Tao of the Machine

Programming, Python, my projects, card games, books, music, Zoids, bettas, manga, cool stuff, and whatever comes to mind.

Amiga emulation, revisited, revisited

More and more games seem to work. It took a while to get WinUAE to this point, though. For example, in the configuration that I first tried, I could not set mouse or keyboard layout, which complicated things greatly. Amiga-In-A-Box to the rescue... it creates a number of configuration files for different purposes, e.g. play floppy games fullscreen with sound, etc. This also "unlocked" the mouse/keyboard options screen.

It's interesting to see how some games are different from their C64/PC counterparts. I don't mean obvious differences like graphics, but things like playability, or how a game is set up.

  • Fire & Ice is a great little platform game. The Amiga version I'm using has a trainer (as opposed to the PC version I played in the days of wayback on my 486), which makes the game a lot more agreeable. A benefit of using an emulator is that you can save & load game states at will, so even if the game doesn't allow you to save at a given position, the emulator will. This especially comes in handy with action games.

  • Revenge of the Mutant Camels: Also available for PC and C64 (and probably a bunch of other platforms), this is a simple-minded yet fun game... but most of all it's weird. You walk with your mutant camel through zones, where you are assaulted by birds dropping weights on your head, clouds raining cats and dogs, Manic Minter, and much more. There are also lots of strange powerups to collect... what to think of a joint 1) that makes your movement really slow, or an effect that reverses your moves.

  • Llamatron: By the same author (Jeff Minter), this is a game in the same spirit as ROTMC, shooting lots of strange baddies (telephones, brains, cherries, you name it). As expected, there are some interesting twists and effects... for example, the brains turn the (otherwise harmless) llamas into zombie beasts.

  • Blues Brothers: Another platformer that I played on the PC. Kinda fun, but difficult.

  • California Games: Unlike other Epyx games that I tried (Winter Games, World Games) this one works well. Compete in 6 events (skateboarding, surfing, etc). [What happened to Epyx?]

  • Buggy Boy: Racing game. IMHO, not as good as the C64 version. On the C64, this game was special because the buggy stays in its lane, as opposed to other racing games where you have to break your joystick to keep the car on the road, especially at high speeds. This allows you to concentrate on avoiding obstacles and grabbing points and powerups. In the Amiga version, however, the buggy does move; not as much as in other racing games, but it moves nonetheless, making the game less fun. (At least to me...)

  • Katakis: Cool shooter, like R-Type. If I recall correctly, the C64 version of this game was somehow illegal in the UK... don't know why, and don't know if the game was true for the Amiga version.

  • Shufflepuck Cafe: Silly but fun game. Basically it's air hockey, with opponents of varying strength. I played this on the PC, ages ago, and defeated most (all?) of my opponents... I'm not sure I can achieve the same feat on the Amiga, where most of them seem terribly strong and fast.

1) It looks like a cigaret, but the effects suggest otherwise.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-03-01 01:08:45   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: games, nostalgia

Amiga emulation, revisited

After a few tips from concerned readers, I got some more games to work on WinUAE. emoticon:smile I'm not sure if this makes me lean more towards buying a real Amiga, or less...

A few ultra-short reviews:

  • Arkanoid: Works, but difficult to play with mouse. I should try the "B" keyboard layout.
  • BattleChess: Cute but *very* slow, for some reason. Not just the thinking, but also the moving of pieces.
  • Dungeon Master: Works fine, but maybe not as great as it seemed back in 1989. :-)
  • Gauntlet 2: Again, I should try a different keyboard layout. Clumsy to play.
  • PacMania: Has everything a good game needs. Easy to play. Nice and colorful. Based on a well-known concept with a new twist. Addictive.
  • Paperboy: Not quite as good as the C64 version, if only because it doesn't have the great C64 music. Also seems less playable somehow.
  • Pengo: Cute, good music too, but not much lastability.
  • Prince of Persia: Good game; I played the PC version (using EGA) in 1991. This version plays exactly the same.
  • Ultima 4: Has some graphics problems. Can maybe be fixed by using a different Kickstart ROM.
  • Winter Games: Has some serious graphics problems also. Solution: ditto?
  • World Games: Haven't gotten it to work yet.

