Get a modded controller with a paddle for Kaboom!, Pole Position and Super Breakout, you won't be sorry. Far better than a trak-ball or joystick (analog or digital).
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Posted by ledzep on Sat Feb 21, 2015 7:56 PM
I loved the amount of games and the variety. It was cool to walk into a new arcade and more or less instantly know all the games and where they were simply from the sound effects. I bought those Arcade Ambiance CDs just to relive that feeling from time to time. Unlike some here I don't think that home consoles ever caught up to arcade cabinets. Yes, in terms of CPU speed and raster displays but no home unit, except maybe the Vectrex, has ever equaled the vector displays from the classic arcade games, and no console has the array of controllers (with their custom layouts) that arcade games had as a whole. I miss that the most, I think.
I love the side art for the games (those games where you could see their sides, at least) and the dimly-lit rooms the games were in. As someone else mentioned, the blast from sunlight when I left was cool in a painful way (you can do that now if you spend all night in a 24-hour strip club in Vegas, haahahaa). The scene in "Tron" at Flynn's is a fantastic representation of the overall arcade vibe. I agree that once arcade games became nothing but 1st-person shooter games and 1st-person racing games I stopped giving a shit. I liked that nervous feeling you could get when trying a new game, others watching you to see if you sucked or not. It was fun, sometimes, to just watch a real pro go at a game and kick its ass, too, it was like nerd ballet.
The worst thing that happened to arcade games, from my point of view, was that the resolution got a little better. When games were 8-bit based you had to fill in a lot of blanks for what the game claimed you were looking at (vectors most of all). The ships, the enemies, the locations, they were all approximations, very abstract. I think Xevious was probably the best of the "worst" looking of the era in terms of detail. But after that, games got more detailed sprites and graphics. But they were still far far away from today's "photoreal" games. Yet they were detailed enough for you to notice how bad the representations were. Meaning now the crudely-shaded and shadowed ships and enemies were no longer abstractions but instead really shitty versions of the actual things they claimed to be. That turned me off completely. I guess I'm biased because I was around for when Space Invaders and Galaxian were new but I always preferred the LEGO block designs of early sprites and ships and enemies (and vector wireframe versions). But looking at something try to look real, and really failing at it (a lot of those Mortal Kombat style side-view fighting games), that was miserable to me, particularly when the game was trying to represent people. Spaceships and vehicles were more tolerable at that resolution and detail. But games makers started focusing on the visuals (how realistic they could make the various elements) and not the gameplay.
Lots of games in the late '80s and beyond devolved down to 1 joystick and 2 buttons, very boring and repetitive. My favorite games usually had odd control set-ups (Tempest, Star Trek: SOS, Centipede, Lunar Lander, etc.) so that was something I remember fondly as well.
Posted by ledzep on Wed Dec 31, 2014 4:35 PM
In Canada, such a mechanism does exist to deal with the situation when the copyright holder is unknown/unlocatable. The person wishing to use the material can apply to the Copyright Board of Canada, which will determine the fee and grant a license. The money is then held for several years, should the true owner of the copyright surface.
As far as I know, it has never been applied to video games. I suppose that someone could try...
There you go, sanity in copyrights. Leave it to the Canadians to figure this out, as they have figured out so many other things. Of course they're not perfect, Justin Bieber is the lesbian anti-Christ that must be destroyed and Canada must be punished for that. But still. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that we don't have a similar mechanism for such an eventuality because regulations = anti-freedom or whatever around here.
Posted by ledzep on Wed Dec 31, 2014 4:06 AM
I really wish someone could explain this fantasy of "damage" with IP rights when dealing with old games like these. Specifically, how allowing a re-release of an old Atari 2600 version of a known game for a Flashback console could in any way affect the profits or sales of the company that currently holds the rights.
