Atari 7800 Retro Inspection In Retro Gamer Magazine #78

Atari 7800 Retro Inspection In Retro Gamer Magazine #78

My favorite Atari console of all time is the Atari 7800. It could play 99% of the Atari 2600 games and it had very nice versions of some of my favorite arcade games (Food Fight, Galaga, Pole Position 2, Joust, etc).

8bitrocket friend, Marty Goldberg (www.classicgaming.com) has written a HUGE (by Retro Gamer Standards) 8 page feature of this sometimes forgotten classic gem of a machine.

Here is a Youtube  walk through of the issue by GamerDaz.

The issue can be found at the Retrogamer Magazine site and at most fine book stores world-wide. I get mine at both Borders and Barnes and Noble (depending on what city I am in when I get the hankering for some retro games readin').

Nice work Marty (with some help his buddy Curt)

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8bitrocket.com Declares Today As Landon Donovan Day!

Let July 23rd, 2010 forever be known as Landon Donovan Day!


Strong Adobe CS5 Sales Show The Battle For Hearts And Minds Is Far From Over

The Wall Street Journal is reporting Adobe sales at $905 million for the first part of this year.  Here is a nice quote:

"...Apple's stance does not yet appear to be deterring purchasers of CS5..."

What does this mean?  It means that the corporate buyers, the ones with deep pockets and lucrative Enterprise Agreements ("EAs") are still buying from Adobe.  This is good news for Flash.  It means that CIOs have not been fooled by Apple...yet.  

We still think it is inevitable that the tide will turn away from Flash (to some extent), but Adobe has been doing very very well to keep things moving!


Apparenty, 360 "Natal" is Named "Kinect", And Apparenty Someone Jumped The Gun On Talking About It

It's now official (maybe) that the Xbox 360 "Motion Control" device, once named "Natal" will be named "Kinect", and apparently we are not supposed to know this yet.

The USA Today game "blog" (column, whatever) went with a story about it today, that now looks like this:

Oops. Someone jumped the gun and got called on it. The funny things is, they made the story into "xxxxxx", but they left the comments intact:


Anyway, we hope the guys who did this are not in trouble.  C/NET has a full story, so it looks like it's OK to to post now.

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USA v. England : A No Win Situation For 8bitrocket.com


Today the USA plays against England in their first game of the FIFA 2010 World Cup.  Whenever the USA plays England, it becomes an uncomfortable situation for 8bitrocket.com.  We have many friends who live all over the world, and usually we get along famously.  However, when we play each other in soccer matches, and especially when we play England, things can turn...well...ugly.

The last time the USA met England, a definite chill fell over relations with our English friends.  Things that we found funny suddenly were...not.  Things that we found interesting were suddenly...boring. 

This game might be the best chance ever to make our English friends upset, and it really doesn't matter how the game goes.

If the USA wins (highly unlikely), there is a good chance we will be blamed for it, and the cold-shoulder will return.   At the same time, if the USA loses, it will be tough to face the same people as they say things like "well, it's not your sport" or "no one in the USA cares anyway".  It is my sport, and I care very very deeply.

So, to our friends from England we wish you good luck and Godspeed...just not quite as much we wish our guys.  We will accept the cold-shoulder/soccer jibes for a while, but we expect things to return to normal come mid-July.  And come on, we all know that Maradona will find a way to get on the field and knock the tournament winning-ball in with his ego anyway , so what does this game really matter?

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Review: New Star Games Sensational World Soccer 2010

Wanna play some digital footie?


Sensational World Of Soccer 2010 Review.
Are you a USA fan who wants to replay the England match and try to put more goals by the hapless Robert Green? Are you an England fan who desires the opportunity to massacre a virtual  Tim Howard?  Are you an Argentina supporter who thinks he can take a digital  Messi to the promised land against the likes of Nigeria? Now you can and for only $6.99!  The brilliant single-button control scheme and classic 2D overhead game play will have you enthralled for hours as you guide your favorite country to World Cup glory.
  You even have control to edit tactics and save/load your favorite goal replays.

Unlike what most of our overseas (and over border) friends might assume, Steve and I have been fans of the world's game for our entire lives. I have watched every World Cup since 1978 (when only the matches that interested English fans were cut to 50 minutes and taped delayed to PBS stations in the USA). Living in Los Angeles that entire time (with no less that 5 Spanish language stations) we were also afforded the opportunity to also watch every match that mattered to Mexican, Central, and South American fans (albeit in  a tongue just slightly less difficult to understand for a 8 year old then the British PBS broadcasts).

We also played the youth game from age 8 until 15 and then took it up again at 25, playing  another 10 years with local leagues and teams to prove we still could. During that entire time (and beyond) we have supported the USA national team and all local pro teams even when there were only a hundred of us watching them at El Camino college stadium in Torrance (1984) up until now when the USA team boasts its largest fan base ever and a team of 23 that play in the best leagues in the world (including 3 great players from the local under-rated MLS).

