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November 2003 News Archive

11/30/03

Click here for a full-size screenshotArcade Jukebox 8 Released!
If you've got a MAME cab, odds are that the thought of using it occasionally as a "jukebox" has probably occurred to you. On my MAMEframe cab, I used to use Arcade Jukebox 7, by Mark Schwartz — it had a few rough edges, but was easy to set up and worked great with the controls on my cab.

Well, Arcade Jukebox 8 has now been released, and it looks to improve on version 7. I'm looking forward to testing it out with my new cab, and I'll be sure to report back with my findings.

This Week's "Share the Wealth" Giveaway
The final RetroBlast giveaway (for now!) is an ArcadeVGA card from Ultimarc. If you've got an arcade monitor, this is definitely the way to go for "arcade perfect" displays. The review is a bit behind schedule, but I'll try and get it done this week. I'll have the drawing for the card this Saturday.

11/29/03

Congrats!
This week's "Share the Wealth" winner is Jerry Sartori! Email is en route. I'll announce the details of next week's contest tomorrow. Have a nice weekend, everyone!

11/28/03

X-Arcade Giveaway Reminder
On this traditional shopping-frenzy day (With two sick boys to take care of , I guess I'm taking part in "Buy Nothing Day" instead ;-), don't forget that RetroBlast has teamed up with X-Gaming for a great X-Arcade giveaway just in time for Christmas (the drawing will be on Dec. 17th). Visit the Retroblast front page for details, and good luck!

11/27/03

A Thanksgiving Treat
Yes, a new video! Be sure and check out the video review of PomPom Game's Space Tripper, a 3D/2D side-scrolling shooter inspired by Defender. The written review will be up in a few days, as I'm taking some time off to enjoy the holidays with my family.

Contest Reminder
The Share the Wealth giveaway for the Hot Rod Classic only has two more days left to enter — the drawing will be Saturday morning. Be sure and visit the RetroBlast front page if you're interested in entering the contest.

11/25/03

New Groovy Game Gear!
OMNI-Stik ProdigyOver the weekend I received a couple of new items in the mail, including the new Omni-Stik Prodigy from Randy Turner at GroovyGameGear.com. It's a very imposing (1.5lbs), solidly constructed, short-throw joystick that just happens to feature a easy-access 4 way to 8 way slider switch on the top! I'm really impressed with the joystick, and I'm looking forward to giving it a good workout for the Joystick Roundup review, which I hope to get started on soon.

KeyWiz 1.5Also in the package was the new "1.5" update of the KeyWiz, which will be replacing both the standard and the Max versions of the KeyWiz encoder in the future. Changes include a stacked PS/2 connector and passthrough, and a side-mounted switch to allow for access from the outside of a control panel (if desired). It's a nice refinement of an already impressive encoder, and like the OMNI-Stik Prodigy is a product that I'm very anxious to get started testing.

11/24/03

Hot Rod Haiku?
I get a lot of interesting comments in the contest emails — I don't require any text in the emails, but having a blank email sitting in front of some people seems to be a Rorschach Test of sorts: they've got to put in something. Take, for example, the actual email text from last week's winner:

"Oh, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please,
please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please,
please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please,
please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please,
please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please,
please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please,
please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please,
please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please,
please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please,
please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please,
please."

This week, I even got a Haiku from Ron Brown:

"Wow! HotRod Classic!
Excellent Button Layout
I wish I had one..."

Thanks, guys, for a much needed laugh or two!

(Standard Disclaimer: This contest is purely a random drawing — begging, pleading, or writing Haiku will not increase or decrease your chances of winning. ;-)

11/23/03

SlikStik Spinner EncoderNew SlikStik Products
SlikStik just announced their new spinner knob (available now) and their new custom-designed encoder board (available next week). The spinner is a unique design with dual polypropylene outer o-rings.

The spinner encoder board looks especially interesting. To quote Christian Stango of SlikStik, "The new spinner PCB will be available next week. All Tornado spinners purchased after Dec. 1 will be shipped with our new interface. It supports USB or PS2 operation, support for 3 buttons and has a switchable axis via jumper." It's an exceptionally clean, compact design, and I'm anxious to check one out.

This Week's "Share the Wealth" Giveaway
The prize this week is a HanaHo Hot Rod Classic — the biggest prize yet (no matter how you define the word "big"! ;-) Because of the size, I am asking that if you're outside the US, you only enter if you're willing to help with the shipping costs. To enter, visit the RetroBlast front page for full details.

11/22/03

This week's "Share the Wealth" Winner
Congrats to Jeff Watson (aka FSogol on Alt.Games.Mame), this week's winner of the Oscar Controls Vortex Spinner!