For example, the old Superman game. I don't care for it, I remember hating it as a kid. So what, it would be cool for a Flashback to have that (completists rejoice). But DC Comics would never, right? Why? What would happen? Would current existing or planned PC or console games based on the Superman franchise be affected in any way? No. There is no way that someone who was interested in buying a PlayStation 4 Superman game would now not buy it or like it less simply because some blocky, slow Atari 2600 game that already existed would be available new, again, on a console that he had no intention of purchasing (because he isn't into retro consoles) and probably wasn't even aware was for sale. Or, worse, that person would abandon his PlayStation in order to buy a Flashback 6 with the Superman game on it. DC Comics could simply say go ahead, release it again, just pay us what you would pay any other rights holder (or negotiate something lower if possible). What would DC Comics care? "Shit, we want to release our new Batman vs. Superman movie, but, but, the old Atari 2600 Superman game is available at Walmart! How could we have been so stupid and short-sighted?! Now our box-office take will plummet!!" They wouldn't have to spend dime one on packaging or advertising.
Same for a game like Indy 500. Again, the game already exists, was already sold back in the day. Who cares if the game was re-released again, in the same form that wasn't an issue before, on a new retro console? I can understand if the rights holders to the Indy name considered the original 2600 game an abomination that had to be physically stomped out of existence. But they don't care who acquires a copy of the game from eBay and plays it on his original 2600 console so why care if the game is being played on a Flashback? Sure, pay them some license fee per Flashback but otherwise, why this convoluted legal maze to navigate over shit that already exists? Who cares? I mean who is saying "Oh no, that game could be sold again!"? Who? I have never understood that and nobody, no body, has ever been able to explain the negative impact of such a move. Meaning "Well, if that game appears on the Flashback then [fill in catastrophe] will occur and they really wouldn't like that and Atari couldn't afford to fix that." Why resist or deny allowing a game that was already for sale back in the day to be included in something like a Flashback retro console? For some fair cut of the profits? Nothing over the top, just some modern update to whatever the licensing at the time probably was. Back then both sides thought it was a decent result, right? Pole Position, Crazy Climber, E.T., who cares? Pay the license fee, everybody wins.
I can understand if Activision, against all reason, still holds some rivalry hatred for Atari and won't allow their games to appear on the Flashbacks unless they're paid 100x what the licensing is worth because fuck you Atari. Childish, but ok. Otherwise, why not accept some zero-effort free profit from allowing ancient ROMs to be included on the Flashbacks for a reasonable cut? Would they rather have 100% of nothing in terms of new Atari Flashback sales or 4% (or whatever) of new Atari Flashback sales? All with no effort, they need to do nothing but approve. Can't the rights for games from Imagic or whoever is completely out of business revert to public domain? Ever? Or can't there be some legal decision to what would be a fair, industry-standard licensing fee and put that in Escrow from each Flashback sale for whoever might win the copyright cage match to ultimately be declared new/current holder of ancient Imagic or Apollo or Data Age games rights? Here's you cut? I mean those companies (whichever ones did) went out of business for a reason.
I've never seen a graph or chart where someone could say "And right here, that's when that old 8-bit version of Defender was available again and it caused sales of the XBox version of Defender to lose 30% of its profit generation until the rights holders successfully got the courts to stop them from selling any more copies. See? Right here, where the profits rise again? That same week." It doesn't exist. Neither is there any evidence for a dip in popularity for a modern version of a game due to it's primitive ancestor being part of a Flashback or limited run release. I wonder how sales of the Atari 5200 version of Tempest (with Trak-Ball support, no less!!) through AtariAge has hurt sales of any more modern Tempest 2000/3000/Xtreme versions. I will guess that it hasn't done shit to any sales of any newer versions since it wasn't possible for it to be a direct competitor to any of those versions since it's only available on the 5200 and those others are not. Otherwise, it would be expected that someone at one of the companies selling the newer versions would have known - "Hey, what the fuck? How come our sales of Tempest Ultimate 3D+ are lagging? It's been our best seller for 6 months now, yet... oh shit, oh no no no. Check the forums! I think someone might have started selling a homebrew of the original Tempest on an old system that isn't available new and doesn't compete with us in any way! We're doomed if we don't stop him right now!! If he manages to sell more than 30 CIB versions... oh my god, what will I tell my children? How will they live with no food?! Lord, not again, I'm gonna be sick... This is just like what happened to our run of Photoreal Pac-Man Empire games."
