Dream Arcades Trackball for Cocktail
Thanks to Matt Apuzzo for pointing out this add-on
trackball for the Dream Arcades cabinets. It's a standard Betson-Imperial
trackball, designed to be a plug-and-go addition to Dream Arcade's own line
of cocktail cabs. It can also be used on other cocktail cabs with "minor
Jakks Pacific TV Games Controllers
Here is a quick and cheap way to get a retrogaming fix: the Jakks
TV Games line of controllers. Each has embedded games, such as Atari 2600
games, Namco classics, Ms. Pac Man, and more. Just hook the controller up to
your TV and you're ready to go. They've even just added Atari Paddle controllers
to the mix.
Arcade Games to Accept Credit Cards
Yes, you read that right. Looks like the credit card companies are finally
ready to try "micropayments." Check out the article
in USA Today for full details.
More Prizes from MAMEroom
Just got word from Scott at MAMEroom that they will be donating two copies
of their most excellent Ultimate
Arcade Plans for the RetroBlast giveaway. This just keeps get better
Cabinet Building Tutorial
Here's a very detailed
tutorial on how to build a MAME cabinet, with lots and lots of pictures
(always helpful!). Thanks to Matt Apuzzo for the link.
of the Week: Happs Perfect 360 Optical!
Yes, my favorite joystick, the Happs Perfect 360 Optical, has finally been
reviewed and is now part of the RetroBlast Joystick Roundup.
Hands down, this joystick is the cream of the
crop. But why? What do I love about this joystick that would make
me gush over it like some fawning schoolgirl? Jump on over to the RetroBlast
Reviews page and find out!
The Classics Never Die
Check out this article over on MSNBC entitled "Classic
Video Games Make a Comeback".
Packing Up for the Move
Well, the site move has begun — I've set up RetroBlast's new home, but
there's a hangup on getting the domain name transferred and the DNS information
updated. The old site (which you're reading right now) is still working fine,
so we're still good to go until the July 9th deadline (when my current hosting
package runs out!)
Site Update Delays This Week
Well, I've got family coming to visit this week, which means site updates will
be a bit slower — I don't think I'll be able to write many reviews
while riding roller coasters or visiting the zoo! I'll try and sneak in some
news when I can.
Okay, this may not be as exciting for many of you as it was for me, but I just
finished my first "pinball mod," adding animated lighting to the
Time Expander mini-playfield on my Dr. Who pinball machine. Using a very cool
product called MADLights,
I added digitally-controlled animated lighting effects to the Dalek fly-away
target holes during multiball. Check out the new video to
see how great it looks. A full write-up on how I interfaced it to the pinball
machine is coming soon, as well as a review of the MADLights.
Behold the ArcaLux...
you're like me, you love blinking lights — the more the
better. Here's a product to add user-controlled lights to your
arcade cabinet. In their own words:
the groundbreaking ArcaLux! The complete electronics hardware
and software suite that is ready to transform your control panel
into the coolest on the planet.
- Up to 40 controllable lights on your control
- Interfaces with your host gaming computer
- Attract Mode
- User-Defined Animations
- Game-Aware Indicator Illumination
Classic Nintendo Games...on your Gameboy Advance!
There's a new version of the Gameboy Advance coming out, designed to add a "retro" flair.
Part of Nintendo's upcoming "Classic NES Series", they are going
to release emulated versions of NES classic games that play on the Gamebox
details can be found over at ign.com.
A MAME Screensaver
Here's a neat screensaver program that lets you run any other program as a
screensaver, including MAME! The "AnySaver" lets
you use command-line MAME to run the attract modes of MAME games as your
screensaver. Very cool stuff!
A Pinball Video
No, not by yours truly — this is the
latest video by the band Jet, for their song Cold Hard B*tch.
The band plays in the backbox of a pinball machine. Personally, I thought my
video was better... ;-)
is that?" Volume 3
Yes, another mystery product. The third one I've bought,
actually, and it appears the third time's the charm — I got
this one up and working as part of my mystery project. I've got
to document some more about this product, and how I used it, so
look for a full explanation in a day or so. I spilled blood installing
it, which I always consider a good omen (don't ask me why, I've
just noticed that all of my projects are successful if I bleed,
and failures if I don't. Call it "voodoo electronics.")
