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Everything posted by Mezrabad

  1. Mezrabad

    Brief Rehash

    Something interesting about this, all these years later, my son is in his 20s now and has been living away from home for almost five years now. (Yes, I miss him terribly and I'm about to be missing his sister, too.) He was having a conversation with a roommate at one point and suddenly realized that most people, in fact, no one he was meeting at university, had ever played, say, the Fairchild Channel F, or an Odyssey^2, or even an Atari VCS! He had to stop and blink a moment when he realized that his experience with older video games was rare and pretty unique amongst all the other humans he's ever likely to meet in person.
  2. Mezrabad

    Simon Says

    I am amazed at how intact most of what I stored here at AtariAge is and still appearing on my blog. Anything else, my attempt to make a YouTube channel, a website (though I still own the domain chronogamer(dot)com... i think, yes, I've been paying whatever for it bi-annually for 16 years...) has fallen to dust but AtariAge has continued to be awesome. (From my perspective, I mean, I'm just a time traveler, so I really don't know.)
  3. Mezrabad


    There's a series by a YouTuber named FrameRater who does a great job of taking old system and exploring all the games while demonstrating them visually, I'm not sure, but I think he's using OdySim for when he tries the Odyssey. I may need to check it out. When I was originally doing this, there was kind of an "emulator" (OdyEmu) but I've lost track of it. That's great that you roped your kids into playing it, too! xD
  4. Mezrabad

    First Home Adventure

    Yeah! If I remember correctly, this was more of a video game where the actual video elements are intentionally obscured. Weird stuff, but I really liked the overlay.
  5. Mezrabad

    Cat and Mouse

    YES! Exactly. Maybe these games were relying on old school board game etiquette mixed with the novelty of a game on a TV screen to get people through these games. I think there was some playtesting done (the interview with Don Emry comes to mind, if I'm remembering right.) but I don't think it was very rigorous.
  6. Mezrabad


    There are so many other ways I wish I'd done this, but at a certain point, thinking about it like that can make me freeze and stop moving forward. Of course, that's not why there are such huge gaps. The gaps are because life just kept happening. I hope you're doing okay, Nelio.
  7. Mezrabad

    Insert lame "puck" pun here.