11/21/03

Black Anodized MAME KnobYACK (Yet Another Cool Knob)
I can't believe I forgot to mention this, but Oscar Controls is now offering a black anodized version of their Engraved MAME spinner knob. This is a very cool knob, and the black anodizing makes it even more unique.

Last Day to Enter Vortex Giveaway
Speaking of spinner-related stuff, today is the last day for the Oscar Controls Vortex giveaway, so be sure and visit the Retroblast front page to enter if you haven't done so already.

11/20/03

Click for a larger imagePro Pinball, now on XP
If you're a fan of pinball emulation, odds are you have a CD or two from the Pro Pinball series of pinball games sitting around. Well, now you can finally play those games again, even if you're running Windows XP. Thanks to some beta updates, you can now play Time Shock, Big Race USA, and Fantastic Journey on your XP machine. Here's the ReadMe file explaining everything. I'm having a lot of fun re-learning the tables, and didn't realize how much I'd missed these games. It's amazing how great they look and play even though the games are nearly 6-7 years old.

11/19/03

Cool New Joystick!
OMNI-Stik ProRandy Turner has announced the OMNI-Stik Prodigy, a 4/8 way joystick that can be switched between 4-way and 8-way operation without having to open your control panel! This joystick would certainly give you a lot of freedom in designing a MAME control panel layout.

Joystick Roundup Update
Speaking of joysticks, things are finally starting to gain momentum with the "Joystick Roundup," and I think I should have all the joysticks for the roundup soon. The roundup will include joysticks from Happs, Ultimarc, X-Gaming, and GroovyGameGear (the OMNI-Stik Prodigy).

On a Serious Note
Things have not improved with my wife's illness, which means I haven't had much time for new reviews or site updates. Hopefully things will get better soon, and I can get back to the site, but news and site updates are going to be slow for at least the rest of the week.

11/16/03

New Contest!
Yes, a new, second contest is underway, the X-Arcade "Just in Time for Christmas" giveaway. The winner will get a new X-Arcade unit in time for Christmas. Check out the front page for details.

This Week's "Share the Wealth" Giveaway
This week it's the excellent Oscar Controls Vortex Spinner. I'll be drawing the winner Saturday morning. Full details on the RetroBlast front page.

11/15/03

Congrats!
Congratulations to Ed Bartholomew, winner of the Bits Limited Smart Strip, and Matt Dell, winner of the Lik Sang PC Virtual Gun.

11/14/03

Contest Reminder
Today is the last day to enter the Smartstrip and Virtual Gun giveaways. To enter, visit the RetroBlast front page. I'll be drawing this week's two winners tomorrow morning.

11/13/03

A Delay...
First, the delay — due to some family problems this week (my wife has Lupus, and it's been a bad week for her), I have not had any time to devote to the ArcadeVGA review. I'll try to work on it soon, if things improve around here.

X-Arcade ControllerAnd a Change
And now, the change — I'm going to be modifying the "Share the Wealth " giveaway slightly, due to the fact that I've just given the X-Arcade unit away to a friend who's just getting started in retrogaming (forgive me, but when his two small kids saw the MAMEframe II and started begging him for one, I just had to give him the X-Arcade!)

Don't worry, though, as you'll still get a chance to win one — the X-Gaming crew have generously offered to host a special, separate X-Arcade giveaway, and this will actually ensure that if you win the X-Arcade you'll get a brand spankin' new unit by Christmas time! I'll post all the details soon.

11/11/03

MAME Updated to .77
Yup, the usual barrel of monkeys: bug fixes, new games, general tweaks and goodness. One special thing I'm happy to see is that sound support for Armor Attack is now officially part of this release. Go on, jump over to MAME.net and get your copy today!

Strange Coincidence: UniVert Also Updated to .77
As always, Marcus Tiller has promptly updated the UniVert "Universal Vertical MAME Bezel" to match MAME version .77. Grab it from the File Downloads page, and thanks again Marcus!

11/10/03

MAMEWAH Setup Utility Updated
David Butler has let me know that his MAMEWAH Setup Utility has been updated to 0.7.4 — you can download it from the File Downloads page here on RetroBlast. For full information, be sure to visit the official MAMEWAH Setup Utility site.

11/9/03

Double Giveaways This Week
Yup, I'm giving away two different items this week, a Bits Limited Smart Strip and a Lik Sang PC Virtual Gun. Visit the front page for full details on how to enter, and good luck!

11/8/03

Winner Announced
Okay, the winner of the SlikStik Joystick handles has been announced on the front page. I'm going to take the weekend off, but I'll be announcing next week's prize(s) on Monday. (Oops, I've given too much away already ;-)

Oscar Controls Vortex Spinner Video
Is now available on the Video Reviews page. The video compares the Oscar Controls Vortex Spinner to the spinner it was modeled after, the arcade-original Atari Tempest Spinner.