And yet everyone just kind of accepts that, you know, of course this game or that game can't be included because IP. I mean, the IP would, um, it would, there's just too much, the uh, right? It's too bad, really.
Posted by ledzep on Tue Oct 28, 2014 5:39 PM
And you're fooling yourself thinking that one copy on laser-based support is a backup.
They can be damaged, either by external causes, misshandling, improper storage, and, for most home burned supports, reflective layer degradation.
A safe backup is "simple". Multiple copies. On multiple supports. On anything, even Zip discs, cassette tapes, etc...
Hard drives are the best you can come up with. We have almost 50 years of experience with magnetic metal spinning discs, and for your standard, home IDE/SCSI/SATA 3" 1/2 HDD, over 25 years of experience.
Those things hardly fail. And, if we're talking about retro games, even a "small" 40 Gigs HDD found in the electronic recycling bin can carry hundred of games. And you can get lots of them for nothing!
I have other 20 HDD I found for free in the electronic bin of my town recycling center. Only one of them was not working (and one is an odd mix with Molex power plug and SATA data, but heh.)
Sure they are 40, 80, or 120 go HDD, and I found even two 450 Mo and 250Mo drives, but that's still lots of games. Bad sector? If they are backups, you don't fire them everyday. And with so much storage room, you can make two, three, four copies on the same drive and on another drive as well.
Still thinking it's not safe enough? Store one of those drive back-up at your parent's home, or at a family home, or something. And if you want to be more safe, get online storage.
The odds that you lose data from the online storage, your own hard drives AND your externally stored drives are very shallow... and for games that you can found with a 15 seconds search on Google (for most), it's much pain for not so much results.
But at th end, you're right. No storage way is eternal - nothing is. But heh, that's life.
Who said anything about "one copy"?
Look around at what large companies use for backups, it's tape or something else that's physical and static (doesn't need to be powered up). Yes, everything degrades and everything can be burned to ash or liquid. From what I've seen over the years no IT department uses stacks of hard drives for backups. They use RAID arrays to keep their accessible data relatively safe and they use rotating tapes to back all that up and they use offline tape storage for the older stuff that nobody currently needs to use (but may have to, though that threat hardly ever materializes). Those guys are cheap (meaning they don't pay extra for bling or having the coolest shit on the block) and they are paranoid (meaning they don't go for cutting-edge tech that isn't proven or reliable) and they don't believe for a second that hard drives = backups. Since nothing lasts forever they do consistent backups and they do multiple backups and that adds up quick, they'd be retards if they were filling warehouse up with hard drives full of copied data. Tapes and RAID, that's how they protect themselves against losing a week's worth of work that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and their reputation as a reliable service. Make the backups, check them, if they look good then store them. Done, repeat. Later, if they don't need them they get erased or shredded and they didn't spend loads of cash for extra hard drives.
Now, no individual with a couple computers in his house is going to be able to afford or have room for a tape robot so it's either some magnetic tapes in a box or blu-rays on a shelf. Fry's always has RW blu-ray packs on sale, 30 for $15 or whatever, and I've only gone through one of them to back up my modest data. But having a bunch of easily-corruptible flash drives or hard drives as "backups" is nuts. They're more expensive than optical discs, anyway, except in your trash recycling case. Good for you but most people don't do that or have that option.
Online storage helps but as far as security goes it's shit and out of your control. It's an extra level, not the only level.