If nothing else, you should get the emulator for PacMania... it's really very good. Simple, but good.

Posted by Hans "aciiiiid" Nowak on 2004-02-28 23:03:51   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: games, nostalgia

Amiga emulation

I am considering to buy an old Amiga. (Yes, another computer... where I will keep all of them is something else.) I don't know much about Amigas, so I decided to try an emulator first (WinUAE) and play some games.

Well, that was not a great success. There are lots of problems with the controls. In WinUAE, you can select mouse, keyboard and/or joystick. I don't have a joystick, so I'm seriously impaired when it comes to playing most games. The mouse doesn't work very well. It seems fine in AmigaDOS or the Workbench, but in games, the character moves all over the place, even if I don't touch the mouse... and the keyboard layout uses the numerical keypad, which I find very awkward. The normal cursor keys have no effect, nor do "obvious" fire button replacements like Space, Enter or Ctrl. Oh, and sometimes nothing works at all... no mouse, no keys, nothing.

Point-and-click games do seem to work, however. These are games that use the mouse to begin with, so emulation isn't as much of a problem as it would be for the joystick. Defender of the Crown, for example, and Dungeon Master. I am looking forward to trying out some adventure games on WinUAE, like Loom, Monkey Island, Lure of the Temptress, etc. Maybe some RPGs will work too. But I can forget about action-oriented games like Zool, World Games, or Arkanoid.

Of course, the emulation problems are unrelated to how these games perform on the real Amiga. I am not sure if I should get one; if I do, I'll need access to a cache of games as well. I won't use it for hacking, design or development... just games.

(In /links/emulation there are some links to sites with emulators and ROMs.)

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-02-24 22:16:57   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: games, nostalgia

The stars, a new way to see them

I read the Dutch translation of this book in the early 80s... I got it from the library over and over and over again. Eventually I "graduated" to the adult section of the library, with all their boring books emoticon:smile, and wasn't able to get it anymore.

After that, I was unable to find the book in Dutch stores. Eventually I got my Internet connection in 1997, and found it on the Net. It didn't take long before I had an American copy of it.

At first this may seem like a simple book. If, as a child, you're interested in "the stars", it's easy to get fed up with the way constellations are displayed. They have names like Lion, Dragon, Bull, etc, but they don't look like anything, due to the unimaginative way the lines between the stars are drawn. This book fixes that problem. It introduces a new way of displaying the constellations, making it easy to find them in the night sky. You can go out in the evening and actually find these constellations, and (most of the time) they *will* look like something resembling their name.

To aid you in your constellation spotting, the book has maps for various dates and times, compensating for latitude, or offering different sets of maps altogether for areas that do not share the USA's latitude (around 30°-50° N). 1) It also tells you a bit about the backgrounds of the constellations, bright or peculiar stars, and how to find them.

"Real" astronomers may not think that constellations are very important; after all, they don't have real meaning. But there's more. The book also gives you a solid basis about the solar system, stars, galaxies, etc. This is presented in such a way that children can understand it (at least I did :-), but it's by no means for children only.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in astronomy or who is just curious about the night sky, stars and planets.

1) 10° difference in latitude is significant. Moving from the Netherlands (~51°) to Florida (~30°), I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that I could now see certain constellations that never rose above the Dutch horizon. The Crane and the Phoenix, for example; I've also seen Canopus and parts of the Centaur. Others, like the Scorpion and the Big Dog, rise much higher than in the Netherlands, and can be seen whole.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2004-02-16 12:57:25   {link} (see old comments)
Categories: books, nostalgia

Space cadet keyboard

I always thought of the PS2 controller as revolutionary and elegant, with its square, circle, triangle and cross. Elegant it still may be, but revolutionary it is not. Check out this so-called space cadet keyboard that came with old Lisp Machines. (See also here.)