Being such a fan of the game I was always happy to get the latest Anco or Sensible import footy game for  my Atari ST in the late '80s and early 90's. When I was forced to swap the ST for a PC in 1992 I was very disappointed with the state of football (soccer titles). The FIFA titles were always good and looked great but didn't have that classic playability that Anco and Sensible afforded the game player. Also, the sheer number of buttons needed to control play started to become ridiculous when it was 3 (Sega Genesis version in 1995) and that morphed to absolute lunacy with the 20 button version that I attempted to play last week on the 360.

A couple years back I was trolling Bigsoccer.com and found a thread on a PC soccer game called New Star Soccer 3 (NSS3). Created by indie developer, Simon Read, this game was a revelation. It was a combination of Anco Player Manager and Sensible World Of Soccer - two of the best footy games I had on the Atari ST.  Since then I have purchased every footy game Simon has put on the market (all of very reasonable prices from free to $20). Between versions of the full New Star Soccer (version 5 will be released this year), Simon has tested the market with a stripped down (read -  no player, team, and league management functions) match-engine only version. This year is no different as he gloriously takes on the 2010 World cup with his new match engine called:

Sensational World Soccer 2010

Harkening back to the simpler times of computer soccer (footy) games, Sensible World Soccer 2010 comes out swinging with an impressive looking and playing set of "ball skills", "solid fundamentals", and a little extra "magic" in places to make a wonderfully fun game to play especially given the $6.99 price tag.

Something old returns and something new is added

Shedding the solid (if not spectacular) 3D visuals of NSS4, the new
match engine boasts a refreshed version of the NSS3 2D match engine look
and style. While the match perspective returns to 2D, the control system has been upgraded to a "single-button" model. The longer the button is pressed, the harder the shot or pass. On defense, you only need to run into players to strip them of the ball (based on basic team skill attributes and positioning), but pressing the button will initiate a slide tackle.  This helps to greatly simplify the game-play to an extent (for me at least) and helps put emphasis on solid passing combinations to create scoring chances.

The ball sticks to the foot of the player in control (Sensible model, not Anco) and this makes for a relatively easy and fun way to zig-zag down the pitch, passing and dodging the "enemy" ala Messi.

It's the World Cup just without the name 

Simon has modeled the tournament portion of the game after this year's world cup, using the Fifa rankings of each team to create aggregate skill levels for the competition.


The Game In Action

After selecting the USA as my team I was treated to the above screen that let me skip through the other matches (seeing the scores) until my match came up on the schedule. Simon has added some wonderful South Africa inspired music (my wife was especially keen on this aspect of the game - the only aspect she appreciated as she has never played a game on a computer other than Tetris).


My first match against England came up and I was able to choose to change to the preferred white USA kit (they usually win in white and lose in blue, go figure).
Ed Note: or tie as we found out today.

I quickly was able to get the hang of the single-button control by racing down the pitch, passing once (using the nifty radar screen to find my nearest compatriot in white), rounding the keeper and placing a shot to the upper corner - "Fucking Awesome" was my response. 

The game ended USA 3, England 0 (in easy mode).

After this game I was able to take the USA to the finals and beat Brazil 4-1. The point here is that the skill of the player behind the joystick is much more important than the perceived skill levels usually modeled into games such as these.  This makes for some intense arcade footy action the likes of which I have not played since Kick Off 2 in 1990.

Before each match you have the choice of selection pre-created tactics
and formations or you can dive in and create your own. You also have the
ability to modify a host of toggles such as game speed, match length,
radar screen size, difficulty, and more from the options screen any time
(before or during a match).

If you enjoy a good arcade soccer game, especially if you remember classic over-head 2D 16-bit footy games from late '80s and early 90's, you will not be disappointed in Sensible World Soccer 2010.   At $6.99 it is quite a steal and worth 3X that price.


Sensational World Soccer 2010 game gets a 90% Retro-tastic!

Both native Mac and PC versions are available. Up to two players can duke it out footy style at the same machine with a variety of control options. My favorite was to use the Legacy Engineering Atari Retro 2600 stick.

Buy it online now.

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You too can "Hack the Pac". A guide to hacking the Google Pac-man Doodle

A month or so back Google celebrated Pac-Man's 30th anniversary by replacing the Google Doodle with a playable version of Pac-Man.

(click the image to play it in its new Google home)

Retrogaming Monthly has a nicely written article on how to create your own version of the  doodle by modifying the code. The authors of the game have generously posted the source code and (Javascript, HTML5, and Flash for sound) for any and all to see how it was created and the modify it to their hearts content.

