Archive for January, 2013

A quick question, retro gaming collectors…

January 28, 2013

A few weeks back I posted a question on twitter:

“What do you think is the hardest retro console/computer to collect for?”

A collectors dream… (nightmare)?

I’ve been collecting games for the Commodore Amiga since I was old enough to start buying them myself. Early Christmas presents aside, some of my first games I bought 2nd hand were from a shop down in charlotte street market in Portsmouth, from a shop called Silver Moon games. I bought Lemmings 2: The Tribes and Lure of the Temptress. The shop unfortunately is no longer there, it disappeared along with the market itself and eventually the entire Tricorn centre.

Since Amiga titles are no longer available on a large-scale (naturally), it’s becoming more and more difficult to track down titles I’d like to buy (even from retro gaming stores) and sometimes if I do find them they are way out of my price range. I’ve been to many car boot sales across the South coast, and I’ve never successfully found an Amiga game for sale, aside from a few close calls when I mistook a selection of big box PC games, from a distance, for Amiga games.

Sadly, eBay is my main source of Amiga collecting and I’m very picky about what and who I buy from on there. Unless I travel much further afield in my search (North of the country would make the most sense), I don’t think I’ll have much hope of finding a cache of Amiga loot. I still search car boots in the small hope I’ll come across a seller who has cleared their Amiga games out of their loft and wants to sell them to me. I continue, albeit stubbornly, to collect Amiga games.

Twitter

A moment of curiosity…

In a moment of curiosity, I thought I’d ask the question above. After a few minutes of answers it became clear a few trends were appearing, particularly collectors from  the US who don’t have access to say, specific European releases, and vice versa.

A few consoles were also mentioned a few times, the Neo-Geo and the TurboGrfx 16, it was also great to hear a few names I’d only just learned about. Below are some of the consoles mentioned and their respective tweeters:

  • Dave Clark‏ – @imagamegeek

Got to be snes or neo geo, gave up on snes years ago … Neo geo is the ultimate arcade console in the home

  • Kimimi – @_Kimimi

As a foreigner, I’d say old Jp computers like the Sharp X-1 and PC88. Hard to find games & usually expensive when you do!

  • Retro Corps  – @Retrocorps

Got to be Neo Geo. You have to have OIL MONEY to have a complete collection…

  • Weird And Retro –@WeirdAndRetro

Maybe not THE hardest but definitely up there is for NUON! Ironically only 7 games released + 1 Korean, but good luck completing it!

  • Paul Darbyshire – @pablo_0151

I reckon the Neo Geo AES might be in with a shout… some pricey stuff on that. Or the Apple Pippin?!

  • Steve Petrucelli  – @wizzer2801

Region specific consoles. Still tough to find that ZX over here.

  • Retro Nick – @Retron8

I’d agree with that (ZX), unless of course you occupy that region… PC-FX is real tricky to collect for.

  • Steve – @chevytecobx

For me I haven’t started any TG-16 stuff, its hard to find local and too expensive (not an eBay fan).

  • Robert Crampton – @Smuggsy

My 1st thought was a SNES, not coz of the age, but finding a good condition cardboard boxed game can be difficult!

This was a great eye opener to the perils of collecting for certain consoles and computers, I see from this small example there are plenty of games and machines out there that can be classed as difficult to collect for, ranging from availability and rarity, to finding games in good condition boxes.

My next collecting project? Hmmm, maybe...

My next collecting project? Hmmm, maybe…

Thanks to everyone on twitter for their replies and opinions, and good luck with the collecting! Let me know what your own collecting troubles and problems have been by leaving a comment below, thanks for reading!

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Wolfenstein 3D

January 3, 2013
Wolfenstein 3D

I love these ‘what happens next’ screen shots…

First a little background reading, Wolfenstein 3D is a first-person shooter set during World War II, it was developed by iD Software.  The protagonist is captured spy B.J. Blazkowicz, this is the character the player will use throughout the game.  It was released in 1992 for MS-DOS and later ported to other systems, most of which included heavy editing, changes and removal of music, images and certain symbols. It was released with 3 episodes, but was eventually enhanced by 3 more.

Back in the day I used to play this all the time at a friend’s house. For awhile, evenings after school were dominated by this game. Door closed to his Dads office, lights off, we turned on the PC to play Wolfenstein 3D (rated PC-13…. ‘Profound Carnage’). The game came on a single (I think) 5.25-inch floppy disk, my memory is a little vague, it could have been more than one as we had more than one of the episodes. Either way, whole game or not, we couldn’t get much further than the first few floors, my friend suffered from motion sickness whenever we played, and I was a pretty terrible shot, a theme that has stayed with me through out my years playing first person shooters.

