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Retro Gaming Hacks

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the dust-off-the-2600 dept.


Craig Maloney writes "It's hard to imagine that over 35 years ago, video games were relegated to large computer rooms with a small dedicated computer following. With the explosion of the video game industry, characters like Pac Man, Donkey Kong, and Mario have achieved a cultural celebrity status. There has been a lot of interest lately in Classic Games and the Classic Gaming era. From the efforts of books like Supercade and Leonard Herman's "Rolenta Press" offerings, to sites such as Digital Press, AtariAge, and Good Deal Games, classic games are once again capturing the hearts and minds of those who experienced classic games first hand, and those experiencing classic games for the first time. Retro Gaming Hacks is a treat for both retro gaming enthusiasts and the retro-curious wondering what all the fuss was about." Read the rest of Craig's review.

Retro Gaming Hacks is another entry in O' Reilly's "Hacks" Series, The "Hacks" Series is an ever-growing set of books with focused attention on a particular topic, like Astronomy, Mental Improvement, or even Halo 2. Each book contains article-length "hacks" of varying difficulty. Some of these hacks may even involve taking the cover off of some electronic device and voiding the warranty on the device. The format allows for quick reference to a particular topic, and the authors present a casual, expert discussion about the topic.

Retro Gaming Hacks begins with a chapter on acquiring actual classic gaming hardware. No matter how good emulators get, there is no experience like playing a classic game on the hardware it was designed to be played on. The author describes the places one can go to pick up hardware, and gives good advice for potential consumers on what to look for and what to avoid when making the final purchase. Next the book discusses a few classic console systems in detail, starting with the grand-daddy of them all: the Magnavox Odyssey, and continuing with the myriad of Pong clones available. After the Odyssey, the book features the game system that defined classic gaming for a generation: the Atari 2600. The author is a bit critical of the system and the games, preferring the Colecovision instead, but the overview of the Atari 2600 is a good introduction to the hardware and some notable games for the system (although I would have omitted mentioning Coleco's dreadful port of Donkey Kong in favor of Pitfall or the incredible Solaris). Other "Golden Era" systems are briefly mentioned, including the Mattel Intellivision, Coleco's Colecovision, the Atari 5200 and 7800, and GCE's Vectrex. The author continues the hardware discussion with several pages on the Nintendo Entertainment System, with several pages on the NES and it's Japanese counterpart: the Famicom. Hack #6 describes the process for repairing the "toaster" NES systems, while the latter part of Hack #5 includes a description of the interesting Neo-Fami adapter for the Game Boy Advance. Also included in the chapter are tips for buying full arcade games as well as JAMMA cabinets. The chapter rounds out with a description of the Holy Grails of classic gaming. (If you find any of these, please send them my way. Thanks!)

The next chapter describes the cheaper way of playing lots of classic games in one location. Many manufacturers have introduced "X in one" TV game systems, which contain one or more controllers, that hooks up to a standard television. The author provides a very comprehensive list of the currently available "X in one" game collections, pointing out the pluses and minuses of each in great detail. Similarly, the synopsis of the classic gaming collections for modern consoles is very thorough (although I'm uncertain if the issue the author raises about the Pac Man patterns relates to a conscious reprogramming of the games, or the differences between the Midway released versions of Pac Man versus the original Namco versions). Ending the chapter is a series of tips for finding hidden classics in current console games (easter eggs), like the arcade Star Wars games in Rebel Assault III, or the hidden NES titles in Animal Crossing. There were several games I wasn't unaware were hidden, and the author helps the search by providing details of how to find each one.

The mid-section of Retro Gaming Hacks darts back and forth between classic game and computer emulation on modern hardware, and restoring classic computers to functioning status. Chapter 3 discusses MAME, and the various interfaces for running MAME. Installing MAME under Windows, Macintosh, and Linux is covered in depth, as are several graphical interfaces for using MAME under each platform. There are also pointers for running MAME on the x box, as well as creating a self-booting MAME CD. There's even mention of the rather odd project known as LASER-MAME (think vector-based games like Asteroids played using LASERs). Lest we think of MAME as just a way to play semi-legal arcade games, the book has pointers to several legal arcade ROMs, such as Gridlee, Robby Roto, Poly Play, and several homebrew arcade games. There are also tips for purchasing legal ROMs, as well as tips for caring for your ROM collection. No section on MAME could be complete without discussing arcade controllers, and Retro Gaming Hacks includes pointers to the Hot Rod, X-Arcade and Slik Stik, as well as a how-to for creating your own controllers from scratch. Chapter four continues with emulations for many classic console game systems using MESS. Also covered in this chapter are several methods for copying games to actual hardware, as well as several emulators for PDAs and Smart Phones. Chapter five continues with classic computers, both in getting the actual hardware running optimally, and in emulating the hardware on modern machines. (There's even a section on getting the Atari 8bit computers running on a Dreamcast). Chapter 6 tackles text adventures, with a healthy section on the INFORM engine from Infocom (with a hack on how to write your own INFORM games. Too cool!) Chapter 7 deals with everyone's favorite gaming operating system DOS, from getting FreeDOS running on actual hardware, to using the "why waste a whole system on DOS" alternative, DOSBox. (And just in case you wanted to develop some games in DOS, there's several hacks for doing just that, too). There's an incredible amount of information in these chapters, with just about every game system imaginable covered. (Yes, even the incredibly crappy RCA Studio II).