11/7/03

Original Tempest SpinnerSpinner Roundup Updated
Okay, I've updated the MAME Spinner Roundup review, adding the Oscar Controls Vortex spinner and the original Atari Tempest spinner. I'm working on a "update" video as well — check back later this evening.

Contest Deadline: Tonight!
This is the last day to enter for a chance at the SlikStik Stainless Steel Joystick Handles. I'm going to be picking a winner tomorrow morning (I have no idea exactly when, as I like to sleep in on Saturdays ;-)

11/6/03

Contest Update
Just a reminder that you've only got today and tomorrow left to enter this week's giveaway for the SlikStik Steel joystick handles. I'll be making my decision sometime Saturday morning, so make sure your email is in before then. I'm amazed at the number of entries (and some of the comments in the emails have been priceless — And yes, JJ Lison, you will be able to crush ice cubes with these...if you win. ;-)

11/5/03

Vortex Review Underway
I'm currently working on the review of the Oscar Controls Vortex spinner. It's taking a bit longer than expected because I'm trying to find a way to update the "MAME Spinner Roundup" to include the Vortex (and the original Tempest spinner it's based on).

What I'm Listening to Now: This is Tech-Pop
If you're a fan of that "retro-80's" sound, but are getting tired of hearing "Tainted Love" over and over, I'd recommend you check out This is Tech Pop: 21st Century Electro and New Wave. It's a great collection of new music with that good old-fashioned 80's synth sound. Good stuff if you're into electronic music, and just the thing to listen to when you're cranking out a retrogaming review. ;-)

11/4/03

Great MAMEWAH Setup Utility
MAMEWAH Setup UtilityAs most of you know, I really like the MAMEWAH front end. One of the most tedious things about it, however, is setting it up — since it's designed for use with an arcade controller like the SlikStik or X-Arcade, setting MAMEWAH up involves a lot of scrolling through lists and selecting things by pressing the Player 1 Start button.

Now, however, David Butler has created the MAMEWAH Setup Utility, a great program that allows you to quickly setup everything about MAMEWAH. It's still in development, but it seemed stable to me, and is a fantastic way to get MAMEWAH up and running.

UPDATE: It seems that all the downloads of the MAMEWAH Setup Utility have caused David's site to exceed it's bandwidth usage rate (and consequently it's been temporarily disabled). I've asked if I can mirror his program, and he's agreed. You can download it over from the File Downloads page.

11/3/03

Pac Man and Space Invaders as...Excel Spreadsheets?
Yup, in another demonstration that the love of videogames knows no boundaries, Nobuya Chikada in Japan has managed to faithfully (very faithfully!) recreate both Pac Man and Space Invaders in Excel Spreadsheets. I kid you not. Everything except a few sound samples is coded in Excel. Absolutely amazing.

"Share the Wealth" Giveaway
Okay, it's official — check out the front page of the site for full details on the "Share the Wealth" giveaway. This week the giveaway is for a pair of SlikStik Stainless Steel Joysticks.

Click here for a full-size snapThe Ultimate Tweaker for the AVGA and the D9200
I'm surprised I missed this, but Steve Lilley-Hopkins (of MAMEWAH fame) has released the ArcadeVGA M.A.M.E. Resolution Tool, a fantastic tool for manually fine-tuning or automatically setting the optimum ArcadeVGA settings for MAME games.

I've used the AVRES utility (available on the Ultimarc site) previously, but found that it quite often didn't set the game resolutions properly, especially for vertical games. I ended up re-doing a lot of the display settings one game at a time.

With the AMRT utility (easier on the tongue, huh? ;-), you can fine tune one game, then tell the utility to set all other games that use that resolution to the same settings. In addition, the AMRT does all this in a great Windows-interface with plenty of onscreen information to help you make the best choice.

This is a "must have" utility if you have a D9200 monitor and an ArcadeVGA card (if you've got an arcade cab, the AVGA/D9200 combo is the "gold standard", at least in my opinion!) I've gotten some great results. Good going, Steve!

11/2/03

Official Sound for Armor Attack and Sundance
Well, that was quick — MAME .76u2 has been released, and it now incorporates the sample-based sound implementation for Armor Attack and Sundance that was recently released by the ASTGL project. The required sound samples can be found at Twisty's MAME Samples Collection.

Unfortunately there isn't an official "compiled" version of .76u2 available yet, but I suspect that's just around the corner (hey, this is a good excuse to try compiling yourself — everything you need is available at the MAME.net site, with detailed instructions on how to DIY your own custom copy of MAME. Trust me, it isn't that hard!)

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