Posted by ledzep on Sun Oct 19, 2014 2:07 AM
It's obvious that the digital copy is the thing of the future and might be fine if things were like on Star Trek or the way Jaque Fresco explains in his Venus Project concept. That is equal and universal access to everything with the extinction of any monetary system. As it is today it's like gambling at a casino. The odds are always in their favor. I don't gamble because I refuse to get ripped off. Likewise I won't pay for something that I can't use on my own whenever and wherever I desire and for as long as I want. For most modern games though it's a non issue for me since all of the 3D stuff gives me motion sickness so I can't utilize it anyway.
Whatever though. It's not like there's anything I can do about it all. Things are what they are and I have a myriad of stuff already that will keep me occupied for centuries.
Well, even in the Star Trek world the rare, physical editions of something are regarded more highly than any all-digital version. The rest are just "there", just tools or apps or whatever that aren't by themselves worth anything to them, not even nostalgically or personally since those examples are just information and infinitely cloned.
If "accepting the way things are" held true then vinyl would have never made a comeback (and it keeps getting stronger). While bookstores are becoming rare actual books are still around and some, like me, prefer those to an e-reader. An e-reader is nice as a convenience (Star Trek mindset) to read something unimportant or reference something once or twice quickly with search engines but all my favorite books I own as books. Same goes for music (CDs and vinyl) and video games (console carts, disks as well as full-size arcade games though obviously not many of those). Do you know that if the power goes out I can still read all my books and magazines? No way! Do you know that if the Internet burns to the ground I can still play all my video games and music? Sorcery! And if every GPS satellite drops out of orbit I can still read my map book and navigate my way to my destination, just like the cavemen did way way way back.
There is something you can do about it. "Vote" (talk) with your wallet, as theloon put it. I do, still get lots of packages from Amazon and eBay showing up with actual physical shit that I wanted (just received an Oil's Well cart for my 5200 from AtariAge, that was nice), not their digital equivalents. You know that business doesn't drive anything, consumers do. If all consumers abandon downloads and insist on physical copies then that's what will be offered. So whatever happens, it's on you, the businesses don't care so long as they make money. I still watch TV using my 36" Sony Wega CRT because even plasmas still look like ass in comparison (LCDs are hideous), no amount of marketing will convince my eyes that dot-crawl distortion isn't there. Now, when OLEDs aren't stupid expensive that will probably mark the point where I ditch the CRT because by then it will probably actually be dead but it won't be because I was simply accepting the way things are.
Posted by ledzep on Sun Oct 19, 2014 12:38 AM
Well, Tempest Tubes is a known addition, yes? Though it's more of a swap/hack than more levels added to the regular levels.
I'd love to see more variety added to -
Wizard Of Wor
Battlezone (new enemy tanks, ability to make it to the goddamn mountains finally!!)
Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back (different Imperial enemies, ability to fly other Rebel fighters, attack a Star Destroyer)
Tron (Sark's carrier, better tank levels that were less like Pac-Man)
Star Trek (Romulans, Reliant/Khan bonus level)
Posted by ledzep on Tue Aug 12, 2014 1:28 PM
One day, when I have the time/money/energy, I will get down to building a MAME cabinet. And when I do, I want to set the controls up like this guy did -
I can't stand the idea of having 20 worthless buttons/controls around me while I'm trying to play a game and having to reach over/around something that isn't part of the game I'm playing at the moment. This modular idea is the shit, it's like having a giant Atari 2600 with full-size swappable controllers. It would cover everything, no matter how specific. To paraphrase Lt. Coffey, I'm gonna have to take steps.
Posted by ledzep on Sat Aug 9, 2014 12:47 AM
Uh....I got the sarcasm loud and clear. The Scrooge McDuck image was what broke through the joke barrier.
Jeezum Crow....lighten up some of you. It's games! On old consoles! Rejoice! Be happy! Have a Shasta!
Agreed. Sarcasm is A Thing. Anyone with reading comprehension can figure it out. Scrooge McDuck is a cartoon, not a documentary. Seriously, it's everywhere and it's understood without disclaimers or goddamn emoticons. Otherwise what we're being told is that it's impossible to read a book like "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" and glean the sarcasm therein because the author forgot to include emoticons or little footnotes about what parts are or aren't sarcastic (it's ~80% of the book, for those who haven't read it). It's not always easy to figure out but then it's also not easy to make a limited run of boxed homebrew games without going broke.
