About the News...
Sorry about the slow news postings — I've actually been getting a lot
of great news items sent in, but things have been frantic around here this
week, and I haven't had the time to sort through them all. One of the reasons
I'm behind is:
Wow, there have been a flood of entries recently — about $900 worth so
far. Even with the shipping fees (and PayPal fees, curse them), I should have
enough funds to get another arcade monitor for a review and make a
nice donation to the MAMEworld dumping project. (I guess you can have your
cake and eat it too!)
TV Games Review
You've probably seen them in your local WalMart or toy store: Jakks TV Games,
a controller and game system all in one, for a ridiculously low price. Everything
from arcade classics to Atari 2600 titles, all ready to plug and play. So,
are they any good? Check out the review to find
Fascinating Raffle Suggestion
I just received a very interesting suggestion from James Robbins about the
raffle funds. He suggested that I use the funds to obtain other arcade monitors
for testing and reviews. Thinking about it, it's not such a bad idea. I could
even raffle off the monitor(s) after the review, keeping the monitor review
cycle going on (and on and on...)
know I've promised the raffle proceeds to the MAMEworld dumping
fund, but actually it's looking like I can do both: make a generous
donation to the dumping fund, and get a multisync arcade
monitor for a review (specifically, I'm thinking of reviewing the
Kortek KT-2914 from Betson).
What are your thoughts? Feel free to email
me with your feelings about this. I've also modified the
front page poll so you can vote with your opinion.
Arcades Cab Review
The written portion of the Dream Arcades cabinet is now up and ready for your
reading pleasure — just hop on over to the RetroBlast
Reviews page. This is a great cab, and trust me — someone's going
to be very, very happy when they win it!
Arcades Cabinet Video Review
The video portion of the RetroBlast review of the Dream Arcades' "Head-to-Head" cocktail
cabinet is now up. If you're curious to see what the grand prize really looks
like, hop on over to the Video Reviews page and
check it out! The written portion of the review should be finished soon.
Hamster Ball Price Bounces
The price for Raptisoft's Hamster
Ball has bounced around a lot lately. After dropping from $19.99 to $11.99
and then bouncing up to $14.99, the price has bounced back down to $11.99.
Don't ask me why, I have no idea. Thanks to David Schultz for the news!
Need Cool Games for your Cab?
Check out TimOProductions'
excellent list of "cab-friendly" PC games. Lots of cool stuff
here, and they've all got keyboard-configurable setups. Thanks to James McGovern
for the news!
Wondering where the retro-news is? Sorry
I haven't updated the news page yet today, but this is the reason
why. Pretty, ain't she? I'm working on the review and video of
Arcades cocktail cabinet, and barring any more disasters
(like dropping a panel on my toe, which I did today!) I should
have everything done by this weekend.
Hamster Ball Price Change
The $11.99 price for Raptisoft's
Hamster Ball that I mentioned here a week or so ago has now expired. Apparently,
it was a sale price. The current price is $14.99, still less than the original
A review of Superluminal's Defender-inspired game Guardian has just been posted
to the Reviews page, written by RetroBlast contributing
reviewer James McGovern. If you're a fan of Defender or Stargate, this is a
game you have to check out! Thanks, James!
I'm very happy to be posting a contributed review today, and wanted to invite
anyone who has a great retrogaming product or idea to consider writing it
up and submitting it to RetroBlast. Share your discoveries and opinions with
other retrogaming fanatics!
Game Gear KeyWiz Max Review
The RetroBlast review of Groovy Game Gear's KeyWiz Max 1.5 keyboard encoder
is now online. Sporting some unique features and a low price, how does it compare
to the Ultimarc IPAC? Head on over to the RetroBlast
Reviews Page and check it out!
New Creative 2.1 Speakers
This is from the "oops, I can't believe I forgot to post this" file:
Creative has a new "T2900" 2.1
speaker system, which includes an "audio control pod" which features
a volume control, bass level, line-in, and even a headphone jack! These look
to be an excellent set of speakers for a MAME cab, and they can be found for less
that $40. Thanks to Dan Hower for the news!
Joystick of the Week Delayed Just wanted to let you all know that this week's joystick
review will be delayed a bit so that I can crank out a couple of
other reviews, including my review of the Dream Arcades cabinet.
It's going to be a fun weekend! (and yes, I am a sad case...)
I just got my Asteroids pendant from Graphic
Violence, and I have to say it's a very nice piece of "Geek Chic" jewelry.
The metal medallion is about 1"x1.5" and has a nice, solid feel to
it. Plus, for just $7.99 it was just an irresistible "impulse buy" for
I just received the RetroBlast Grand Prize today! I'm going to be assembling
the Dream Arcades head-to-head
cocktail cabinet this weekend and reviewing it, so look for a review sometime
next week. Then it's back into the box, ready for shipment to whoever wins!
(Speaking of which, there are 330 entries in
the grand prize raffle so far, so your odds of winning are very
The Lemon Amiga forum is Launched
Man, the Amiga was the home computer/game machine back in the day
(I owned an Atari MegaST, but always envied the Amiga's 4096 color palette,
multitasking, and great sound). Direct from Kim Lemon:
In order to support the Amiga scene, the founder
of the Commodore 64 community Lemon64 (www.lemon64.com)
has spent the last few months working on an Amiga site. It's
named Lemon Amiga (http://www.lemonamiga.com) and will be a
sister site to Lemon64.
