February 2004 News Archive
I don't want this to turn into an ongoing medical report, but I thought I'd
let everyone know that I should have the MRI results on Tuesday, and hopefully
that will lead to some sort of fix for my pinched nerve. I'll try and get
out a few short reviews this next week, but no promises.
Gamers Do When They Can't Play
Since I currently can't sit or stand comfortably, I've been doing a lot of "laying
around" — but what is a retrogamer to do when he can't play video
games or pinball? In my case, I read about video games and pinball. I'm currently
reading a great book about the history of pinball, aptly entitled "The
Complete Pinball Book." It's got some great photos, and chronicles
all the major developments and changes to the game of pinball. It's fascinating
stuff, especially for an arcade junkie like me.
Even cooler, a lot of of the fantastic pictures in the
book (and the author Marco Rossignoli's other book, Pinball
Memories) are available as poster prints from the author's
web site. I've been looking for some gameroom decorations, and wanted
something a step or two up from neon beer lights and stop signs. These
prints are classy, cool, and (dare I say it?) art.
I want to apologize again for all the recent delays. I went to the hospital
yesterday, and they've now got me pumped up with predisone and percocet,
so things are improving, although slowly. Hopefully I'll be able to keep
the news page updated more regularly, and restart work on the reviews in
a few days.
Storm Angel Video Review Update
Well, I'm finally making progress in the video review — I just switched
to a new video capture program (Fraps,
which is also a great FPS and benchmarking tool), and while I'm still having
some problems integrating the captured video, I've at least managed to process
one test clip correctly!
I also upgraded my main video editing software, Pinnacle
Studio, to their just-released version 9, which is always an invitation
for unwelcome surprises when you're trying to rush something out. Still,
it looks promising.
Unfortunately, I am going to have to re-capture all of
my previous Storm Angel footage, a bigger challenge than it sounds due
to the fact that my current pain killers have made my reflexes, well, a
little sloppy. ;-)
Quick Situation Update
I'm still basically incapacitated (I can only sit upright for a few minutes
at a time), but I thought I'd pass along a few news items. Reviews are still
on hold until I can actually stand up (Hopefully the doctor can fix me up
SlikStik Marquee Contest
The gang over at SlikStik are having another contest, this time to design a
new marquee for their cabinets. The prize is a SlikStik Tornado spinner and
a choice of two spinner tops. Full details available in the Slikstik
New SlikStik Up/Down Tornado Coming!
It seems that the poll is in, and SlikStik will be designing a new up/down
version of their Tornado spinner. Even better, the up/down armature will
be available as a retrofit kit for existing Tornado owners! This is very
cool, and I'm looking forward to reviewing it once it becomes available.
Sorry for the Continued Downtime...
I'll still suffering through a wrenched back, pinched nerve, and the hallucenogenic
effects of the medications I'm taking to treat the pain. I've got some more
doctor visits early next week, so hopefully they'll be able to at least get
me into a sitting position soon. ;-)
Bear With Me...
I hate to have to keep making excuses, but this really has not been my month.
I'm currently nursing a bad back injury I got last week (yes, right after
I recovered from the flu!) — I finally went to the ER yesterday when
the pain was just too much. The muscle relaxants and narcotic pain relievers
I'm now on have got me floating merrilly in and out of consiousness (and
I'm having great dreams, as well ;-) What this means, however, is that new
reviews are going to be delayed a bit until I can stand upright again...I'll
keep you posted.
of Payne Plastic Washers Review
Okay, that's a strange title, but trust me, it's accurate. If you've got a
pinball machine, you owe it to yourself to check out these unique polycarbonate
washers, designed to help protect your pinball plastics from breakage due to
flying pinballs (always a risk inside a pinball machine!) Check
out the review for my action-packed findings (okay, so it's just washers,
how action-packed can it be? ;-)
Joystick Tests Begin
I've just finished setting up the "testbed" for the joysticks — I've
set it up for testing both metal and wood control panels installations (thanks
to some metal joystick mounting panels generously donated by Kelsey of Oscar
Controls!) I will be wiring the harness and encoder tomorrow (I'd do it
today, but I promised my wife I'd take the rest of Valentine's day off ;-)
Oh, and this is the last chance for suggestions — if
you have any specific things you'd like to see tested (smoothness, amount
of pressure to engage switches, etc.) Email
me and let me know soon!
Storm Angel Video Review Delayed
I have to apologize, I had expected to have the video review done at the same
time as the written review, but something about the video captures I took
from the game are absolutely choking every video-editing program I have.
I've massaged and reformatted the video, but I may have to find a new way
to capture in game footage before I can release the video review.
Storm Angel Review Now Ready
I've just posted my review of Storm Angel,
a 3D-accellerated side-scrolling retro-themed shooter (whew, that was a mouthful!).
I've had a lot of fun playing this game, and it's worth a look. I'm working
on the video review of the game, which should be ready later today or tomorrow.
Last — All The Joysticks Have Arrived!
