement is far too imprecise to make much progress a realistic proposal. It's not that it's impossible - apparently a speed run will see the game finished in just under 20 minutes if you're supremely patient - but you'll almost certainly get fed up with falling to your doom over and over again long before that. It didn't take me too long to lose my patience!

So, to cut an already rather long story slightly shorter than it would have been, Brilliant Bob was a big disappointment. I love platformers and was pleased to find a happy-looking one that didn't require endless killing but I have been left shocked and traumatised after enduring such prolonged spells of tremendous anger. I am of course exaggerating, I guess it's not that bad, but intense waves of exasperation surely await anyone who spends much time with this game. To give you an idea of how bad it is, the developer has now been banned from Steam, so we can't even hold on to the faint hope of any issues being sorted out! The premise could've made for an entertaining game, and it's entirely possible that Bob himself is indeed brilliant, but I'm afraid his game definitely isn't.

RKS Score: 3/10


 

The Last Pinball Medics in NYC [Australian Retro Gamer] [[source]]


source: Motherboard With pinball gaining more and more popularity in the mainstream, Motherboard’s State of Repair sits downs and chats with pinball doctors Mike Hooker of Sayville, Long Island and Jon Ehrlich, owner of Brooklyn pinball bar Jackbar, to chat with them about the popularity of pinball games today and what goes into maintaining and keeping these complex machines running. […]

Saving Kong - Gabriele Amore's ZX Spectrum game features some lovin'! [Indie Retro News] [[source]]


It's the ZX Spectrum's time to shine this week a new game was released for the 80's system and this one is a Kong climbing shooter developed by Gabriele Amore for the ZX-DEV comp called 'Saving Kong'. Now unlike the historic film called King Kong, which this game is inspired by, you play as Helen Blond, who after feeling Mario was less of a man, decided to go off with King Kong instead. So it

Commodore SuperPET (MMF9000) Accessories & Motherboard KIT [nIGHTFALL] [[source]]


Commodore SuperPET (SP9000/MMF9000) Accessories & Motherboard KIT for Replacement (NOS) This is a New Old Stock (NOS) Kit from Commodore sold as spare parts for the Commodore SuperPET (SP9000/MMF 9000). We are talk about the early model of the SuperPET the one with two internal motherboards (sandwich) and four external switches. Motherboards and Accessories have [...]

GIG Leonardo Composite Mod [nIGHTFALL] [[source]]


Video Composite modding: Removed the RF modulator. Removed one pin of the 3 resistors (see photo) for the video composite output, you can get a better image (contrast and color) (see photo) I have used the same hole of the RF cable for the composite video and audio cable. Gallery of the Video Composite mod: [...]

GIG Leonardo (Hanimex 2650 – Arcadia 2001) 50% Boxed [nIGHTFALL] [[source]]


The Leonardo console is nothing more than a italian clone distributed by “Gig” of the console Emerson Arcadia 2001. 35 games have been published under the GIG Leonardo label. Arcadia 2001 is a second-generation 8-bit console released by Emerson Radio in 1982 following the release of ColecoVision. It was discontinued only 18 months later, with [...]

Milton Bradley's Dark Tower [Retro Treasures] [[source]]


I haven't mentioned vintage board games in ages, so here's a mouth-watering Dark Tower auction on eBay. It's a fully working, complete, boxed version of MB's RPG-inspired fantasy game, and though not the best designed offering ever, the titular, digital Dark Tower still looks awesome.

Seller ships to many places worldwide.

After-Action Review: An Overview of the Making of LuftrauserZ [RGCD/Retro Gamer CD] [[source]]




After releasing LuftrauserZ last month, a few people asked for a post-mortem on how Paul Koller created his opus, the demake that many thought was improbable -if not impossible- to achieve on the modest 8-bit breadbin. A brief making of both Luftrausers and LuftrauserZ is included within the game manual, but with a limited page count a great deal of info was missed. So, to rectify this and fill in the blanks, Paul has helpfully written the following blog post on the creation of LuftrauserZ.

Of course, it would be foolish of me not to remind you that the game is (currently) available to buy again on cartridge and as a download. The cartridges don't tend to stay in stock for long though!



Shortly after having finished Micro Hexagon in 2013, I wanted to try my hands on implementing a high-speed full-screen all-directional scrolling engine on the C64. I quickly had an engine running which supported up to 8 pixels/frame. Only after finishing the engine did I begin to look for a suitable game to use the engine in. At that time (early 2014) I knew of the imminent release of the high-speed arcade-shooter Luftrausers by Vlambeer. Having previously ported Super Crate Box to the C64, I knew their games have designs that would also work quite well on more limited hardware.