I love this screen...

All green, it wasn’t always this way….

More recently, I’ve re-acquired Wolfenstein 3D. This time through Steam for the bargain price of £1.74. No more trying to get the MS-DOS version I have to run, Steam has done all the hard work for me. I might have missed this bargain if not for a good friend of mine, they were kind enough to buy me The Walking Dead for Christmas, so I logged in to install and play, naturally I got swept up in the Steam Christmas sale at the same time. Wolfenstein 3D downloaded in about 2 seconds and it loaded in about 3 (what, no updates?). It also still shows the memory/hardware and PC-13 screens, which is just awesome in itself.

Difficulty

Bring ’em on! My level of choice, this pic is however funnier.

Nostalgic feelings take hold as the familiar looking menus appear, all present and correct. The best has got to be the difficulty select page, it actually has some character to it. It’s the little details that make these games great.

Onto the game, I’m currently working my way through Episode 1: Escape from Castle Wolfenstein, and not doing such a bad job either. Collecting as much treasure as I can, making sure I always get 100% kill count and doing my best to run along all the walls rapidly hitting the space bar to find secret rooms, which are often hidden behind the pictures and symbols on the walls.

The game play is just as fast paced and absorbing as it was when I first played it, the graphics and sound effects (was that a door opening or closing behind me?) still give it that great atmosphere, the levels can feel vast and empty sometimes and it can feel a bit like a maze at points, however, the bread crumb trail of devastation should help you find your way through each level. Once you’ve acquired the gold key and found the lift you can head to the next floor.

You start off with a hand-gun and find better weapons as you progress. I’ve recently come across the chain gun, an awesome and devastating weapon. Enemies in this particular episode come in the form of your basic Nazi soldier, attack dogs, and blue Nazi soldier with machine gun. If I remember rightly, the other episodes include some more interesting variations on enemies.

Floor 4

Red blood, not green, red. People also don’t bleed sweat when they get shot.

In the other episodes the game play stays the same, you make your way through each maze like level, the difficulty increases and the enemies change as you get closer to the boss. However, each episode has its own unique story, bad guys, boss and has been visually changed. The bosses are certainly some of the more memorable from over the years, two of my favourites are a psychotic Hitler in mechanised suit of armour and chain guns (Episode 3: Die, Fuhrer, Die!), and a crazy scientist called Dr. Schabbs, a creepy guy who attacks you by throwing syringes and is surrounded by his mutated zombie experiments (Episode 2: Operation: Eisenfaust).

Floor 5

Ho Ho Ho! Now I have a machine gun!

I still think Wolfenstein 3D looks great, the game play is really absorbing and the playability just as good as it was before. I’m enjoying playing this again and want to get through this episode by episode. At the same time I’m looking forward to being able to try episodes 4, 5 and 6, ones I’ve not played before. But right now, I must escape the castle, bring ’em on!

For more information on Wolfenstein 3D, please visit Wolfenstein Wikia.

Or for a quick go of the game, Wolfenstein 3D, enjoy!

Found this excellent collection of maps for Wolfenstein 3D over at VG Mapper, great maps, amazing work.

Bill and Ted, the LAN and the way we used to be…

January 2, 2013

I thought I’d start 2013 with something a little personal, something I’ve had stored up inside for a long time, look away now, this could get a little… sentimental. These are two things that have been on my mind for over 6 years…

Martin, with some sort of shoulder growth…

Part 1 – Bill and Ted

Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure, one of my all time favourite movies as a kid, and also a favourite of one of my best friends, Martin. Coincidentally (or not…) one of us was short and blond, the other tall and dark. We weren’t part of a band, but always wished we were part of Wyld Stallyns, neither of us played an instrument, but always pretended too. Like Bill and Ted we were inseparable, you couldn’t really imagine one without the other, and if apart, wouldn’t be half as good.

I’ve been meaning to write this post since the early days of Reality Glitch, and even though it started as a retro gaming and movies blog I felt I needed to share some things on a more personal level too. Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure epitomises the relationship I had with my best friend, (beyond the height and hair colour) we did most things as a duo, since the earliest days of play school (Kindergarten if you’re in the US) we were together, in and out of trouble,  at home, at the rec, on school trips all the way through secondary school, college, and University.