The article explains the variables used to change game parameters so even a novice coder can try their had at a slightly hacked version of the game. I'd love to see those and especially what some more experienced developers might come up with.


Huw Collingbourne Of bitwise Magazine Really Likes The Essential Guide To Flash Games

Huw Collingbourne Of bitwise Magazine just posted his review of The Essential Guide To Flash Games.  He really liked it!  Here is my favorite quote:

"What a great book this is! Don't be deceived into thinking that, since
it is a book about games programming, it must necessarily be trivial.
It isn't. I've read many books on 'serious' programming topics that are
much less informative and well structured than this one.

Here is a link to the review: http://www.bitwisemag.com/2/The-Essential-Guide-to-Flash-Games


Nomen Ludi: Awesome Short Story About The Quest To Finish An 8-bit Computer Game

I was directed to the story Nomen Ludi By Rob Beschizz, a fictional short story about the quest and the meaning of trying to finish an 8-bit computer game.  Lost of great turns an imagery in this one, and also some really cool 8-bit game screens.  Read it here.

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Can I survive HTML5? Yes, and so can you

Can I survive HTML5? Yes, and so can you.

It took me a few months to finally crack open the beast, but while on a
little holiday vacation in California Wine country, I finally took the leap.
Steve has been dabbling in HTML 5 for the last couple months but I had not
started to look at it closely until this week. What I have found is an
interesting mix of the old and older and the new (which is not as new as it
seems as first).

Let's start with the old

JavaScript is old. I know there have been 100's of JavaScript libraries
written in the last 10 years, but JavaScript core 1.5 is essentially the exact
same language I used in 2000 when I created the first modern version of the
Hotwheels.com web site. Back then I was a senior web developer and I was sick
the table-based layouts we had been stuck with from 1995-1999 for web
development. The combination of CSS (IE was more standard than Netscape back
then, imagine that) and JavaScript allowed us to shed the static HTML 3.0
layouts we had been using and make up some cool interfaces with CSS, Div's, and
z-indexes using JavaScript to control everything with a pretty decent event

JavaScript is the language that fuels HTML5. I dropped web page development
in 2001 when I became a development manager and started to concentrate our team
on Flash and game development full time. So, when I decided to "re-discover" JavaScript again I found a language with a core pretty much un-changed over all
that time. Some new concepts such as a prototyped object model (exactly the same
as Actionscript 2 by the way) had been added but are not essential for making
use of the canvas (they do help though).

Now let's move on the the older

The HTML5 canvas is basically a blit canvas. After checking it out with a few
little demos it resembles working on an Atari ST or Amiga more than working in
Flash. There are very few options for working with canvas images, but what is
there is very easy to use. In fact, it is even easier than dealing with blitting
in Actionscript 3. I can import a tile sheet and place a "scroll-rect" 32x32
tile in 2 lines of code. No need to instantiate Rectangle and Point objects, no
need to copy each pixel, etc. Now, I have not worked with it enough to know how
these might limit what I currently plan to do with it, but only time and
practice will tell.  There certainly are options for applying matrix
operations on objects for scale and rotation as well as some graphics filters. I
have not tried to apply those to my imported images yet.  I have no idea if 
I will be able to rotate an imported image into 36 angles and place each into an
array for use during game-play. I will be testing that soon enough

The New

HTML5 has simplified much of what drove me nuts in HTML 4. The mime-type doc
type syntax has been modified to make it much easier to understand. They have
added new tags such as <header>, <footer>, <article>, <audio>, and <video> to
make page mark-up easier than ever. They have also added a slew of new API such
as drag and drop and offline database storage. 

The best "new" thing is the idea that you can take a part of the screen and
devote image operations. You basically add a <canvas> tag in HTML, give it an
"id" and then script to it. Obviously this isn't "new" because it is exactly
what Flash is doing, but for standards based HTML development it is quite new.
This allows you to use pretty much any development environment that you choose.
I find Dreameaver and MS Web Expression work very well, but notepad++, TextMate,
or any simple tool to create text files will do.

All of the browsers that support HTML 5 (Safari, Firefox, Chrome, etc) have
either built-in tools or easy plug-ins for debugging JavaScript, writing the
console (for trace actions, etc), and more. I'm not sure about profilers and
other advanced tools, but since the "compiler" is simply a web browser
interpreting code on the fly there certainly must be pre-existing useful tools
for this purpose.

This takes all of the "cost" out of developing applications. There are no
expensive tools to buy (similar to the Flex SDK). You only need a little
imagination to break out of the confines of the technology. Everyone who have
worked on web-based games, especially in Flash has had to do this for years so
there really is nothing new about it.

What's new is the chance to apply our skills to a new, unproven 
technology and see how far we can push it. These skills will be indispensable in
the near future as the technology matures. There's something special about this
that intrigues me and makes me want to see where this goes. 

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