So even before the original release of Luftrausers, I decided to try and port the game to the humble C64. I knew that I wanted to have the game running as smooth as possible, so that means running at 50 fps (in PAL land :)). To have sufficient time for the general game logic, while also supporting high-speed scrolling, I knew I had to compromise somewhere. The nice thing with Luftrausers is that it was designed around a limited colour palette, while also the in-game background graphics are based on silhouettes. The C64 supports a so-called Enhanced Background Mode (EBM) that supports 4 different background colours at the cost of only supporting 64 different background characters. I knew that this graphics mode would be ideal for this game, since it removes the need to scroll the colour-RAM! However, with this EBM mode, it took some imagination to fit all different background graphics into only 64 different 8x8 pixel definitions! I think I succeeded quite well in the end...


Since the screen resolution of the c64 is much lower than the original game, I first tried to scale down all the graphics, such that the game gives you a similar field of view. However, I quickly realised that I would not be able to get all the different player sprite configurations nicely into the game in this way. And maybe even more important, with a more zoomed-out image it would be more difficult to get a high enough density of enemy planes on screen to give the player enough to worry about. In the end I chose to keep the same detail as the original and thus give a more zoomed-in view. Since there are no real obstacles in the game, this more zoomed-in view does not impact gameplay that much...


The c64 only supports 8 sprites on screen at the same time. I knew this would not be enough for the player, enemies, bullets, as well as the score indicator. In principle this 8 sprite limit can be overcome by using a sprite multiplexor, however I knew it would not be ideal for this game, since one can only have 8 sprites on a horizontal line. Also, I wanted to support lots of bullets as well. In the end I decided to go for character based bullets, and only multiplex the player and score sprites. Since bullets travel quite fast, it would not be that noticeable that they only move in steps of 8 pixels. It does mean that even less characters would be available for the ingame graphics! The c64 also supports expanding a sprite image through hardware. This meant that the big aces could be implemented as expanded fighter images, removing the need for additional sprite graphics!

The different weapon systems were relatively easy to implement. Only the laserbeam caused me some headaches. I knew it would be impossible to have a large solid beam on screen together with all the other graphics. In the end, the best compromise I came up with was a shorter, but fast moving laser beam.


Another crucial graphics element that would be difficult to port over was the damage indicator. In the original game a large circle is drawn around your plane, whose radius indicates the amount of health you have left. I tried different approaches here, but all of them were not large enough for you to notice in the thick of the action. Showing the remaining health as border color worked quite well, since it does not need special attention to notice while in the thick of the action!

The original game is also known for its dynamic soundtrack, which changes depending on the plane configuration that you selected. I wanted to include something similar in my c64 port. However, having 125 different soundtracks would be a bit too much. In the end we decided to go for the 5 variations that are featured on the Kozilek OST (BandCamp link). Stein Pedersen succeeded incredibly well in porting these to three-voice SID-tracks. By linking these to the 5 different weapon systems, some nice variation in the soundtrack has been realised!


Although I wanted to have as much of the original game in there as possible, some things had to go because of technical reasons. The obvious one is that the amount of enemy planes and bullets on screen at the same time had to be reduced. I tried to have the enemy submarines in the game, but I couldn't have them rising out of the water together with the fast scrolling. In the end I decided to remove them completely. Also the laser aces were not possible due to needing additional sprites for the laser beams. Still, the most important enemies, including the blimp, did make it into the game!

During coding of the game I quickly realised that having all the different player sprites in RAM would not be possible. Even with building the player sprites from 3x5 different parts, and only having the 90deg rotation images stored, I needed additional memory to store them all! Having worked with RGCD in the past, I decided that my Luftrausers port would also be exclusive the cartridge format. This enabled me to quickly copy the required player sprite images over from ROM, without interfering with the game flow!


Around the same time Individual Computers were developing a low-cost cartridge that would enable saving to an eeprom chip. Since Luftrausers is based on continuously unlocking new parts, we needed some way to save your progress. In the end we decided to use this new cartridge format, enabling people to enjoy the game without the need for additional tape or disk storage systems. However, at that time no generic flash-software existed to burn the ROM images themselves, so this also needed to be written.

During the development there were quite some ups and downs motivation wise. After having written the bulk of the engine, you realise all the less fun parts that still need to be coded before having a finished game. Because of this, the development of the port took more than 3 years to finish! However, by showcasing the game at several events (including GamesCom in 2016), enough motivation came back to put the finishing touches to the game.


At the beginning of 2017 my c64 port of Luftrausers (titled LuftrauserZ to distinguish itself from the original game) was essentially finished. However, commisioning of the package design, as well as personal issues, lead to multiple significant delays. In the end it took until the beginning of December till we could release the game, just in time to ship for Christmas. James decided to release the game in batches of about 30-40 copies to keep it all manageable and avoid delays in shipping. However, this did lead to the fact that many people only heard about the release after the carts were already sold out! In the end it only took a few weeks to reach 100 sales, making it quite a successful launch (122-and-counting at the time of writing). The response from the community was overwhelming. In the end we scored 4th in the Reset magazine C64 2017 GOTY award. Which is very good if you see what other amazing C64 games came out that year!

In the meantime I'm already working hard on a new C64 game. Follow me on twitter if you want to keep up with the latest news!

(Paul Koller, 15/01/17)