A Lisp Machine seems like a cool thing to have. Maybe not so useful anno 2003, but still cool. Ebay, anyone? :-)

Update. [Chris Ryland] Also see this page.

Posted by Hans "they don't make 'em like they used to" Nowak on 2003-10-15 22:22:17   {link}
Categories: programming, nostalgia


For a while I have been interested in a specific dialect of Lisp, called ZetaLisp, and the OO system that came with it, called Flavors. I couldn't find any detailed information about it on the Net, though... until today. Here's the old Lisp Machine manual (by Moon, Stallman and Weinreb); chapter 21 describes Flavors. (Note that this is the MIT Lisp Machine, not Symbolics.)

Interesting stuff here. I wonder if ZetaLisp implementations still exist (being available for modern systems, that is). Some remarks:

Design by contract is a concept usually associated with Eiffel... but this manual (from 1984) already talks about contracts.

The contract from ship to its callers only speaks about what happens if the caller calls these functions. The contract makes no guarantees at all about what would happen if the caller were to start poking around on his own using aref. A caller who does so is in error; he is depending on something that is not specified in the contract. [...] This example shows why the concept of a contract between a callee and a caller is important: the contract specifies the interface between the two modules.

ZetaLisp's attitude in this respect is much like Python:

Unlike some other languages that provide abstract types, Zetalisp makes no attempt to have the language automatically forbid constructs that circumvent the contract. This is intentional. One reason for this is that the Lisp Machine is an interactive system, and so it is important to be able to examine and alter internal state interactively (usually from a debugger).

Maybe all Lisps or Lispy OO systems do this -- I wouldn't know. Another feature, which may be common as well, is that defstruct seems to use some magic for attribute names:

(defstruct (ship :conc-name)

(defun ship-speed (ship)
  (sqrt (+ (^ (ship-x-velocity ship) 2)
           (^ (ship-y-velocity ship) 2))))

After defining the ship object, ship-x-velocity and ship-y-velocity are suddenly defined as well. 1) Again, maybe this is a common technique in Lisp, I don't know (yet), but it certainly isn't common in Python, so I mention it for the sake of comparison. (Then again, in Python you can abuse __getattr__ and __setattr__ for attribute magic...)

Read these documents. They're worth it. And they lack the arrogance that sadly is common among some modern Lisp proponents.

1) I first thought this was part of the Flavors system, but it seems to be independent from it. Flavors would use the defflavor and defmethod constructs.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-10-14 21:52:13   {link}
Categories: programming, nostalgia

Destroy him, my robots

I don't have anything interesting to write, so here's a short list of essential C64 games you should download. :-)

  • Movie Monster: Play a monster that destroys a city. Choose from a huge dinosaur, insect, blob, robot and more.
  • Impossible Mission 2: Somersault through various rooms filled with robots, to collect information.
  • Defender of the Crown: Do the knightly thing in old England, besieging cities, competing in tournaments, rescuing damsels in distress, and conquering some counties while you're at it.
  • Katakis: R-Type-like shoot-em-up, with (for that time) excellent graphics.
  • Ricochet: Wacky, WACKY breakout clone. Gravy on everything.
  • California Games: Compete in 6 Californian events, including surfing, BMX racing, rollerskating, and hacky-sack.
  • Paperboy: Deliver newspapers in a street crowded with joggers, dogs, skaters, trash cans in strategic positions, cars, and more.
  • Alter Ego: A game that simulates your life, how it could/should have been (or maybe not).
  • Kung-Fu Master: Good for at least a few minutes of fun as you kick down big enemies and jump over midgets. :)
  • Law of the West: Sheriff in a wild-west town deals with desperados, a cattle rustling woman, the always drunken doctor, a backstabbing deputy, and more.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-08-19 23:33:53   {link}
Categories: nostalgia, games

Day 5: World Games

Another C64 game that I remember fondly. The games are not getting newer; this one must have been released in late 1986 or maybe early 1987, if I'm not mistaken.