If I was writing an autobiography, he would dominate the pages from school to University, if there was a story or anecdote from the past he’d generally be involved, he was a huge part of my childhood and beyond, always there, never far, he always had my back and in the later days we could talk about anything, comforting, kind and non-judgmental. You get the point, this man meant the world to me, this blog post isn’t a tribute (although if it was, it would be the greatest one in the world), it is just me, sharing.

Gaming played a huge part in our lives, specifically table top games, AD&D 2nd Edition, Star Wars and Heroes Unlimited, we used to love any sort of RPG, which also included point n’ click and text adventures. I introduced him to the Amiga, and he introduced me to the PC. In amongst all the RPGs one of his favourite games for the PC was Wolfenstein 3D, even though it gave him motion sickness. He loved anything Lord of the Rings, Red Dwarf and Star Wars, favouring later PC and PS games such as Alone in the Dark, Final Fantasy and Knights of the Old Republic.

I’ve struggled with the loss of my best friend, really struggled, not many people know that, I hide things very well. You’re guaranteed to find me in an odd and melancholy mood around certain months of the year, for weeks at a time. I’m hoping this blog post will help me put the loss of my best friend into perspective, help me move on, or maybe even just understand, but who knows. All I really know is that I miss our adventures together and most of all I miss his company and friendship. Bill just isn’t the same without Ted, it’s been a long time since he passed, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing him.

This leads me onto the next part of my blog post, I wasn’t sure if these should be separate, given the tone of this next part maybe more ‘ranty’ than I’d like… still, got to press on.

Part 2 – The LAN

On the subject of gaming, specifically PC, I’ve previously written a post about LAN gaming, and to be honest it is a genuine post I still stand by. However, the origins of the ‘LAN’ I feel go deeper than that post, and personally to me, was an idea by 3 guys (2 brothers and some blond guy) sitting in a bedroom finding a way to hook up their 3 PCs to play some Command and Conquer Red Alert. One of the guys was a lot more helpful than the other two (I was not the one guy). We played many games of Red Alert after that, and from here the idea of the ‘LAN’ began to grow.

Probably should be watching my own screen…

We began to involve other people, limited bedroom space this only meant including one other person, we couldn’t think of anyone more deserving to join our exclusive club than Martin, we invited him along and he brought new ideas (mainly involving snacks). The LAN now grew out of 4 guys wanting to play PC games together and hang out. Next we needed a place to hang out. We set about planning and converting a dilapidated old shed at the bottom of my friends garden into a fully functioning and comfortable LAN gaming workshop (affectionately known as The Shed). We had space for at least 8 people, all hooked up and ready to play (PCs and snacks not provided).

This idea took a while to get going, and even longer to set up and build, but it was worth it in the end. By this time as well games had moved on, Red Alert was replaced by Generals and Zero Hour, Battle for Middle Earth, Dawn of War, Quake and Far Cry were some of the more earlier titles we played. In retrospect, these are the days I’m most fond of, the 4 of us.

Picture 7

Me, Martin, Simon, and Spider-Man, apparently…

For me the LANs had their ups and downs when new people started to join in, conflict of interest was apparently inevitable. A major turning point for me was the loss of Martin (as mentioned earlier). LANs for me would never be the same again without him, the seat he always occupied behind me was empty, a depressing realisation. Not that I think anyone really understood but I could be very picky about who sat there. After this more pressure was put on the host, who was unfortunately (in some respects) the kind of guy who really couldn’t say no to anybody. To make matters worse, one of what I call the ‘founding members’ of the LAN group was banished and exiled, never to be allowed to return again, something that still grates me to this day.

Part 3 – The way we used to be…

The second part of this post, although related to the loss of Martin was inspired when I met up with and chatted to the exiled member of the original 4. It was a nice catch up, a hark back to the old days, we reminisced and it was fun. He mentioned the LAN, he asked me could the LANs be like they were back in the day, it was a nice idea, but I was honest (or cynical, you decide) and mentioned that I don’t think it will ever be the same again, things move on, and in some respects I think I’ve chosen not to move with it, not emotionally anyway.

The LAN meant more to me than gaming, and I’ve found it very difficult to enjoy those subsequent events, especially when Martin, Simon and Andrew haven’t been there. The recent LANs are great, and I’ve got nothing against them, the hosts do a great job of keeping it going and I’m still invited, I just know there’s something missing and it’s something I don’t think I’ll ever get back.

Thanks for listening guys, back to the retro gaming next… (promises promises – Ed)