Tornado Review Updated
I've just finished updating my February 2003 review of the SlikStik Tornado
spinner (yes, I wrote it before RetroBlast even existed, back when I had my
small "MAMEframe Arcade Machine" web site. How times have changed...)
With all the changes in the Tornado spinner and all the cool new knobs available,
the review needed a bit of a freshening up, so I did some "spring cleaning" and
it's now fully up-to-date — hop on over to the RetroBlast
Reviews page for the new and improved review.
ACT-Labs Gun Shell
Here's something cool I just found out about: ACT-Labs offers a replacement gold
shell for their light gun!
In my opinion it looks better than the standard
silver shell, and you can use it in a dual-gun setup to help distinguish
between player 1's gun and player 2's gun. It's just too bad that
ACT-Labs doesn't have replacement shells shaped like other guns
Contest Hint #2
Here's the current list of the companies that have provided the prizes for
next month's giveaway (more companies may still be added!):
- Dream Arcades
- Groovy Game Gear
- Classic Arcade Grafix
"RetroGaming, The New Chic"
Check out this article
in the Marin Independent Journal about how Retrogaming is coming into vogue.
Bask in your new found coolness.
Here's an article
in the Pacifica Tribune about pinball collecting in general and more specifically
about Pacifica Pinball Plus, one of a handful of companies that are restoring
and selling classic pinball games.
Contest Hint #1
Sorry for the lack of real news, I'm feeling a bit under the weather today.
To make it up to you, I'll share a tidbit of news about the RetroBlast giveaway
next month: I've got nearly enough prizes to give one away every day during
July. Drooling yet? Stay tuned...
Arcade First Impressions
I'm currently reading through John St. Clair's excellent new book "Project
Arcade: Build You Own Arcade Machine" and am very impressed.
It's a big book (476 pages), and manages to cover just about any aspect of
arcade cabs that you could imagine, including selling your wife on the idea
of building one! I'm learning a lot, and John's got a great writing style.
Look for the review as soon as I can finish reading
it (not all that easy in a house with two small boys!)
If you need a fix of classic gaming but don't have a copy of MAME handy, check
out this list of Shockwave
and Java-based classic video games. Play a game in your browser while
you wait for that work-related download to finish. Yeah, that's the ticket...
(Thanks to Matt Apuzzo for the link!)
Proof for BYOAC Tokens
Just got word that the lead proof has been struck for the BYOAC
token design. This is a "test master" that shows what the embossed
image on the final token will look like once the tokens are minted.
In my opinion, it looks very nice, and I can't
wait to see it in finished form (I ordered several sets for my
pinball machine and MAMEframe). Don't forget that you can always
order your own set: check
here for full details. Special thanks to David Santoro for
seeing this unique group project through the rough spots and getting
From Mars Saucer Lights
Here's something great for anyone who owns a Williams Attack
From Mars pinball machine: a "Mini-Saucer
LED Kit" for the six playfield saucers that surround the "mother
This is a great looking pinball mod, and very
professionally done, as well. It's a bit pricey ($149), but considering
the limited number of people who would possibly need this kit,
it's a fair price. Besides, it's got blinking lights — I
can't resist anything with blinking lights...drool...
Rotating Monitor Assembly
got an email from Benjamin Krall with pictures of his very impressive
rotating monitor assembly for his cabinet.
In his own words:
Because of the width I needed to build a modular
design. This design will break down to fit through a
doorway. The monitor assembly will sit on a base which is
thinner. There are shelves underneith the monitor (view from
back) for this purpose. The speaker and marquee assembly
will be a box design and will be the same width as the monitor
assembly. The sides will sandwich the marquee box and moitor
assembly and butt up to the control panel to hide the monitor box.
i will use a modified happ bezel that will be connected to a black
disk the same sixe as the monitor wheel. The monitor glass
will sit directly on the monitor box assembly and be painted black
underneith except for a round circular area slightly smaller then
the bezel disk.
If you have any suggestions or comments, feel
free to email
Benjamin with your ideas.