Rounding out the book are sections covering creating your own games. There's a brief bit of information on creating retro-style games in Flash and SDL, as well as sections for developing on the Atari 2600 and the Game boy Advance. While this section could easily be covered in separate books, the authors do an admirable job of creating a good introduction to the tools required to start developing your own games.

Lest a book on retro gaming concludes without some game hints, Retro Gaming Hacks finishes off with the pattern from Pac Man, the minus world from Super Mario, and some tricks for Leisure Suit Larry. The Pac Man pattern is only for the first half of the first level, but it does work. (All in the name of research. :) )

Retro Gaming Hacks is a book that I can't say enough about. I'm one of the co-organizers for CinciClassic, and am relatively active in the classic gaming community. I can heartily recommend this book for anyone from the casual newbie to the classic gaming junkie. The resources mentioned in the book are the same resources I would recommend to anyone to satiate their classic gaming curiosity. While some may scoff and say there's plenty of gaming resources available online, Retro Gaming Hacks provides a great resource for finding things you weren't even looking for. (I know I would never have thought to emulate an Atari 800 on my Dreamcast, nor would I have ever thought that I didn't need to gut a keyboard in order to make my own MAME controller). There's something for every gamer, whether you were weaned on the Coleco Telstar arcade, or began your journey with Ultima IV. Retro Gaming Hacks is a fun book and I highly recommend to anyone who has even a remote interest in classic gaming.

(This review was written before CinciClassic 2006 occurred. I was so impressed with the book that I asked O' Reilly if they'd send a few copies for CinciClassic 2006. Their sponsorship of CinciClassic in no way swayed the reviewer or the review.)"

You can purchase Retro Gaming Hacks from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Anything Left (1)

shawngarringer (906569) | more than 7 years ago | (#15206702)

Anything left in the book the reivew didn't cover? Pretty long review if you ask me.

Re:Anything Left (2, Informative)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207027)

Bah...just get an old cabinet, set up a MAME [mame.net] or XMame [mame.net] box on it....do a little custom control hack and your playing the old original ROMS of the games....

I still get worn out playing ROBOTRON, arguably one of the best games ever...

Oh, here a neat link for control ideas [arcadecontrols.com] ...

Re:Anything Left (Robotron) (1)

Announcer (816755) | more than 7 years ago | (#15209025)

I used to be able to play Robotron for two hours on a single quarter! I'd have to start crashing into things to stop the score at 9,999,975 or it would roll over to 0. The best game I ever had, I had to crash 81 times to end it. In the arcades that allowed the 20 letter signature for the top scorer, I would put "Flash is Awesome".

I actually had calluses on my hands from the joystick handles! (Hey, I was a teen- I had no life!)

One arcade set the difficulty of the game to high... I remember being startled at how much more difficult it was to play! I also remember the guys behind the counter laughing at me, because my game ended much sooner than it had the last time I was there! (I also was ticked that my high score was gone!) So, I plunked in another token, and got busy. In spite of the much higher difficulty, I was able to rack up over 7 million points. Those guys weren't laughing anymore! ;) I was pouring sweat, but it was a satisfying feeling to put those guys in their place! (It also drew a bit of a crowd watching me struggle with it, and still get a good score.) That was my worst game, once I had mastered it.

Ah, memories!

cayenne8, what was your best ever Robotron game? :)

Re:Anything Left (1)

tropicflite (319208) | more than 7 years ago | (#15209547)

There's nothing to argue about... Robotron still IS the best shoot 'em up game ever made, and I still play it today with my kids via MAME.

If there's one game that comes even close, though, it's got to be Stargate.

Thank you Vid Kids Eugene Jarvis and Larry DeMar, wherever you are.