    Greetings! That's a good point! If I remembered the game better, I'd probably like "hey, that makes sense now!" but it's all very murky. A lot of these games seemed like rounds of flipping a coin but with more steps. It's really wonderful though to find a comment from 2018. I hope you're doing well, traveler!
  8. Skiing (Atari VCS, Dec 1980, Activision) To me, Skiing by Activision will always be that cheesy commercial with the guy doing the bad French accent and playing the game poorly. I didn't really understand at the time what was going on with these "new Atari games" that had a different box style and didn't seem to be by Sears or Atari. The commercial for Skiing (which my friends and I thought was hilarious) really stands out in my mind, even though it doesn't strike me as funny today. Yes, it's on YouTube. I do remember spending a very focused Saturday afternoon trying to qualify for the Activision Skiing Team. Apparently this has become known as Game 3b (because one plays the third game on the cart with the difficulty settings on "b"). To qualify, your time had to be under 28.2 seconds. I distinctly remember beating qualifying, but I don't remember if I got 28.17 or 28.19. I think I took the actual picture. I never sent it in for the patch, though. This is among my few remaining childhood regrets. Fortunately, um, most of my childhood regrets have been vastly overshadowed by my many adulthood regrets. Such is life. There are two types of Skiing games: Slalom (Games 1 - 5) and Downhill (Games 6 - 10). The games increase in challenge, but it is possible to get to know each course well. Tonight, I popped the cartridge into my Atari Video Computer System, reviewed the manual, selected Game 3b and after about four tries had my time down to 28.46. A few more tries it was at 28.21 (grrrr) and then finally I hit 28.14. I'm still a spiritual member of the Activision Skiing Team. Go me. Yes, I took a picture. I had forgotten that the left difficulty switch when set to "a" would let your skier ski off the trail and through the woods, even making it possible to ski around the mountain. I remember finding that concept very interesting as a teen. I loved the idea of parts of the "world" persisting off-screen. All in all, Skiing is one of my better remembered games from back in the day and I honestly feel that Activision can thank their marketing department for selling it to me with that cheesy commercial. Addendum: I think one of my fondest memories of the Atari was being stuck on the couch for a couple weeks with a broken ankle playing Adventure. I'd broken it while skiing. Maybe that's why I had to get the cartridge. Addendum duex: Anyone else remember the Flintstones episode where there were spies and one of the code words was "slalom"? Was this the cold war creeping in on our childhoods? Okay, we're done with 1980 for the Atari VCS and it only took me from August of 2009 until April of 2021. Ha. I'll start working on the games for the Odyssey^2 next. It's been a very long time since I hooked up my Odyssey^2. Looking forward to seeing how it goes.
  9. WHAT?!!!?11! See this is why having kids was a bad idea (kidding, I love my kids) I did get time to play games. I was able to buy interesting devices like the DexDrive. However I lacked the imagination to go online and learn about interesting hacks to save games like bringing back Aerith. I'm glad to know it exists though and since I have the PSX and FF7 discs, maybe I'll look into it. Totally unrelated, but I should probably look for a copy of THPS3. I get the feeling they're going to cost a lot more in the coming weeks. xD
  10. Did you get your Crazy Climber cart since then?
  11. Hey, enjoyed your new publication. I think it could even be called a 'zine. Which I think was what they were calling them after my time, but before this time. (I'm thinking they called them 'zines in Rocket Power?) Anyway, enjoyed it and I'd never seen a Supervision before, so thanks for that. ^ ^
  12. It's freaking amazing that this is happening in 2021. Glad I saved my DexDrive... I actually think I have a computer that it will work with!
  13. Wow, that's a good point about how this would have been "Who's Jackie Chan?" moment when this was released. I was only vaguely aware of Supercop before I saw Rumble in the Bronx. Looking at Jackie Chan's movies on IMDB... wow. Long list. LOL 6:03 "True to the stunt master that he is" Nice! Excellent call out! He's pretty immune to fall damage in his movies, too. Really enjoying your vids!
  14. Video Checkers (Atari VCS, Dec 1980, Atari) In 1980, Checkers feels like the new Blackjack. Blackjack seems like it was a requirement to be on every system. Checkers... well, maybe not on every system. It was already on the Fairchild Channel F (which, I missed back when I played through 1978 like... more then a decade ago, but less than 40 years ago. I'll get to it soon.) and we've seen it on the Intellivision and Atari. Now we get to play it on the Atari again. This time, I did think about going to use the world-famous A.I. Checker Program, Chinook, but alas, I wasn't patient enough to sit through the Atari's "thinking" phases at its top level, so I'm just going to go over the features that this Checkers has. Nine levels of difficulty: Games 1-9 represent Checkers against the Computer in 9 levels of increasing difficulty. Game 10 is human vs. human in case all of the checker boards in your house had been stolen or