Ball 2.0 Released!
Raptisoft has released version
2.0 of Hamster Ball, their Marble Madness-inspired game. Let me tell you — this
is a great upgrade! New in this update are features such as a two-player split-screen
race mode and the "Rodent Rumble," an arena game where you and up
to three friends (or computer-controlled opponents) can see who can knock who
off the board. These new "Party Games" are a blast on a MAME cab,
The upgrade is free to registered owners. Other
niceities include configurable keyboard controls and hidden "easter
eggs" which unlock the rumble arenas. It's a substantial change,
and I'm going to have update my review to match!
This Week's Joystick Review Poll Winner...
is the Happs Perfect 360! This should be a fun review, as I really like the
P360 joystick, and it's the joystick I have in my SlikStik controller. A
P360 with the SlikStik stainless steel joystick handles is a joy (pun) to
play with, and I'm looking forward to writing the review. I've also put up
a poll for next week's joystick review, so hop on over to the RetroBlast
front page and vote!
SlikStik "Duo" Controller
another unique controller from team SlikStik — a
dual trackball controller! Here's the description from their
site: "Here is a preview photo of our new dual trackball
unit. This unit is one of a kind and has been designed to play
all 4-way joystick classic games as well as 2 player Marble Madness.
It utilizes a full I-Pac 2 interface and can be fitted with dual
trackball lights, double side pinball buttons and endless color
combinations. It will be available in our online store the week
of the 21st."
Atari Retro Package for PDAs
There's a "mini-review" of the Atari
Retro game package for both Palm and Windows Mobile PDAs over at Geek.com.
The package includes such classics as Asteroids and Missle Command, but don't
get too excited — it emulates the Atari 2600 versions!
BYOAC Token Proof
from the BYOAC forums about their custom token project: the
mint has set up the design, and has a lead proof minted and ready
for approval. Once it's approved, it should only be a few weeks
until the tokens are distributed to those who have placed pre-orders. There's
still time to order!
10,000 Points Music Video
this is an experiment on my part, so bear with me — I stumbled
across an old cassette today of Peter Shilling's 1985 album Things
to Come, which features the arcade gaming-themed
song 10,000 Points.
Well, I decided to try and put together a music
video for this song. Probably something only an arcade gaming-nut
will enjoy, but here it is: hop on over to the RetroBlast
Videos page for a brand new video of a genuine 80's synth song
it's going to be big! In July RetroBlast will be one year old,
and to celebrate I'm going do something so special it'll knock
your socks off (I promise!) I'm planning on having great giveaways
all month long, along with a special grand prize that...well,
I don't want to spoil the surprise, do I? ;-)
PinMAME Revives Baby Pac-Man
I'd reported earlier about the new PinMAME-HW version
of PinMAME that can actually interface with real pinball hardware. Well, here's
Baby Pac-Man pinball revived by the use of PinMAME-HW! Very cool stuff.
Mystery Project On Hold
I've dropped a number of hints about a secret project I was working on, one
that was going to be unveiled at this year's E3 show. Unfortunately, there
have been some hitches, and the project is currently running behind schedule.
I'll reveal all as soon as I can.
The RetroBlast "joystick of the week" review is now up — this
time the review is of the Groovy
Game Gear OMNI-Stik Prodigy joystick (whew! say that mouthful five times
The Prodigy is a unique 4/8-way switchable joystick
with a special mounting plate. It's large and in charge, but how
does it perform? Check out the review for
all the heart-pounding details.
Kymaera Front End Updated
from RetroBlast spy Matt Apuzzo that Kymaera,
a multi-emulator front end, has been updated. It looks interesting — from
their web site:
"Kymaera is a multi-emulator Front End
for Windows. Kymaera is a 3rd generation front end , and was designed
to be a complete solution for an Arcade Cabinet. Kymaera supports
both vertical and horizontal layouts, and is completely user-configuable.
Kymaera is a fully skinnable front end, Skins can be created and
used on a per-emulator basis, or shared between emulators."
Genie" Front End
I'm just starting work on a review of Custom
Arcade's Arcade Genie front end for MAME. It sports a slick interface,
and also supports the Daphne Laserdisc game emulator (for games such as Dragon's
Lair). Even better, it includes a Jukebox program!