In the middle/late 80s, there was a software company called Epyx, known for their high-quality games. Their list of successes includes Summer Games, Summer Games II and Winter Games, where multiple players could compete in a number of Olympic events. I guess this idea got old after a while (there's only so many sports you can do), so they came up with disciplines that were a bit more unusual. This resulted in World Games (and later California Games, which is the #1 download at c64.com).

The first discipline in World Games is weight lifting, which is also an Olympic event, but most of the other ones are pretty much uncommon. You get to jump over barrels (on ice), dive from a cliff, toss cabers, and ride a bull in a rodeo. Other events include slalom skiing, log rolling, and sumo wrestling. The games take place in various parts of the world, hence the name.

For those who are unfamiliar with Summer Games and its sequels, it is played like this. You set the number of players (1-8), name them, and choose what country they represent (there's a number of flags to choose from, and the national anthem is played when you pick one). You can then compete in all or any of the games. After each game, points and medals are awarded to the winners, and a scoreboard is updated. In other words, you get to play your own Olympics. emoticon:loveit

The games are not for the heavy-handed. An infamous game like Decathlon required waggling the joystick as fast as possible. Not so in World Games. To get a decent score, you need timing, a sense of rhythm, sometimes quick reactions. For example, getting up to speed to get over the barrels doesn't require that you move your joystick extremely fast. That "strategy" will not get you anywhere; rather, you have to move the stick in a certain rhythm, to have your skater gain speed. That's not all; there are also timing issues: don't jump too early or too late; same goes for landing.

Similary, Slalom Skiing is a Decathlon player's nightmare, and considered by many to be the most difficult of the 8 events. The skier isn't easy to control, and with all the obstacles in the way, it's hard enough to make it to the finish line safely, without the additional requirement of passing through the flag ports.

On the other hand, other games require other techniques. To win Bull Riding, you have to a keep a close eye on what the bull's doing, and move your joystick accordingly. For Cliff Diving, it's most important to keep an eye on the wind direction and speed before you jump.

While the games are essentially serious (and not slapstick-like like Alternative World Games (which I never played, BTW)), there's a lot of humor, although it's not immediately obvious. For example, if your weight lifter doesn't put down the weights when he's done, there's a chance that he will crash through the floor. When your bull throws you off, he laughs at you. Ditto for the pelican that watches when you unceremoniously fall on your face after diving from the cliff. (And he hides his face with his wing when you hit the rocks at the side of the cliff!) And when you put too many barrels up, the skater looks at you and scratches his head. (There's more, but I won't give away everything here.)

Graphics and sound were very good for that time, by the way. It's a bit pointless to discuss them, because these days everybody has much better equipment...

Get World Games at c64.com. There's also a (silly) FAQ, but it's really for the NES, and apparently the games weren't exactly the same as on the C64.

Some reviews: Zzap! 64 issue 19, and an article in German. (The Zzap! 64 site has some scans back online, so you can also check the original review as it appeared in the magazine. See issue 19.)

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-07-27 14:53:44   {link}
Categories: games, nostalgia

Day 4: Hat Trick

This is a fairly unknown game even in C64 circles. Indeed, the version I played (and still play) was for the Commodore 64, but it's possible that there were releases for other systems as well.

Hat Trick is a one-on-one (or two-on-two, if you count the keepers) ice hockey game. At first glance, it has significant things going *against* it: unspectacular graphics, boring sound effects, and difficult controls. One might wonder why it is on my games list. Simple: because it's extremely playable.

You might not think so at first. Your player is difficult to control. But this is where the realism comes in. Do you really expect an ice hockey player to be able to stand still immediately when he wants to? Of course not; inertia plays a very important role when on the ice. Therefore, your player moves slowly from a standstill position, takes a while to slow down when moving at top speed, and doesn't change direction immediately when you want to. It takes some time to move your player around skillfully.

The same goes for shooting at the goal. Back in the day, with a joystick, it was a bit easier than it is now, using the cursor keys on a PC keyboard. The computer controlled keeper is generally good, at least until you discover ways to trick him. On the other hand, you control both your player and your keeper, simultaneously. If you move your player up, your keeper will go up as well, etc. This takes some time to master too, since you need to keep an eye on both; failure to do so will leave great openings for the opponent.