Re:Anything Left (1)

clydemaxwell (935315) | more than 7 years ago | (#15208050)

I want to know if there are things the BOOK didn't cover -- I bet they don't consider adventure games from LucasArts et al 'retro'.
Speaking of hidden games, things like finding 'Maniac Mansion' inside 'Day of the Tentacle' made my day when I first played it. I actually kept the minigame longer than the original game (since the former fit on a floppy, unlike the latter)

Brings back memories .... (5, Insightful)

IflyRC (956454) | more than 7 years ago | (#15206706)

of a Coke, Commodore 64, 2 1541 drives banging drive heads while listening to the music of "Fast Hack'em" copying 5 1/4" diskettes.

Re:Brings back memories .... (3, Funny)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 7 years ago | (#15206757)

Bah. Your slashdot userid is too high to remember that. Unless... unless... you were *conceived* during such an ecstatic moment.

Re:Brings back memories .... (1)

IflyRC (956454) | more than 7 years ago | (#15206799)

Nah, my first ID just has karma so bad in the basement it's never coming out :)

Re:Brings back memories .... (2, Funny)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 7 years ago | (#15206825)

Alas, I gave her Space Taxi and Boulderdash, yet she left me for another geek. I will find you one day, my son.


Re:Brings back memories .... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#15206870)

Bah. I once had a five-digit uid but I lost it and now I have no idea where it went. I also had a seven digit ICQ UIN, but no one cares about ICQ now.

Re:Brings back memories .... (2, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207365)

I once had a five-digit uid but I lost it and now I have no idea where it went.


I waited for it to be worth bothering creating a Slashdot account. The first posters were the reason I finally bothered. Idiocy-aversion is the mother of all invention.

Re:Brings back memories .... (1)

Fordiman (689627) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207018)

Perhaps he, like myself, was an anonymous coward until recently.

For example, I can remember a Coke, a Commodore 64, and 2 1541 drives banging out the music of "Fast Hack'em".

Subtle difference.

Re:Brings back memories .... (1)

HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) | more than 7 years ago | (#15208391)

All I had was a TRS-80. kid down the street had a C64 though. He also had better Transformers. That BASTARD!!!!

Re:Brings back memories .... (1)

dragon (283) | more than 7 years ago | (#15208036)

Some of us do remember - but this ID is only from 1998 or so anyway, well after my C64 was forgotten and Quake, etc took over ;)

What a bunch of pathetic bs (2, Funny)

ScorpioIlya (651798) | more than 7 years ago | (#15208322)

Fantastic.... Now all the 30-40'year old life-long nerds will come out of the woodwork, realizing that those stupid games represented the best thing that ever happened to them, since shortly after that, they started smoking weed, and ended up in mediocre jobs with ugly wives, looking fat and bald, and that IT DIDN'T FUCKING HAPPEN FOR YOU BUDDY, and ITS ALL YOUR FAULT. Now its time for you all to talk about who'se more old school. God I feel sorry for your children who get to try to look up to a bunch of has beens who are stuck in a 30 year old reality.

Re:Brings back memories .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15206999)

A friend of mine had one of the first Pong clones. We hooked it up to a 1/2" EIA-J reel-to-reel VTR and recorded about a half hour of intentionally inept play. Then at a party, hid the VTR in another room, and halfway through the evening unplugged the Pong controller, plugged in the VTR and let the tape play. People continued to "play" the game, oblivious to the fact that their frantic controller movements had no effect on what was happening on the screen. Ah, the practical jokes you could play with video in those pre-home-VTR days...

No Assembly? (1)

frizzantik (944615) | more than 7 years ago | (#15208358)

Am I the only one who was suprised there was no mention of assembly language in a review about retro gaming hacks?

Re:Brings back memories .... (1)

MayorDefacto (586113) | more than 7 years ago | (#15209722)

of a Coke, Commodore 64, 2 1541 drives banging drive heads while listening to the music of "Fast Hack'em" copying 5 1/4" diskettes.

Jeez, I missed one single letter, and I imagined you coked out of your mind, holepunch fimly in hand, making stacks and stacks of double-sided 5 1/4" disks...

Good times, good times...

I did a small hack myself... (4, Informative)

AtariDatacenter (31657) | more than 7 years ago | (#15206764)

I made a few hacks on Tempest....

I made the Open Level Selection Hack [ionpool.net] and also unlocked the maximum men bonus from 6 to 255. (Changed ROMs available here [ionpool.net].)

The toughest part was getting around the CRC protection on the ROMs. You'd think it'd be simple, but Atari really hid the code to that pretty well. In the end, I got it figured out how to bypass the code by simply changing an unused byte elsewhere to what I needed.

I also documented a bit about Tempest [ionpool.net] and its source code. Others have since built on the work. Lots of neat stuff in there.