I'm going to be test driving it for a few days,
but I'll be sure and post here when the review is complete.
Plus 4/8-way Switching Video Updated
I just realized this week that the video I have showing the T-Stik Plus 4/8-way
switching mechanism would be a lot more informative if I showed the actual "lift
and twist" action from both the top and the bottom of the joystick.
I've shot the new footage, and the video has
now been updated: you can view
it in the review, or click
here for just the new video.
Pick Your Joystick Review
you haven't visited the RetroBlast front
page this week, you might not have seen the new poll — as
I have had a lot of different requests for "priority" on
the joystick reviews, I thought I'd let a vote decide which joystick
I'll review next week.
This week the joystick roundup review is going
to be of the GroovyGameGear
OmniStik Prodigy, a very nice switchable 4/8 way joystick with
an integrated mounting plate. Next week, the joystick roundup review
will be of whatever joystick wins in the poll.
Remote Battery Kit Reviewed
I've just posted my review of the PinGizmos'
Remote Battery Kit, a device designed to allow you to mount the backup
batteries in your pinball machine away from the main circuit board.
Why would you want to do this, and is the PinGizmos'
solution worth the money? Read
the review and find out.
It was just pointed out to me that I had made a mistake in the Joystick
Roundup Chart, specifically the price of the Ultimarc T-Stik Plus joysticks.
The Ultimarc T-Stik Plus is actually $24, plus $6 if you want the "light
action" microswitches. The T-Stik Plus Balltop is $24 + $14 for the ball-top
handle. The prices are fixed now.
Madness Meets Myst
In the unusual game Ballance,
by Atari Games. Roll your ball around the course, solve puzzles, mutate
the ball into other materials (wood, stone, etc.), and try to reach the end.
It's got an entirely different flavor than Marble
Madness (you're going up most of the time, for example), and it
features some really lush 3D graphics. Thanks to Matt Apuzzo for
pointing it out!
This week's joystick review is of the XGaming Joystick, the same joystick used
in XGaming's X-Arcade controllers.
The XGaming joystick is closely modeled after
the Happs Super joystick, but how does it actually compare? Is
it a good choice for your next controller project? Check out the
review for all the exciting details.
Interview with Eugene Jarvis
at Gamespot there is another exciting interview with Eugene
Jarvis about his recently released arcade game Project: Terror.
Arcade Book Arrives
I just got my copy of Project
Arcade on Friday, and will be writing a review as soon as I can read through
all 476 pages. Written by John St. Clair, webmaster of the Arcade
Controls website, this is a great resource for cab builders.
Someone once told me in an email that it'd be
great if someone took all that great information on the Arcade
Controls site and put it in a book. Guess what? Someone has.
Video Game Manuals, Scanned
If you need a manual or a schematic related to video games, the
HQS site may be able to help. From their site:
HQS stands for High Quality Scans, which is a group
of people who wish to preserve video game documents in an electronic
format. We are in no way professional archivists; this is done
in our spare time and is solely funded by private donations. We
run a not-for-profit, advertisement-free website dedicated to our
Engine "RKD Classic" Plans Reviewed
I've just posted a new review of Arcade Engine's new RKD Classic cabinet plans.
A complete set of instructions for building a cab, from what tools to buy to
how to wire up the coin door, this guide even includes such nice extras as
printable construction templates and even some nice artwork to put on the finished
cab! Check out the RetroBlast review for
all the details.
Arcade Machines Running...Windows XP?
Yes, Taito is developing a new arcade system that will use PC components: "The
arcade manufacturer announced today that it has been working with Toshiba Personal
Computer Systems on the development of Type X, an arcade board based on Personal
Computer components and Windows XP Embedded software." Check
out the details at PC Games.
Online Gaming, Arcade Style!
How would you like to go to the arcade and play head-to-head against an Xbox
player on the other side of the world? Well, if a joint venture between Aruze
and Falcom to develop "Multi-Access Play" comes to fruition, that's
exactly what you'll be able to do. Check out Gamespot
news for the details.