something or you wanted the novel feeling of playing the game on the TV. I'm not judging you for this. The computer takes longer to decide its move the higher the skill level. Ranging from less than two seconds on Level 1, to 30 seconds on Level 6, to 15 minutes per turn on Level 9. "Giveaway" Checkers: Games 11-19 are called "losing" or "giveaway" Checkers. Giveaway Checkers is a variant of the game where you try to lose your pieces first by forcing your computer opponent to jump your pieces. I honestly had never of this version of Checkers before. Skill level of the computer increases as you move from game 11 to game 19, of course. Game Select (to change skill level) functional during a game: Something interesting about the Game Select switch. You can start playing a game on a skill level and decide, in the middle of the game, (but not while the computer is thinking) to increase the skill level. I thought that was kind of neat. Checker notation is used: Atari's Video Checkers uses checker notation and it's noted at the top of the screen. The manual specifically mentions playing other computer opponents and using the Checkers notation to convey the moves to avoid any confusion. (I tried playing two computers against each other when the board is inverted on one. It is hard (for me) to turn my brain around like that. The number system makes it easier to translate the moves to the other computer.) Checker Notation bonus: The B/W switch lets you change up the numbering system in case the computer playing against the Atari is less flexible. This was thoughtful to include and makes the Atari seem to be the more gracious opponent. ("Oh, of course, binary opponent. This unit is happy to adjust its numbering settings for you! It's no trouble at all!") Set up your own board: Moving the left difficulty switch to "a" allows you to set up the board however you like and then play it by putting the switch back to "b". Actual instructions on playing Checkers!: Yeah, I mention this because Activision's manuals are pretty light in general (which was mostly fine). Their manual for their Bridge game didn't fuss with giving the rules at all and their manual for Checkers was also quite brief. Atari's Video Checkers' manual seems absolutely luxurious in comparison. My impression is that the feature set of Video Checkers is pretty rich. I'm not knocking the others (and I'm not going back to actually compare them, lawds no.) but if I had to pick the one I've liked the most so far, I'd have to pick Atari's Video Checkers. I still need to look at Checkers on the Fairchild Channel F though. One game left for the Atari in 1980, Activision's Skiing.
  15. Hi! Good to see you, too! and for a moment I forgot how to quote a comment to respond to it. xD
  16. Old people: "Play new games but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold" It's me. I'm Old people. There's a game we play our entire lives called "Explore vs. Exploit". When seeking to entertain ourselves we are faced with the decision to Explore something new that we might enjoy, or to Exploit something we already know we enjoy. This idea is talked about more broadly in a book called "Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions" by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths. If you haven't already read it, I do strongly recommend it. I know this sounds crazy, (we prefer the term "mental disorder", btw, thanks.), but I always struggle with deciding on what to play and I've literally wasted entire weekends on this indecision. Having every game available to me from 1972 to around 1995 has not helped me at all when trying to figure out what exactly to play when I'm trying to catch up on what I missed when I wasn't paying attention. Dragster (Atari VCS, Jul 1980, Activision) I never really understood this game back in the 80s. I don't think I ever owned a copy and the concept behind it (efficient gear-shifting for maximum speed over a limited distance) was outside of my experience. I do blame this for never having learned to drive a stick-shift until I was in my early 20s. You can play Dragster over and over and over and afterwards find you've only been playing it for about 10 minutes. If you don't have any idea of how you shift gears in a car with a stick-shift then it can be quite frustrating, at first. My first few times I simply blew the engine out and my vehicle didn't even move until I re-read the manual and realized I was trying to shift incorrectly. It's a fun game for what it is. Learning how to quickly engage a learned sequence of actions while perfecting the timing can tickle a challenge urge in us that we sometimes find it interesting to indulge. (I never beat 6.33 seconds. I will never be worthy enough for a patch. So be it.) The second game on the cart adds the challenge of steering. I found that additional challenge interesting but it didn't quite engage me after all the time I'd spent grinding my gears on the first game. If you decide to try it, I do recommend reading the manual as well as being aware that you can reset the game after an attempt by pushing the joystick to the right. It's better than leaning forward to hit the reset button a couple dozen times. That takes us out of July 1980 for the Atari VCS. We've covered a bunch of the other 1980 games already (some were 1981 games that we covered pre-maturely, oh well) but all we have left in this year (for the Atari) is December's Video Checkers (Atari) and Skiing (Activision). I still haven't even gotten to the Fairchild Channel F or the Odyssey^2 games, yet. This seems like a long year, because it's taken me 13 years to get through it, but it's not even half as long as 1982 is. Hopefully I'll get back into the rhythm.