Re:I did a small hack myself... (1)

Asshat Canada (804093) | more than 7 years ago | (#15206787)

My hack was tying a piece of thread around a quarter and racking up free credits - actually I think that only worked on Tempest at my local arcade - god I miss the 80's

Favorite 2600 hack: (5, Interesting)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 7 years ago | (#15206806)

My brother and I would rapidly switch the console off then on. Or sometimes carefully pull the cartridge out. 19 times out of 20, it would crash the game. But sometimes you'd get something entirely new. Pac-Man was the best for this. The colors might change, the sounds might change, but sometimes the mazes or even the gameplay would change. Our favorite version was when every time you moved, you automatically powered up and all the ghosts would come find you. Big time scores! Or the time all the pellets turned to power pellets. Ah, such fun!

Teh ony thing that ever came close was undeleting SimCity 1 saved games. A city with 1 million people that burns to the ground in a matter of minutes, leaving a charred ruin.

But alas, my "programming technique" never seemed to work on anything but those two instances.

Re:Favorite 2600 hack: (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#15206876)

My original Dragon Warrior cart had a habit of not entirely overwriting saved games when you saved over an old one as long as you used the same name. I got it to start the quest with 66535 gold, the princess in my arms, and 0hp.

Re:Favorite 2600 hack: (2, Funny)

rubberbando (784342) | more than 7 years ago | (#15206992)

I used to do this on my Commodore VIC-20 with the text adventure cartridges. I would play part of one and then carefully swap the cartridges. Sometimes the machine would freeze, other times I'd find myself in a strange world where everything was mixed around. I would have items in my inventory that normally couldn't be carried. Room descriptions would have lines from all sorts of different rooms. Using room exits would send you to all sorts of bizzare places, sometimes you'd end up inside your own inventory. It was pretty crazy. :P

Re:Favorite 2600 hack: (2, Informative)

NewmanBlur (923584) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207460)

Actually there were a bunch of cart-swapping tricks for the Sega Genesis. I rememember one you could do to get the Japanese title screen for the Revenge of Shinobi. This is bringing back memories of GamePro magazine...

A quick Google search revealed this [sega-16.com] seemingly comprehensive list.

Re:Favorite 2600 hack: (2, Insightful)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207554)

"Pac-Man was the best for this"

At least it was good for something then....

2600 Pacman had to be the most disappointing game ever.
My brother and I saved up our paper route money, bottle and can deposits, etc, preordered the game, waited about a month for it, popped it in and "WTF is this? You call *THIS* PACMAN?!?!"

I was always amazed at how Activision games had such awesome graphics (by 1980 standards), and some of Atari's very own programmers couldn't code their way out of a paper bag.

Re:Favorite 2600 hack: (1)

Craig Maloney (1104) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207706)

Actually, Activision was formed by Atari programmers, so Atari programmers *could* program their way out of a paper bag. Unfortunately the problem with Pac Man was not the coder's fault, but the bean counter's fault. Pac Man would have been just fine had Atari not rushed the game to production, and had they used Todd's original plan of twice the ROM than the cartidge had. The programmers were quite capable, but the marketing department made some truly boneheaded maneuvers.

Re:Favorite 2600 hack: (1)

gozar (39392) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207834)

2600 Pacman had to be the most disappointing game ever. My brother and I saved up our paper route money, bottle and can deposits, etc, preordered the game, waited about a month for it, popped it in and "WTF is this? You call *THIS* PACMAN?!?!"

Too bad I can't remember it, but my brothers and I had worked out a flawless pattern for 2600 Pacman. We played the same game for hours, that is, until the score flipped. Then we realized that there was no way to ever prove how high a score we got. Our quest for Pacman glory ended that evening... :-(

Re:Favorite 2600 hack: (1)

nra1871 (836627) | more than 7 years ago | (#15208125)

2600 Pacman had to be the most disappointing game ever.
You apparently never played ET. All you did is fall into pits. Over and over again. Atari buried thousands in a landfill they were so bad.

Re:Favorite 2600 hack: (1)

frogstar_robot (926792) | more than 7 years ago | (#15208475)

2600 Pacman had to be the most disappointing game ever. My brother and I saved up our paper route money, bottle and can deposits, etc, preordered the game, waited about a month for it, popped it in and "WTF is this? You call *THIS* PACMAN?!?!"

Some enterprising homebrew coders have taken it upon themselves to rectify the Pac-Man situation on the 2600.