Eugene Jarvis' New Arcade Game Unveiled
to IGN.com, "Target: Terror", a new video game from Robotron
and Defender creator Eugene Jarvis, has been officially announced. Battle terrorists
across the USA, protecting landmarks from terrorist attack.
It's Summer Time!
Well, my son just had his last day of school, so I wanted to post a warning
that updates to the site may be a bit slower as we adjust to a summertime
schedule around here. As much as I enjoy working on the site, I will be spending
more time outside, so reviews and news updates may not be quite as frequent.
My God, it's full of stars...
Even with the slower pace around here, I am working on something...wonderful
for the site. July is going to be an exciting month, as RetroBlast marks its
1-year anniversary in typical RetroBlast style. What exactly does that mean?
The Death of Classic Gaming?
Listen to the latest Retrogaming
Radio report and see if you agree that classic gaming is dying (a hint:
I don't). Still lots of good information, and a well presented case.
Killer List of Video Games (KLOV)
I realize this may be old hat for many here, but I wanted to point out the Killer
List of Video Games (KLOV), a great resource for information about arcade
games. It's got great details and photos about practically every video game
ever created. Need more games? The KLOV is actually part of the International
Arcade Museum site, with over 12,000 coin-operated games listed!
The Pinball Enthusiast's "KLOV"
If you need detailed information about pinball machines (similar to the Killer
List of Video Games), be sure and check out the Internet
Pinball Database. Good stuff there for a pinball fanatic, trust me!
Need an Arcade Break at Work?
Try the Shockwave
Arcade, a collection of classic video games that can be played in your
web browser. Not a bad use of modern technology, in my opinion!
Twin Galaxies' High Score Competition
There's an article on the "Citizens Online" site about the TwinGalaxies'
High Score Contest that was held over the weekend. Sounds like it was a
lot of fun!
New Keyboard Tester!
Here's a new and dramatic improvement over the KeyHook keyboard testing program
I previously had on the site: KeyThis!, by Chris Stuhr, which is now
available over on the RetroBlast File Downloads page.
Key This! also adds these benefits:
- Shows key combinations.
- Has better detection of left and right SHIFT/ALT/CTRL keys.
- Recognizes left and right Windows keys and the context menu key.
- Able to differentiate the numeric keypad functions when "num lock" is
on and off.
- View real-time Windows parameters.
- Shows Caps Lock/Num Lock/Scroll Lock status on screen.
- Continues to show keystrokes even when another application has focus.
It's a slick, efficient (10k!) program that should
prove invaluable to anyone with a keyboard encoder-based controller!
Thanks, Chris, for an excellent utility!
MAME .83 Released
Go and get your copy here.
MAME Cab as Ping Pong Scorer?
Yup, and foosball as well. Check out NaTaS'
MAME Project, where he wires up his foosball and ping pong tables to his
MAME cab so it can keep score of the games. (Thanks to Matt Apuzzo for the
with Frank Leibly of StarROMs
Tribune Article about Pinball Collectors
News article about the new interest in Retrogaming
Ch. 13 News about Videogame Collecting
PinMAME Interfaces With Real Pinball
Believe it or not, some PinMAME enthusiasts have found a way to interface
PinMAME with a real pinball machine. This could potentially become very
useful in the future as the CPU boards in pinball machines begin to die and
replacement parts become harder to find — just pop in a PC with
Hardware PinMAME, and you're good to go! (Thanks to Matt Apuzzo for the news)
MAMEWAH Gets Knocked Over
...and turned into VertiWAH,
a vertically-oriented front end for MAME. If you've got a vertical monitor
in your MAME cab, this looks to be a great front end.
Cabinet Kits Now Shipping!
Yes, the popular "Ultimate Arcade II" cabinet design from MAMERoom
(plans reviewed here)
available in pre-fab kit form. Professionally CNC-cut pieces make this
kit look like a great time-saver for those who want to build a cab but run
in fear at the sight of of a table saw. Thanks to Matt Apuzzo for the news!