  17. Interesting! I never knew that about the Ballblazer chip. (I've got a a Ballblazer cart though, so I guess I'm not worried.) I actually thought I'd lost my CC2. I hadn't seen it in quite sometime (years, at least) and only recently found it again in a box of Intellivision carts. I think I put it in there during a brain fart thinking it was CC3. (which looks totally different, of course, but brain fart)
  18. Oooh no, I think playing it on the Analogue Mega Sg is great. I'm just saying there's a certain feel to holding a single cart and saying "oh, hey, I have this game." - I have a Cuttle Cart 2 and an Uno and I still enjoy finding actual 2600 carts to play instead of just finding the game on the multi-cart. I don't do that for every game (hell, i can't) but I always play my original Adventure cart for Atari VCS just because it's a cool feeling. xD
  19. holy crap LOL great setup for addressing the battery issue! xD and this IS a nightmare.
  20. Checkers (Atari VCS, Jul 1980, Activision) “Chess is like looking out over a vast open ocean; checkers is like looking into a bottomless well.” -Marion Tinsley Marion Tinsley was the World Champion of Checkers from 1950 to 1990. Other people only gained the title if Tinsley didn't show up to play. He won the World Championship whenever he chose to play for it. Jonathan Schaeffer was a computer scientist. He lead the team that developed Chinook. Chinook is the computer program that plays checkers. Their story is a great story which I would love to tell you. Instead, I'm going to tell you the short and crappy version of that story. Chinook almost beat Tinsley in 1992. In 1994 they played against each other again. They played six games to a draw. Tinsley had to stop playing because he was in a lot of pain. The pain was cancer. He died a few months later. Chinook never defeated Tinsley. Tinsley's death inspired Schaeffer. Schaeffer's computer program "solved" Checkers in 2007. What that means is that the computer knows all the ways to play the game so that it either wins or draws. A much better version of that story can be found here: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/07/marion-tinsley-checkers/534111/ I don't really have anything to say about Activision Checkers. It's a good version of Checkers. It's easy to play. The graphics look fine. There are a total of four games on the cart. Three games against the computer. (Novice, Intermediate, Expert) The Novice game takes about 15 minutes. The Expert game can take about 2 hours because the computer takes longer to think. The Intermediate game takes more time to play than the Novice game and less time to play than the Expert game. I bet you already knew that part about the Intermediate game. The fourth game is a two-player game. For the two-player game I needed to find another person. Every person I tried to drag into my house ran away from me. I decided I would cheat by having another computer program choose my moves for me. I chose the website MathIsFun, which has a Checkers game. I put Activision Checkers on Novice. I put MathIsFun Checkers on Hard. Activision Checkers won. Apparently that website is for kids, so don't be impressed. You might have thought I was going to have Chinook play against Activision Checkers. That would have been smart, but I didn't think of it until just now. Chinook is here: https://webdocs.cs.ualberta.ca/~chinook/play/ Let me know if you win.
  21. Golf (Atari VCS, Jun 1980, Atari) (Credit to Random Terrain for his awesome and well-researched list which helps me play Atari VCS games in chronological order with much more confidence. https://www.randomterrain.com/atari-2600-memories-history-1980.html) So, earlier "this year", I played PGA Golf on the Intellivision and there was some discussion of the phrase "below par". I dislike what I considered its misuse in language to suggest poor performance while at the same time in Golf parlance it means a good performance. An astute and always wonderful reader, Nelio, pointed out that the phrase "below par" had usage outside of golf. Of course, he was correct and 13 years later, I decided to look into it. The phrase originated in a financial context and appeared in a financial journal in the early 1700s. I don't know why it became opposite in the game of Golf. A poem was written about it which I publish here without permission from anyone: Above And Below Par by Leon S. White When you say about a chap, that he’s above par Exactly what it is you mean, depends on where you are. If you’re on a golf course, you’re referring to his score Which, relative to even par, is at least one stroke more; But in a different setting, above par means Excellent, outstanding, even sterling genes. So above par’s opposite is that which golfers seek Otherwise below par is really rather weak. However when below par play leads to an above par score Then the seeming opposites are opposite no more. (By the way, that PGA Golf entry "earlier in this year" was entered in August, 2008, almost 13 years ago, and holy crap how time flies.) Intellivison's PGA Golf had a great deal of detail to it. You could slice the ball, hook the ball, worry about the wind, worry about