There are three levels (easy, medium, hard); they're really not all that hard anymore once you figure out how to move your player effectively, and how to score. Once you reach that point, the first (easy) level may actually be a bit more difficult than the others, because the opponent is less predictable than on the higher level. Challenges that keep the game interesting are: trying to make as many goals as possible (my old record on the C64 was 24-1, but I think I've beaten that last year or so), and, trying to play "the other side". If you've mastered red (plays from right to left), and beat your opponent with 20 goals, that doesn't mean you can do the same playing blue. In fact, chances are that you will lose when playing it for the first time... ^_^

Download it here (at c64.com; warning: if you're into C64 games, you might not come back anytime soon). A good C64 emulator for Windows is VICE.

Posted by Hans "bully for you" Nowak on 2003-07-26 12:11:10   {link}
Categories: games, nostalgia

Day 3: Civilization

Another great game from the days of wayback. Its latest incarnation, Civilization 3, doesn't run very well on my computer (which admittely isn't state of the art). Fortunately, the first two versions are (still) just as playable.

This game is so well-known that I can expect most people to know what it's about, but for those who don't, here's the concept. You pick an ancient civilization... Egyptian, Roman, Aztec, Indian, Chinese, etc; or maybe not so old... German, American, English, French; or you create your own. The goal is to make your civilization a world power, or at least survive. That isn't as easy as it sounds, considering you start with only settlers and a very rudimentary grasp of technology. You have to build cities, invent technologies, multiply, explore, keep your people happy, and keep neighboring civs at bay.

This is a great game if you like world-building. Starting from scratch, you expand your empire by building more and more cities. You create armies to defend yourself or attack opponents (if your civ is the last one standing, you win the game). You can create ships to explore the world and settle new continents. You can create diplomats to negotiate with other civs (and do less noble things, like stealing their technologies). You can create caravans to trade with other civs.

Of course, your resources are not infinite. The location of your cities affects whether they are rich or poor, have little or plenty of food. This in return affects what cities can do, how long it takes them to build certain improvements (granaries, barracks, temples, warriors, settlers, wonders of the world, and much more) and how happy their inhabitants are. (Unhappy cities tend to revolt.)

You can win the game in several ways. As said, one way is to get rid of all competing civs. Another is to advance all the way to the "future" and launch a spaceship that reaches Alpha Centauri. Personally, I strongly prefer the latter.

No game is without flaws, and Civilization is no expection. The micro-management tends to get very tedious once you have a lot of cities. Every turn a handful of cities have completed a project, and you have to assign a new one. You'll spend a lot of time zooming to cities later in the game. (Civ 2 Gold has an "auto" feature to alleviate some of this pain, but this usually doesn't do what I want. :-)

The game is much richer than the concise description I just gave, and is definitely worth playing. Even the very first (DOS) version.

Reviews (of both Civ 1 and 2): at Gamesdomain, Adrenaline Vault, ATPM.

GameFAQs for Civilization, Civ 2, and Civ 2 Gold.

DLH cheats, trainers, etc, for Civ, Civ 2 and Civ 2 Gold.

UHS hints for Civ 2.

Finding a place where it can be downloaded or bought is left as an exercise to the reader. emoticon:smile

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-07-25 20:22:57   {link}
Categories: games, nostalgia

Day 2: Monkey Island

Yes, this is another LucasArts adventure. (And no, to reassure you: the other 5 days will not be LucasArts games. Nor will they be adventures, for that matter.) The official title is "The Secret of Monkey Island". I played it in 1991 or so, when I had my first PC.

Monkey Island is much like the earlier LucasArts (or LucasFilm as it was called back then) games on the C64, Maniac Mansion and Zak McKracken. Except that it goes a level up; it's bigger, better thought out (IMHO), and has better graphics than its predecessors.