I'm not big into the Intellivision (played a lot of it at my friend's house back in the day but never bought one) but I buy many Atari 5200 and Vectrex homebrews (and the occasional 2600 homebrew) and I'm more than willing to pay for the privilege, especially when they come boxed with manuals. This isn't 1982 and the homebrew market certainly ain't mainstream retail where you can go searching through 40 different stores hoping to find the best reduced price for the game you're looking for. Back then if the game sucked you didn't buy it, plenty of others to choose from. Or you bought it simply because you'd bought everything else and wanted something new, who knows. We are lucky enough to be getting new games for 30-year-old game systems! How cool is that? I still can't believe I own a boxed Tempest, Castle Crisis and Adventure II for the 5200. Or a boxed War Of The Worlds and Y.A.S.I./Protector for the Vectrex. Or a boxed Turbo for the 2600. That's bananas. I still need to buy a boxed Halo for the 2600. And these games aren't being supplied by Atari or GCE or Sega or Activision or anybody else. It's 1 or 2 or 3 guys in their spare time. Even if the game is a verified piece of shit, be happy that the effort is being made, that there's enough of a market out there for a game you don't like to be physically sold to others who do like it. 30+ years, man, and we've got people reinventing the fucking wheel to make all this happen, new PCBs and boxes and overlays. I applaud that effort, even for systems or games I don't like.
I hope homebrewists don't listen to the "Well, it'd be a lot cooler if it was free!" clowns out there, your efforts are worth more than $0 + $0 shipping (<-- sarcasm, for the mildly illiterate) (<-- more sarcasm)
Posted by ledzep on Fri Aug 1, 2014 2:24 PM
Sorry! I meant is the game (missle command) not the trackball the same. If the games are identical I might not want to pursue the 5200 trackball.
The games are more or less identical. But the Trak-Ball is worth having for Centipede (and Millipede) as well as the homebrew Tempest. And then you don't have to pull out your XEGS just to play Missile Command, right? I'd also consider finding/making a Paddle controller (modified joystick) in order to really enjoy Super Breakout and the homebrew Castle Crisis (Warlords).
You want to own all the Atari systems, as you say, this is what needs to be done.
Posted by ledzep on Fri Aug 1, 2014 4:31 AM
Man, those echo-y reverb crash sounds, haahaha. I miss that vibe. I remember when the 2600 was new and there were only like a couple dozen games and Activision didn't exist yet, we would buy a game or two once in a while. Those early games were so damn primitive! No more than blocks. Surround is another game I can't believe was so basic yet so much fun as a kid, along with Air-Sea Battle And Indy 500.
I agree about Stellar Track, that was a great "secret" game (Sears Tele-Games only). We would keep hitting Select (I think) in order to come up with a scenario with loads of enemies and a minimal amount of bases. Same with 5200 Star Raiders. We wanted more of a challenge.
Posted by ledzep on Sat Jun 14, 2014 1:02 PM
Don't sleep on Bedlam, that is an addictive, hard game in the same frantic style as Kaboom! even though the game play is very different. I've read reviews of it being a sort of inside-out Tempest but it's not quite that simple. The game is fun, though.
Posted by ledzep on Mon May 19, 2014 12:39 PM
I think probably a lot of the early arcade games (late '70s especially) were probably as good or better on home consoles. I always preferred the Atari 2600 Space Invaders to the arcade. I know the graphics weren't quite as good but I liked the extra game play options. Same goes for PONG and Canyon Bomber. I also prefer the Atari 5200 of Space Dungeon to the arcade version. My friend and I would play that for hours, one of us the pilot, the other the gunner. Much easier to do that sitting on a couch or floor than standing at the arcade cabinet.
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