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16Apr/110

Retro Scan Of The Week: Romox Games (1983)

This week's scan is a Romox microcomputer games advertisement from Analog magazine's Sept/Oct 1983 issue. The two games featured in the ad are Anteater and Typo (available in cartridge form for the Atari 8-bit, Commodore Vic-20 / 64, and TI 99/4A).

Romox started business in Campbell California in 1982 and lasted until 1985. During that time they produced over 100 titles for the Atari, Commodore, and Texas Instruments popular  home micro-computers.

I had not played either of these two titles before (at least not that I remember), so I fired up my Atari 800 emulator to test them out.

Ant-Eater is a Dig Dug style game with some added elements. You are an underground ant that must collect 4 sugar cubes from the surface of a picnic and bring them back to the your lair. You are chased by an ant-eater but are equipped with bombs that you can explode to trap  him. Like Dig Dug, there are also rocks that you can drop on the ant-eater. The graphics and sounds are good, but the music is very good. The game-play is actually quite unique and while it resembles Dig Dug visually, enough has been added to make it a fun experience of its own. I was never a big fan of Dig Dug, but I can see myself playing Ant-Eater again or even trying to make a Flash or HTML5 clone.

In Typo, the player needs to be able to type sets of letters quickly to move his/her on-screen character around a Pac-man style maze.  The faster the player types, the more his on-screen ship moves. If the ship doesn't navigate the maze quickly it wall be destroyed by the enemy chasing him.  This is a very early "Typing of the Dead" style game and actually fun and educational too boot. The graphics and sounds are very well done.

Romox is probably most famous  for having created the the re-programmable ECPC cartridge that was used to burn games and be re-used. These were available for almost every cartridge capable machine from the early 80's.  Tim McGuinness, one of the original inventors, has some nice pictures and information about ECPC Carts at his web site, as well as an in-depth tribute to the games and the people who created them.

Romox also has a Facebook page that you can view and "like".

(8bitjeff is Jeff D. Fulton)

15Sep/100

What ever happened to Steve Moraff?

His name might not spark wild-eyed fascination with many retro gaming enthusiasts, but Steve Moraff was a little bit of a legend in his own time. When we first got a PC (non-Atari machine) in the early 1990's, we jumped on the early CD-Rom craze.  The best use of CDs at that time was for "shovel-ware" compilations of share-ware games. One developer out-shined all but Apogee and Id. The developer's name  was Moraffware.  Started by Steve Moraff  in the mid-80's, Moraffware would pioneer shareware and especially the shareware  RPG genre on DOS machines.

As we plunged into the the various piles of shareware games we found on the shovel-ware cds, Steve Moraff's name kept surfacing on some very nice titles. He was one of the first developers anywhere to use SVGA graphics so his titles were always colorful and unique to play.

Moraff's Revenge was one of the first 3D RPGs on the PC Dos platform. These early PCs didn't have the raw speed on an Atari ST or Amiga, but Steve made some great games given the limitations of the hardware.

I remember some other various Moraff games such as a beautiful Arkanoid clone and probably the best Mahjongg game of its' time.  It seems that Steve has shifted his focus to Mahjongg almost entirely. His current site focuses of on this game type, but also has pages (and the ability to purchase) his classic RPG games:

Moraff's World

Moraff's revenge

and probably his best game,

Moraff's Dungeons of the Unforgiven

There is also a World Of Games link on his site that lists some of the other  classic and relatively recent games he has created.

It looks like Steve is doing well. I would certainly like to see some of his classic RPGs re-made for today's machines, but with DosBox or Boxster, the originals can still be enjoyed today.

(8bitjeff is Jeff D. Fulton)

   
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