This is the tale of Guybrush Threepwood, mighty pirate. Or at least that's what he wants to be. So he has to pass "The Three Trials", which is the first part of the adventure. No sooner does he complete the trials, than governor Elaine Marley of Melee Island is kidnapped by the evil ghost pirate LeChuck, and Guybrush has to assemble a crew, get a ship, and go after her.

This game was quite innovate for its time (and still is very good, really). For example, it has a nifty dialog system. When you talk to someone (who actually has more to say than just a line), you get multiple choices, and depending on your choice you can steer the conversation in a certain direction. You can't really say or do the wrong thing, though; you cannot die in this game. 1) (I love games where you cannot die; it leaves you free to explore without fear of an untimely and unexpected death, and you don't have to abuse the Save option every time you are about to walk around a corner.)

The game is also *fun* to play (as opposed to some other adventures in that day that lacked in the humor department). The game is full of puns, funny situations, and even cameos. (It doesn't go overboard though, like Monkey Island 4.) Also, the puzzles are quite innovate and have clever solutions. One of my favorites is opening the cell door using mugs of grog (I have a feeling that I talked about this before in my weblog :-). Or beating the sword master (using insult sword fighting, picking up new insults and retorts by dueling random pirates).

On the down side, some puzzles are rather difficult and/or require a lot of walking to and fro. Still, the solutions aren't illogical, although they might require a bit of a twisted mind. :) All in all, a great game, worth playing even in 2003. It's still for sale too (see yesterday's entry).


Also, see yesterday's links of the LucasArts Classic Adventures package, which includes Monkey Island as well. ScummVM runs it as well.


FAQs and walkthroughs

1) Although there is (at least) one place where it seems like you die... but it's really a pun on certain Sierra adventures. One of the many highlights of the game.

Posted by Hans "the poodles are only sleeping" Nowak on 2003-07-24 18:26:28   {link}
Categories: games, nostalgia

Day 1: Loom

This is possibly the best game I've ever played, in spite of its limited replay value. Loom is a point-and-click adventure, released in 1990. I first played the EGA version; later a VGA version was available with 256 colors. Even with 16 colors, the game's graphics are worth looking at.

The game is not flawless. It's been described as too short, and too easy. Then why do I like Loom so much? Mostly because it's subtle and elegant.

For example, take the controls. Other point-and-click adventures back in the day had a command line (e.g. Larry), or a list of commands and items on the screen (e.g. Monkey Island). In Loom, the protagonist (Bobbin Threadbare, from the weaver clan) only has a so-called distaff, which replaces commands and inventory. It can be used to play notes, and sequences of notes function as spells. You only start out with three notes (C/D/E), so the spells you can choose from are limited at first, but along the way you learn new notes and new spells.

The notion of drafts (series of 4 notes) as spells has another implication. The spell that means "open", for example, can be played backwards to have the reverse effect; in this case, to close something. This is crucial when it comes to solving some of the game's puzzles.

I like the story too. On a superficial level, it's just another "world being threatened by dark forces" plot. But it's done very well; when the story moves along, it doesn't become too predictable or feel like a drag. Bobbin starts out in his own country (weavers), then visits shepherds, blacksmiths, etc., all with colorful characters and places to explore.

Yes, it's too easy and too short. Still, I play it again, once in a while. I already know the outcome, and know what to do in all situations, but I still play it. It's like rereading a good book.

Walkthroughs and solutions


I'm sure it can be found in other places as well. If you're interested, consider buying the official version though (see below). Or maybe it can be found for cheap on Ebay.


Other links

(Unfortunately, there's no 100% guarantee that Loom (being an old DOS game) will work on modern computers running Windows 2000 or XP. It did work for me though, on both systems (and Windows 95/98 should be no problem either). If you're running XP or 2000, and your copy of Loom (or other DOS game) has no sound, take a look at VDMSound.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-07-23 20:04:38   {link}
Categories: games, nostalgia

Ancient computers

Kasia Trapszo: The beginnings.

"So what was your beginning in computers? If in fact you are someone who does something with computers.. I'm one of the lucky few to do what I always dreamed about.. how about everyone else? Is this something you always wanted? Was it accidental? Necessity? What, why and when?"