Okay, it's been a long wait, but as of 7:55am this morning (thanks to a very
early DHL driver) I now have all fourteen joysticks that will be included
in the joystick roundup:
- Happs Perfect 360
- Happs Competition
- Happs Super
- Happs Ultimate
- Happs Rotary
- Happs Top Fire
- Omni-Stik Prodigy
- Ultimarc T-Stik Plus
- Ultimarc T-Stik Plus Ball Top
- Ultimarc E-Stick
- Ultimarc J-Stick
- Centsible Amusements Leaf switch
- X-Gaming Joystick
- Wico 8-way Leaf switch
I'm going to be setting up a joystick "test panel" this
week in preparation for a weekend of joystick testing (hopefully). After
that, just give me a while to get everything written up (it's like writing
14 reviews all at once), and I promise I'll finally have the Joystick Roundup
review up ASAP. And yes, there will be a video. ;-)
Angel Review Coming Soon
I'm currently working on a review of a new 3D-accellerated update to the classic
side-scrolling shooter genre: Storm
Angel by Loaded Studios.
The game has great graphics, smooth framerates (even
on older 3D cards), and a lot of surprises. I've actually had a lot of
trouble tearing myself away from it long enough to write the review. I
should have the review finished very soon (as long as I don't load it up
again for some more "testing!")
got a Wobble Head!
No, not a bobble-head. A Doctor Who Dalek Wobble Head...okay, you can stop
laughing. You see, the Doctor Who Pinball machine was designed with a moving
Dalek topper (the robot-looking thing). After the first 100 units or so, they
removed the motor as a cost-cutting measure. The standard production software
still supports the moving head, and now I've got one of the few replacement
mechanisms ever made to restore the motor into the head. Click on the picture
for a video of how it will look in motion (from the "Install
a Moving Dalek Head" site).
I got a great email from John Laur, who bought some additional types of LEDs
including a 6-LED lamp he used for the trackball. He's got some great pictures
of how everything looks over on his MAME
cabinet site, and I've got to agree with him that the 4-LED lamps really
do a nice job. I'm especially impressed with the various colors in his 4-mech
coin door and the start buttons on his control panel. I've updated my SuperBrightLED
review with his findings. Thanks, John!
This isn't lame, it's L.A.M.E.!
it's very, very cool as well. Confused? Don't be — check out the
new L.A.M.E. Arcade
site, which is documenting the development of a really exciting new
piece of hardware for MAME cabinets: game-specific lighted buttons! Load
a game, and only those buttons used in that game will light up on your
control panel. It will even have an "attract" mode! (Oh, and
If you can't tell, I'm really excited about this "cab mod"!)
Okay, I've finished laying the new groundwork for the reviews section of RetroBlast,
breaking up the previously monolithic reviews page into categories: Hardware,
Software, Pinball, Video, and Everything Else. Hopefully that should cover,
um, everything. ;-)
Discovery Channel Covers MAME
I just ran across a post online mentioning a Discovery Channel video
segment on MAME. It's a few months old (it seems to have been aired
originally on 11/26/03), but it's great to see mainstream coverage of retrogaming.
Screenshot Archive Site
I just wanted to point out what a great site the Screenshot
Archive is, especially if you're a fan of retro-console gaming (the screenshots
are for console games). While I'm not a big console gamer, I really appreciate
the MAMEWAH section on the site.
The Screenshot Archive has a lot of resources for MAMEWAH
users, with extra "skins," a MAMEWAH
help section — even a tutorial
on MAMEWAH. Good stuff (and I finally got a good collection of Visual
Pinball screen snaps from there as well!) Thanks to Stuzza for this great
with Eugene Jarvis!
Okay, you may be thinking "Eugene who?," but let me explain why this
is exciting news: Eugene Jarvis and Larry DeMar were the two creators of a
number of classic Williams arcade games, such as Defender, Stargate,
and (drum roll please) Robotron: 2084, my all-time favorite game.
The interview is available over on the "Way
of the Rodent" site. (Strange name, but you can tell the site's run
by retrogaming fans! ;-)
Pinball Plastics Review
A new review, this time of reproduction
pinball plastics. Yes, this is the new "expanded scope" for the
site, as I'm sure many of you had suspected. I'm going to be adding pinball
(and Visual Pinball) related news and reviews to the RetroBlast site. I'm still
planning on keeping up with MAME-related reviews as well, so don't worry — it
all falls under the "Retrogaming" umbrella.
This does mean some site reorganization will be necessary,
but I had been planning on that for a while. I especially plan on revamping
the Product Reviews page, so that reviews
can be organized by categories for easy location.
And Now For Something Completely Different...
I'm going to have a new type of review finished up tomorrow, one that is going
to expand the "scope" of the RetroBlast site a bit. Don't worry — it's
still about retrogaming! ;-)
It's Good to Be Back!
Man, I love the first day after you recover from a bad bug. I've got a lot
of backlogged household chores to get taken care of, but I sure do have the
energy for it!
"Director's Cut" Coin Door Video Released
First on my site to-do's was to update the Coin Door/Super Bright LEDs video
with some narration. The new version is now available over on the Video
"Narration Free" Coin Door Video Released
Well, I still don't have any voice, so I'm going ahead and releasing a preliminary
Coin Door/Super Bright LED video in a "narration free" version
over on the Video Reviews page. Who knows, if
you like this type of "music-informative" video better than me
droning on, please let me know!
Totally Gratuitious Kids Photo
No excuses, and only a marginal attempt to make sure it's arcade related — a
composite shot of my boys (Christopher, age 6, and Brendan, age 3) deeply immersed
in a game of Caveman Ninja:
(Click image for a larger view)
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