There's "Mr. Pac-Man" which is a hack OF a hack of Ms. Pacman.

http://www.atariage.com/hack_page.html?SystemID=26 00&SoftwareHackID=146 [atariage.com]

Pac-Man Plus was one of the later variants of Pac-Man. I believe it was a "conversion" used to make the investment in an arcade cab last longer. Somebody hacked 2600 Ms. Pac-Man into a passable version of it.

http://www.atariage.com/hack_page.html?SystemID=26 00&SoftwareHackID=151 [atariage.com]

Nukey Shay at AtariAge wondered how far the ORIGINAL codebase for 2600 Pac-Man could be pushed. 2600 Pac-Man was a 4k rom. Nukey's hack is a bank-switched 8k rom. It still has the goofy maze but the colors are correct. The "Bread And Butter" has been replaced by Cherries, Strawberries, and so-forth. I believe it has the siren and other aspects of the game have been corrected. Scroll down to the bottom of this. It is attached to a forum posting.

http://www.atariage.com/forums/index.php?showtopic =54937&st=150&p=955745&#entry955745 [atariage.com]

Re:Favorite 2600 hack: (1)

Dmala (752610) | more than 7 years ago | (#15209894)

2600 Pacman had to be the most disappointing game ever.

Sad to say, this was the first Pac Man I ever knew. I was too young to really go to arcades until a few years later, so watching my Dad play 2600 Pac Man was pretty much my first exposure to video games. It's a miracle I'm a gamer at all.

I used to have anxiety attacks playing ET, too. I always assumed it was *my* fault ET kept falling in those damned pits. It never occurred to me until I was older that it was just a crap game.

Re:Favorite 2600 hack: (1)

Beltway Prophet (453247) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207775)

This technique is called "frying" in the Atari 2600 (VCS) realm, and the last two point releases of Stella (the 2600 emulator) have included support for simulated frying.

wonderings (3, Interesting)

celardore (844933) | more than 7 years ago | (#15206820)

I wonder if my children will play something like San Andreas just for the antique novelty value. I can even imagine digging out my old N64 for some Goldeneye to play with my children.

That will be fun. But what will pacman mean to my children / grandchildren?

Re:wonderings (1)

panthro (552708) | more than 7 years ago | (#15206861)

But what will pacman mean to my children / grandchildren?

Kids still play with yo-yos and hula hoops.

Re:wonderings (1)

MayorDefacto (586113) | more than 7 years ago | (#15209766)

Kids still play with yo-yos and hula hoops.

Hey kids of America, it's hand-painted wooden ball-in-a-cup, Mexico's favorite toy for over 340 years. Who needs constant video game stimulation when there's ball-in-a-cup? You just toss the ball, catch it in the cup, dump it out of the cup, toss it, and catch it in the cup again. The ball is on a string and attached to the cup, so there's no worry if you dont catch the ball in the cup. And clean up is as easy as catching a ball, in a cup. So why spend another day not catching a ball in a cup when you can be catching a ball-in-a-cup?"

Jingle:" Ball in a cup, Ball in a cup its a ball in a cup!"

Kid: "Ball in a cup!"

Jingle: "Ball in a cup"

Re:wonderings (1)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 7 years ago | (#15206895)

I think some old games have lasting value. Do you think your grandchildren will live in a world with checkers, chess, card games? A well-designed game can have endless capability for entertainment despite simple rules, low-tech graphics and no sequel recognition or movie tie-ins.

It's sad that nothing today fires my imagination as much as M.U.L.E. and galaga did back in the day.

Re:wonderings (1)

Dmala (752610) | more than 7 years ago | (#15209957)

I think some old games have lasting value. Do you think your grandchildren will live in a world with checkers, chess, card games? A well-designed game can have endless capability for entertainment despite simple rules, low-tech graphics and no sequel recognition or movie tie-ins.

I definitely have to agree with this. Having MAME and being able to play through literally 30 years of arcade history, I can say that there were a lot of crap games, and a lot of games that have aged very badly, including quite a few that were super hot quarter-suckers in their day. But there are probably about a dozen or so, Pacman being one, that are timeless and stand up as well today as they did 20 years ago. I can easily see these games sticking around in one form or another for a long time to come.

Re:wonderings (1)

El_Smack (267329) | more than 7 years ago | (#15206945)

"That will be fun. But what will pacman mean to my children / grandchildren?"

I collect coin op games, and my most popular game with kids under 10 is Ms. Pac-Man. They get the concept and the controls are simple.
The older kids want to play newer games on my MAME cabinet, like Metal Slug and Mortal Kombat, but the young kids love the simple classics.

My point is, a fun game is a fun game, even if it's old and even if it has no significance to you.

Re:wonderings (1)

The Barking Dog (599515) | more than 7 years ago | (#15208212)

That will be fun. But what will pacman mean to my children / grandchildren?

I have a three-year-old son. He loves playing the games on my Namco Museum Gamecube disc, including Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man (my all-time favorite game). The answer's simple: If the games mean something to you and you share with them, they'll mean something to your children.