the material of your golf club... it really did a great job, in my opinion. Have I played it since? Well, no. I don't really love golf. However, it did make an impression on me. Golf for the Atari VCS is more like the beer and pretzels version of a golf video game, which isn't to say it lacks in charm. The Atari came out two-ish years before the Intellivision, so it's reasonable that any game on it will be less complex. This game of Golf kept me interested longer than I expected and I managed to play it for about an hour. With other people and beer and pretzels, I might play it longer. (Though, I'm trying to cut back on carbs so perhaps some healthier snacks.) There's a single-player and a two-player game each with easy and hard modes. The player is shown on an overhead view of the whole field. There's a "green" with a hole on it and that's the ball's destination. I have no idea whether it would be possible to get a "hole-in-one" on any of these holes. It felt inconceivable. Your mileage may vary. There is no variation in the club material or weight that you use, just the amount of power you put into swinging your little stick of jagged pixels. The learning curve is mostly spent getting used to the angle the ball will travel depending on the angle the golfer is facing when starting its swing. At first, it can feel counter-intuitive but one can develop the knack. After a swing or two (or five or eleven, don't judge me) the ball will make it to the green. The playing view switches to a closer view of the hole and its surrounding putting green. The mechanics of aiming the ball really isn't any different from the long-distance swinging, but the power of the swing feels a tiny bit more nuanced. I'm probably imagining that. In hard mode the hole looks tiny, and is about a quarter of the size of the hole in easy mode. There are nine different holes. There are hazards on the field that can be gotten over if you've hit the ball hard enough. The ball will will soar over lakes, sand traps or trees if given the momentum. These hazards will stop, trap or deflect a ball, respectively. If playing in hard mode, it's possible to lose the ball in "the rough". When the ball flies off the course it will disappear in the blue area, representing the untamed wilderness beyond the boundary of the course. The ball can still be hit (your club will angle towards it), but it cannot be seen and it will take several strokes to get it out of the rough and back into visibility. Even after the angle of the swinging is understood, the game is still challenging and I did find myself resetting it to play it one more time, twice. I actually wanted to play it a fourth time, but I knew I still wanted to write this entry and I didn't have all night. (If you must know, the par of the course is 30. I was waaaay over par, getting 97 on my first game (easy mode), 68 on my second game (hard mode), and 60 on my third game (also hard mode).) Not gonna lie. I enjoyed myself playing this. Overall, I found myself smiling. There were two choices the developer made that stood out to me. 1. When setting up the swing the player may choose to back away from the ball before they release the button to commit to the swing. This doesn't count as a stroke if it doesn't hit the ball. I thought that was a really nice touch. It's a little difficult at first to get a feel for where the ball is going to go as one maneuvers the golfer and its stick around the ball. Having this option of a few "practice strokes" to better understand my aim did save a lot of frustration. 2. Something I wasn't crazy about was when one gets the ball into the hole, one is instantly transported to the next hole. No fanfare. Nothing. I would have preferred to be given a moment or two. Just to breathe and check my score while I was still in the context of that hole. That's it. Tune in next time. yada yada yada. PS: (While playing Golf, I did find myself thinking "If only I could shave two strokes off my golf game!" and "Existence is pain!". I don't know where that could have come from...)
  22. THAT is an excellent point. Forgive my right-handed bias. You are absolutely correct. Nelio, you're right, too! I don't actually know where the term "under par" came from. It might indeed not have originated with Golf. 13 years later, I still don't really know.
  23. Doesn't it blow your mind that this game is 28 years old now? When this was a meme (1999) the Atari VCS was only 22 years old. I really enjoyed watching the unboxing and I think it's cool that you wanted to savor playing it on the TV. I feel the same way when I have an original cart. I want to play the original cart on the actual console rather than on a multi-cart or emulator. Good video, good commentary! Thanks for sharing your joy!
  24. I like your presentation choices here! It was really chill just to listen and watch you play.🙂
  25. I have no source for my comment, but a vague recollection that "they" (the people that do these sorts of studies) tested a bunch of self-proclaimed audiophiles by letting them listen to music sent through different qualities of speaker wire and rating them. (I know this is different from speakers) The highest ranking speaker wire with the "best sound" turned out to be from wire coat hangers. I don't know if the story is true and I don't want my illusions crushed so I'm not googling it, but I thought it was an interesting anecdote.
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