Classic Video Games Championship This
Yes, this weekend there is going to be a huge
retrogaming competition, sponsored by TwinGalaxies, to set new high scores
on classic arcade games. Here's a nice
article about the competition in the Wisconsin State Journal. If you've
got the skills, now's the time to plan a quick road trip to one of the four
Taito Developing "Space Invaders
Yes, the repackaging of classic games for modern consoles continues, this time
with Space Invaders, which Taito is developing for the PS2 and PC platforms. According
to Gamers.com, this new version will include nine variants, including a
new "3D" version. As with most remakes, I'd take a wait-and-see on
this one (anyone remember the Sinistar remake? Thought so...)
Retrogaming Article in the New York Times
Yes, the hobby of retrogaming is really starting to gain recognition — check
out this article in the New York Times entitled "Revenge
of Pac-Man: Vintage Games Are Back", which even features quotes from
Eugene Jarvis, creator of Robotron. We've come a long way, baby...
Review of the Week: Ultimarc T-Stik Plus
Yes, another mostly-weekly joystick review, this time of the Ultimarc
T-Stik Plus joystick, in both regular and balltop versions.
What's special about this joystick? How about
a simple "lift and twist" method of switching between
4-way and 8-way without opening up your control panel! Check out
the review for all the details on this unique short-throw joystick.
Linux MAME "Live CDs"
Found an interesting
article on the "Live CDs" that have been developed for MAME w/Linux.
Designed to be self booting, these are a way to enjoy that MAME goodness without
actually installing anything (great for work!)
Update on Steven Dent
I just wanted to post some more news about Steven Dent, the gamer with Cerebral
Palsy that I mentioned in my 5/18/04
news post, the one that was looking for a PS2 game controller that he
could use with his disabilities.
After a number of great suggestions (thanks,
everyone!), including the X-Arcade and QuadControl.com,
I got the following email from him:
Hi, I just found TOPMAX DOMINATOR 2 ARCADE STICK/PS2AC. It says ?analog/digital?
We will see if it is really analog. You can check it out at: http://www.gameexpress.com/product_detail.cfm?UPC=675333118779
I just bought it. I am hoping, it is going to be the key. Thanks for your help.
Hopefully he's found just what he needs for some
good gaming action. Good luck, Steven!
According to Sinistar
Sorry, not really "hard news", but I cracked up when I saw this: The
Philosophical Revelations of Sinistar, a look into the deep thoughts and
insights of one of the most feared video game characters of all time.
Need Help With a Game?
There are a couple of nice sites with walthroughs and tips/tricks for classic
arcade games: Roger's
Classic Arcade Tips and Tricks (RCATT) offers a variety of (drum roll,
please) classic arcade tips and tricks. The site's looking a bit moldy, though,
so you may want to check out the Classic
Games section of GameFAQS as well, as their site still seems alive and
The Ultimate Museum Exhibit
How would you like to see a museum exhibit about classic arcade games? How
about an actual arcade with over 100 of the most influential arcade games
of all time that you can actually play? Drooling yet? Well, check out Videotopia,
a mobile exhibit of arcade gaming history with everything from an original
1971 Computer Space, all the way up to the latest and greatest games. The
exhibit is available for booking — if you have any pull with your local
museum, this is the time to pull strings.
While you're there, be sure and check out their
list of the top
16 most influential arcade video games of all time. I don't
know if I completely agree with their list (Robotron's missing!),
but it does seem to be an honest attempt to highlight the groundbreaking
games that shaped the course of the arcade industry.
Another Possible D9200 Replacement (YAPDR)
One more monitor to investigate in my quest for the perfect MAME cabinet arcade
monitor, thanks to Ken
Layton over on the BYOAC forums: the Wei-Ya
Model 31 "Trisync" monitor (15/25/31Khz). The specs look very
similar to the D9200's, but I need to do some more research before I can tell
if it's a good choice (or even available in the US).
I've had several people ask me where they can find a sound file that sounds
like arcade background sounds. What you seek is the "Arcade
Ambiance Project", a collection of MP3 files that sound like, well,
an arcade. Imagine that...
The State of the Arcade Industry
Here's an interesting article I stumbled across, detailing the current
state of the arcade industry, circa 2004. It's an interesting read, and
it seems a good assesment of the current arcade gaming situation, even if it
is a bit depressing.
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