Don't forget Vector Mame (2, Informative)

El_Smack (267329) | more than 7 years ago | (#15206857)

Vector Mame [zektor.com]

Because playing vector games on a raster monitor makes Baby Jesus cry.

OT:Sig (1)

dextromulous (627459) | more than 7 years ago | (#15206972)

There are 01 kinds of cars in the world. The General Lee, and everything else.
Thank goodness someone else out there realizes that the standard form of that joke using "10 kinds of _____" refers to not two, but three types of _____.

Re:OT:Sig (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207284)

Thank goodness someone else out there realizes that the standard form of that joke using "10 kinds of _____" refers to not two, but three types of _____.

I don't get it, why would 10 represent three types? We're counting, not listing array indices or memory addresses.

Re:OT:Sig (1)

dextromulous (627459) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207380)

I don't get it, why would 10 represent three types? We're counting, not listing array indices or memory addresses.
When you're counting in binary and you aren't starting at zero, there's a damn good chance you're doing it wrong.

Re:OT:Sig (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#15208151)

We are talking abou the number of items here! If you want 00 to mean one item, what would you use to represent zero items? 11 (for two bits)? Again, we're counting not labeling.

Re:OT:Sig (1)

B_Realll (957738) | more than 7 years ago | (#15208459)

Wow. You might want to check on your binary to decimal converter. 10 in binary is 2 in decimal. If you are referring to the possible number of values in a 2-bit number you are still wrong (0-3 = 4 possible, not 3). Reminds me of the guy I saw on Who Wants to be a Millionaire that missed the $200 question of "How many legs does a tripod have?"

Re:OT:Sig (1)

dextromulous (627459) | more than 7 years ago | (#15208538)

If you don't get it, you probably aren't going to get it. 'nuff said.

Re:OT:Sig (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#15208702)

uh, I believe you are the one who does not get it. 00 = zero 01 = one 10 = two as you yourself pointed out: "When you're counting in binary and you aren't starting at zero, there's a damn good chance you're doing it wrong."

Re:OT:Sig (1)

MayorDefacto (586113) | more than 7 years ago | (#15209778)

Reminds me of the best bar urinal grafitti I ever saw: "There are 10 kinds of people in this world: those who understand binary, and those who don't."

Nearly pissed on myself laughing...

Re:OT:Sig (0)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207454)

00, 01 & 10...

Re:OT:Sig (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 7 years ago | (#15208954)

So when I say there are two types of things in the world I really mean three? 0, 1, 2.

Re:OT:Sig (1)

vialation (885786) | more than 7 years ago | (#15209150)

Think about what that would be in decimal. Thats like saying "There are 2 types of people _____", and saying that means there are three types of people because thats "0, 1 and 2". While you start counting at 0...you start counting from 0 in decimal as well.

Re:OT:Sig (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 7 years ago | (#15210023)

Saying there are 10(base2) types of people in the world those that x and those that don't isn't counting. I'm saying, and mean there are TWO types of people, not 3 because I started counting, but 2(base10) because I am stating an absolute value. Try and buy tires for your car by asking for 3. You asked for the right number of tires right? You want tires 0, 1, 2 and 3. Have fun driving out though.

On top of that you do not always start counting at 0. Think back to number systems in elementary math. The whole number system starts at 1.

Re:Don't forget Vector Mame (1)

Tuffsnake (767507) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207197)

OMFG, does anyone here remember the vector arcade game "RIPOFF"??

If you want to get an idea of what hell is like try playing that game more than 1 time in succession...

Re:Don't forget Vector Mame (1)

mockchoi (678525) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207209)

Do you have a cabinet with an actual vector monitor? If so, I'm VERY jealous.

Retro date (2, Funny)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 7 years ago | (#15206892)

c:\prince> prince megahit

[Shift L]
[Shift L]
[Shift L]
[Shift L]
[Shift L]
[Shift L]
[Shift L]
[Shift L]
[Shift L]
*kiss princess*
The End.

Re:Retro date (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15209126)

duuuuude you can't post that on teh intarnetz! didn't u hear about the retro-coffee mod they made for that? u could get thrown out of walmart for that shit!

There's a reason why retro games are popular... (4, Insightful)

raddan (519638) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207173)

... and I doubt that it's because "retro" is "in". Back in the day, we always wanted better graphics, etc. But the thing that kept us coming back to those games was gameplay.

I believe that the vast majority of games nowadays-- the mindless shooters-- are so popular because, well, most people are mindless. If you want a great, absorbing game, take a look at the classics: Rogue (and its text-based bretheren), SimCity, Civilization (shit, ANY game from Sid Meier), Myst, Spaceward Ho! and a whole slew of great shareware from the 80's and 90's. I'm sure I missed a bunch. Anyway, there's a big reason I keep coming back to Spiderweb Software and Ambrosia Software's stuff, despite the lack of state-of-the-art graphics: these are great games. When you didn't have graphics, you had to rely on imaginative worlds and gameplay to sell a game.