Opa vertelt... Hmm, let's see. I was 12 too, and this was in 1985 as well. That Atari wasn't too bad, considering what types of "home computers" were around in those days. I got a Commodore 16. 16 Kb of memory, or actually 12 since the operating system took up 4. Pity about the memory, because in many ways it was a better computer than the Commodore 64 (which I got next)... a better BASIC, 127 (or so) colors, and comparable sound. (The C64's sound was not bad, aside... it took PCs years to catch up.)

One of the first games I played (loaded from tape, of course :) was a simple program called X-Zap. I rediscovered it on the Net a while ago, and C16/Plus4 emulators to play it. ^_^

Programming was cool, although it was difficult for me (being 12 and not a native English speaker) to figure out what all those commands did exactly. I recall that one of my first programs was something that showed a 3D bar chart, in nice colors. (C64 BASIC lacked these graphical capabilities, unfortunately.)

So I have been working/playing with computers since 1985, and I have been programming (or attempting to program) since then, but I didn't get the idea of doing this for a job until much later. I wanted to, but I was discouraged, mostly because of the myth that you need a very strong mathemathical background to be a professional programmer. But eventually I ended up working as a programmer anyway...

Posted by Hans "and not because of the Internet boom" Nowak on 2003-07-19 01:14:01   {link}
Categories: nostalgia


This site used to have scans online of almost all issues of Zzap! 64, a British magazine with reviews of Commodore 64 (and later Amiga) games. Used to, because it seems most of them are gone, apparently due to server problems.

The good news is that I downloaded all these issues back in 2001, and put them on CDs. The bad news is that these CDs are all in the Netherlands, and I am in Florida. :-) Maybe I should ask my parents to send them.

I knew that storing offline copies of sites would come in handy someday...

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-03-05 01:47:03   {link}
Categories: nostalgia

Zak McKracken

This is a game I played ages ago (1989 I think) on the Commodore 64. It can be seen as one of the first games in a long row of excellent Lucasfilm (later LucasArts) adventures. I can recommend it to anyone. And, anno 2003, it's still playable, on PCs and elsewhere (if you have a decent C64 emulator).

Aliens want to take over the world. The unlikely hero who can stop them is Zak McKracken, tabloid reporter. Travel all over the world, solving (weird) puzzles, using strange objects and meeting strange creatures. Like with all Lucasfilm adventures, this game is well-designed; it encourages exploring and finding surprising (but not completely illogical) uses for objects in your inventory. Importantly, there is a lot of zany humor, making the game a joy to play.

Downloads: PC (or here) and C64 (disk 1, 2, 3).
Walkthroughs can be found at Gamefaqs. (The game isn't easy, but not impossible to solve. Of course, you need a bit of a twisted mind...)
There are also UHS hints.

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2003-03-01 17:39:46   {link}
Categories: games, nostalgia

Sounds of the past

Remember those C64 games that were no good but that you played anyway for the music? Well, I do. Chimera, for example, had great intro music by Rob Hubbard, but the game itself sucked, complete with awkward movement of your main character etc. Crazy Comets, I never played that, but the music was put in a "demo" by DCF (Dutch Commodore Freaks), IIRC.

Enter SidAmp. Doop man! Vet! A plugin for WinAmp to play SID files (for those who didn't own a C64, the SID was the C64's sound chip. It allowed for much better sound than PCs had, until SoundBlaster came along). To find SID files, consult the High Voltage SID Collection. Now you can listen to those great tunes of California Games, Comic Bakery, Chimera, BMX Kidz, Sanxion, Last Ninja, etc. etc.

Of course you can also grab an emulator of choice, grab some tape or disk images, and actually play those games. Or grab a magazine or two to put you in the mood. Some stuff I enjoyed back in the day: World Games, California Games, Hat Trick (a brilliant ice hockey game), Zolyx, Law of the West, Maniac Mansion, Zak McKracken, etc...

Posted by Hans Nowak on 2002-10-22 21:07:47   {link}
Categories: nostalgia

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