The 8bitrocket Daily Inter-Web Mash-Up – May 12, 2011

Atari releases  the first update to Star Raiders in almost 20 years.
The original Star Raiders was one of the best 8-bit computers games of the golden-age and the main reason that over a Million Atari 400 and 800 systems were sold in 1979 and 1980.   This week, Atari released a new version for the XBox 360 Arcade (PC and PS3 to follow). We’ve played it, and while it is a decent game, it, like the re-done version of Yars Revenge from a couple months back, just doesn’t have the feel of the original. Maybe that isn’t fair because both the original Star Raiders and Yars Revenge were instant classics, and it is probably too much to assume that a lower budget XBox Live Arcade game would be able to pull off the same revolutionary game-play.

This new version of Star Raiders is a decent first person arcade space shooter that seems to lack the feel of flying through space that made  the original so revolutionary.  It isn’t a bad game though and it certainly is pretty.  The artwork is lush and it is obvious that a lot of time was spent making this look like a very cool, modern title. That might be the problem though.  Atari fans might be a little disappointed with the overall feel and the seeming lack of reverence (in some cases) to the original, but being a developer, I certainly can see the work and creativity that went into the title.

Our 8-bit Rocket opinion is that both the new Yar’s Revenge and Star Raiders are decent games, but lack the necessary familiar and retro evolved elements from their predecessors to pluck our retro heart strings.

Star Raiders is available to PC, XBox and PS3.

Replicating the Game Maker Choose() function in AS3
Via Skype last night, Ace The Super Villain and I were discussing how to replicate some of the functions he misses from Game Maker in AS3. The first example he gave me was a function called choose() that would randomly select a value from a passed in list and return the value.  The problem with creating a utility function like this is the strong typing in AS3. If the return value of the function is a discrete type, then the function becomes pretty much useless as a utility to be re-used. We discussed maybe having the function return a generic object or an array with the first element being the return value, but both of those seemed messy.  Here I have created a simple version where the return value uses the “*” syntax. I am unaware of the consequences of this (memory leaks, etc), but it seems to function very well. If anyone knows of a better way to do this or of a red flag this might produce, let me know.

Here is the Utility function (in a class called Utils):

package  {
  * ...
  * @author Jeff Fulton
  public class Utils {
    public static function choose(list:Array):* {
      return list[Math.floor(Math.random()*list.length)];

Here is an example of using this static function.  Notice that I have created a list of choices that contains many (OK 4) different distinct object types. Normally you would probably use a list of the same type of custom class or object, but I wanted to demonstrate the flexibility.

var testArray:Array = [true, "Help", { x:1, y:2 },
                       new Sprite()];

The trace will show a return value that is any one of the four different types. Constructed and used this way, this function might prove to be a very flexible, useful tool.

Just Plain Cool
-Make a Batman Utility Belt at home with these tips. (truTV)

Did you know that Greece once banned all video games + 5 other odd things that have been banned by governments. (Cracked)

Watch lightening hit a jet above London (Yahoo)

– Wired discusses classic Game Boy games that it would like to see in the 3DS e-shop. (Wired)

– Something else cool from Wired, a hands-on review of the new Chromebook – The Samsung Series 5. (Wired)

The 8bitrocket Daily Inter-Web Mash-up Briefing is compiled and edited by both Jeff D. Fulton and Steve A. Fulton. We cover the world of retro games, new games, indie games, Flash / Web games, game coding, the toy industry, and anything else we find cool. Send news items that you would like covered to info[at]8bitrocket[dot]com

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