Re:There's a reason why retro games are popular... (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207354)

I would say that a lot of the benefit from old games was that they are small. A lot of modern games take a good weekend of solid playing just to get into, and a lot more to complete. Often I just want a game I can pick up and relax with for 5-10 minutes, and retro games (or little flash games) fill that niche nicely.

Re:There's a reason why retro games are popular... (1)

Laserwolf01 (930649) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207387)

like StarCon 2 or god help us if it EVER makes it to the PC in some form.... M.U.L.E.

Re:There's a reason why retro games are popular... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15207455)

M.U.L.E. was one of those games my friends and I enjoyed because it was a non-shoot 'em game that four of us could play simultaneously. It has a great combination and balance of luck and skill as well as simplicity and complexity.

Re:There's a reason why retro games are popular... (1)

Malakusen (961638) | more than 7 years ago | (#15208146)

And here I thought I was the only person whose played all the Exile games. Exile 3 was my favorite.

Re:There's a reason why retro games are popular... (1)

1iar_parad0x (676662) | more than 7 years ago | (#15209835)

It's not that players have become mindless, it's that gaming has become more pervasive. Your average teenager wasn't about to fire up a C64 or play a MUD in Unix. Gaming has become a form of mass-media. In many ways, especially in terms of money, it's like Hollywood. Frankly, I hope gaming on the PC doesn't die. Even when I was a kid with a Nintendo, all of the 'interesting' games were on the PC. Okay, it was on the Amiga -- but you get my point!

Vectrex? (1)

Lester67 (218549) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207202)

Wow. There is an obscure blast from the past. If I didn't have one sitting in my garage, I would have thought I dreamed that entire platform.



Re:Vectrex? (1)

popo (107611) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207400)

Who could forget the genius of colored plastic screen overlays in order to make the game have "colors"... awesome.

so, you might say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15207314)

all your hacks
are belong to us

I have this book... (1)

larsoncc (461660) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207330)

For what it's worth, I've read through Retrogaming Hacks, and can recommend it as strongly as the author of the review.

I was really surprised to see this on the main page - I thought I was about the only person out there to have heard about it.

Not only is Chris Kohler a fantastic writer, the list of contributers for RGH is rather large and distinguished.

Whether or not the book really qualifies as "Hacks" is one thing, but I can say that the material is really in-depth, and fun to read.

Because it's divided into small, easily digestible sections, it's a nice book for when you have a few minutes at a time.

If you're like me - ADD, nostalgic, obsessive about games, and pressed for time, it's a very cool book.

If you're expecting anything truly useful about hard core hardware mods, it's probably not the book you're looking for.

Re:I have this book... (1)

iapetus (24050) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207418)

the list of contributers for RGH is rather large and distinguished

They're not all that distinguished, of course. Some of them are complete nobodies who are likely to be eaten by a grue...

Inform (1)

Fairweather (847895) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207515)

To clarify, Inform [inform-fiction.org] wasn't Infocom's engine - they used a their own, completely different language to generate their interactive fiction story files. Inform is a language developed separately (and much later) by Graham Nelson, which also outputs story files readable by the Infocom virtual machine, effectively allowing anyone to create their own Infocom interactive fiction.

For further reference (1)

Slithe (894946) | more than 7 years ago | (#15208867)

The Z-Machine was the virtual machine that ran the first Zork (maybe the rest?). The Zork Trilogy was written in ZIL, the Zork Implementation Language.

emulators for xbox - the ULTIMATE in old school. (2, Informative)

ka0sx (971008) | more than 7 years ago | (#15207754)

lets not forget that almost every single system is emulated on xbox... that makes playing any rom from any system a matter of choosing the emulator from the dash and picking a rom... all from the comfort of your recliner, and your big screen TV!

scorched earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15207770)

I rember back in borading school, a friend of mine and i connect our two machines 386 n 486sx together with a phone cable. We simulated a dial tone, and started playing video games while we were locked away in our rooms for two hours every night (some times reffered to as study hall) The game we would play was Scorched Earth. That game rocks

Romhacking.net (1)

Gavin86 (856684) | more than 7 years ago | (#15208835)

I figured I would take this opportunity to whore out Romhacking.net [romhacking.net], a retro game hacking/translation resource. It features community member databases, message boards, utility and document resources, user driven news and submissions. It's a pretty well place.

C64 Strip Poker hack (2, Funny)

PaganRitual (551879) | more than 7 years ago | (#15208864)

It was a masterpiece.

I renamed the last file in the list to the first file in the list, and vice versa. Continue this until the order of the files are reversed.

Start the game, and hey presto, she starts off naked. If you want to get her really skimpy just make her lose $100 once, and she puts on just the tiniest bit of clothing. You know, for the people that like that sort of thing.

This was an interesting hack. A really interesting hack. A REALLY REALLY interesting hack.

And then, suddenly, I wasn't so interested.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15208898)

To quote a famous Monty Python sketch: "Hello, I'd like to register a complaint".

"It's hard to imagine that over 35 years ago, video games were relegated to large computer rooms with a small dedicated computer following."

What's actually harder to imagine is a sentence that could make less sense, especially to those that were alive then.

As I recall, dedicated video game machines, such as Space Invaders, originally found lodging in arcades, where I spent far too much time as a teenager.

The game consoles that became available roughly around the same time (a few years later, I'd imagine - much time has passed, and I'm too lazy to look up the details), such as the Atari 2600, weren't actually all that large. Those that bought them tended to put them in the living room or family room - I don't recall anyone ever referring to those rooms as the "large computer room", or even the "computer room" - some people had home offices, far fewer than today, but the game consoles weren't generally put there. The personal computers that followed, however, were - I remember going to a friend's house in 1981, and playing Zork on the Apple II in his father's home office. His father had bought it for his business (He was an accountant, and VisiCalc was a huge time saver for him), but bought games for it as well.

No matter how hard I try, I simply cannot make sense of "a small dedicated computer following".

Remember when Pizza = video games? (1)

peter Payne (947429) | more than 7 years ago | (#15209436)

Anyone remember when going to a pizza restaurant (like, gasp, Shakey's) was cool because they'd have video games there? I remember playing the original Atari Starship (think that's what it was called), and being amazed by the flashy Epilepsy-inducing graphics. Remember Space (two vector ships shooting at each other with a gravity star in the center of the screen). Remember the thrill of walking past a Berzerk machine and having it say "Coin detected in pocket!"

Ah, I'm geeking out here...

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over? (1)

Craig Maloney (1104) | more than 7 years ago | (#15209819)

Hello, I'm the author of that sentence. Perhaps I can help. :)

What I was trying to get at was over 35 years ago, the only video games were played on large computers. Computer Space wasn't in the arcades yet, and Ralph Baer's pong machine was not yet commercially released.

That's what I was referring to.

Simplicity (3, Interesting)

VGfort (963346) | more than 7 years ago | (#15209141)

Not having to hit the A button 50times to get through the mandatory back story of the game. I swear I hate games that dont let you just skip that stuff. My favorite game would have to be Star Raiders on the 2600. It had unique consequences for failed systems, if you shields were damaged they would flicker on and off, if photons were hurting you might fire one out of one side or it might fire every so presses, if the engines were damaged you couldnt hyperwarp and they sounded damaged. I've yet to find any other space fighting games as fun and simple as that game, I end up spinning around in 360degrees just trying to find a enemy to fight.

Not a gaming hack as such... (1)

marko123 (131635) | more than 7 years ago | (#15209142)

I used to squawk into my 300 baud acoustic coupler modem to try to "hack" a connection to another computer.

Guess it's up there with the game cartridge hacks (which I used to do on my Atari 800)

What its missing... (1)

kn0tw0rk (773805) | more than 7 years ago | (#15209910)

is what i found in one of the retro gaming magazines a while ago, that being something like a geneology tree of the various gaming genres. So you could see what games were inspired by others and how the genre changed over time.

For example there was a tree for one-on-one fighting games: with Way of the Exploding Fist, Internation Karate and Barbarian with it branching out to Tekken, Mortal Kombat and Soul Calibur.

But otherwise the book sounds quite interesting and I'll probably try to find it.

I miss my 2600 (2, Interesting)

max1m (465205) | more than 7 years ago | (#15210148)

Emulators and new consoles just aren't the same. There was something about the aesthetic of the console in the old atari systems that's been lost in the newer generations of consoles. You really felt a part of the 2600 especially. The welcoming wooden brown, the stiff cartridges. It was such a great look and feel. Why is my PS2 a dull black box?

UK even has newstand magazines (1)

Duds (100634) | more than 7 years ago | (#15210567)

Worth mentioning because uk users may not have seen it. There's actually a newsstand magazine specifically for Retro gaming here going under the incredibly imaginative moniker of "Retro Gamer" [retrogamer.net] magazine. They even have a pretty good forum if you're willing to do some chav dodging and can stand huge picture sigs.

There's also Retro Fusion [retrofusion.co.uk] which is only avaliable in Gamestation.

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