"The site will be launched within a few months, but until then they
have opened the Lemon Amiga forum (http://www.lemonamiga.com/forum).
So all you Amiga fans, join in and make yourself at home.
Special Sale on Perfect 360 Joysticks
Happ acquires Perfect 360 Controls. Happ has a sale
on Perfect 360 joysticks. Coincidence? I think not. Normally $46, they're
currently on sale for $25 until the end of this month. If you're thinking of
building a control panel, these are the joysticks to get, and this is
the time! Thanks to Matt Apuzzo for the news.
Happ Controls Acquired by Pfingsten Partners
Boy, this acquistion thing works both ways...Happ
Controls has been acquired by Pfingsten Partners, a captial investment
firm. It doesn't look like there will be any significant changes to the company,
which is good news. At least, I think that's good news...
Contest Mail Analysis
I'm starting to feel like Dr. Freud — reading through the contest entries
is like opening a weird, twisted, window on many of your souls. Some of you
I worry about! Oh, and that's a picture of Daniel, who is either very happy
or is about to punch me if his dad doesn't win!
I've just made a quick mid-course correction for this week's contest, and will
be adding a full-sized MAME Marquee from Classic Arcade Grafix for
each winner of this week's daily grab bag giveaways!
Communist Videogame Recovered!
One of only three
surviving Poly Play video games from East Germany has now been placed in
Swindon's Museum of Computing in Great Britain. It's not much of a looker,
but this 8-in-1 game is a unique piece of history, and it's still operational.
Thanks to Ron Brown and Derek Eskens for the news!
Project Arcade Giveaways!
John St. Clair has generously donated two signed copies of his Project Arcade
book for the RetroBlast giveaways this month! Keep an eye out on the RetroBlast
front page for when they'll be given away. Thanks, John!
Preliminary Incoming RSS Newsfeed
As you can see on the right-hand side of the news page, I've implemented an
RSS newsfeed. The news is filtered according to keywords, so it's not 100%
pure retrogaming news yet, and I've still got a few kinks to work out, but
I'm working on refining it. I plan on adding new newsources as I find them,
and I'm going to look into converting RetroBlast's news into an RSS newsfeed
A Remote Control for Your Cab "Lokki" over
in the BYOAC forums pointed out this unique remote-controlled power
and reset switch system (which looks very similar to a car's
remote keyless entry!) While the review mentions an Australian
reseller, Lokki also mentioned that he's seen the remote switch
in Fry's for about $30.
How I Spent My Site's Birthday...
Appropriately enough, playing games. One of the curses of reviewing games and
gaming hardware is that I actually have less time to just "play around" when
playing games. Sound strange? I never get to just pick a favorite game and
try to beat my high score anymore — I'm always analyzing controller
performance, making mental notes of what I like and dislike about a game,
and so on.
So this weekend I put all my reviews-in-progress
up on a virtual shelf, fired up the MAMEframe, and just started
playing. No projects, no reviews, just the thrill of victory and
the agony of defeat. I had a blast, and it helped remind me why
I started this site in the first place. Game on, dudes!
Perfect Gameroom Decorations
Check it out: Space
Invaders wall decals! These fairly large (13" dia) graphics are sold
by ThinkGeek.com, and
come in a pack with two of each invader type, a base, and a bunch of missles.
Plus, they're self-adhesive and (even better) removable. And check out the
groovy colors — Space Invaders never looked this good! Thanks to Chaz
White for tipping me off. I'm going to have to order a set or two for my "home
Arcade '84 Poster! I've
mentioned the great "Arcade
'84" video in the RetroBlast news before, but now it
looks like there's a
poster of the same great "virtual arcade" that
was shown in the digitally-rendered animation. (If you haven't
seen the animation yet, be sure and click on the link above.
If you ever stepped into a mall arcade in the early eighties,
this will really bring back memories.
Tekken 5 Arcade Game Debuts
The arcade version of Tekken 5 has been previewed in Japan, in a 2-cabinet
system with a 42-inch plasma display and built-in networking! Very
cool, at least until you see the price tag of $28,500. There are news items
about the game's debut on SlashDot, the-magicbox.com,
This Week's Prize Package Okay,
time to unveil this week's weekly prize (via the department of
redunancy department?): This week RetroBlast will be giving away
a SlikStik Tornado spinner and three skirted aluminum knobs:
blue, purple, and green. Entry details can be found on the RetroBlast
Home Page. C'mon, you know you want it...
Video Games Play Into Retro Craze
"Craze"? Well, I guess it beats "insanity." Anyway, check
out the article over in the Detroit
News Techology pages about how what's old is new again, especially when it
comes to video games.
Okay, today marks the official one-year anniversary of RetroBlast. The site
has grown a lot, faster than I had expected. When I set out to create RetroBlast,
my goal was to create a "companion" site to both MAMEworld.net and ArcadeControls.com,
two sites that have been invaluable resources for me. I hope I've succeeded,
and that you've found the site useful in your quest for RetroGaming nirvana — there's
lots more to come!
And The Winner of the Ultimarc Package
Jeff Pendleton! Jeff, you've got email. I'll announce the weekly prize for
next week tomorrow morning, and the daily prizes starting on Monday morning.
Hamster Ball Price Cut
John Raptis of Raptisoft let
me know that they've lowered the price on Hamster
Ball from $19.99 to an amazingly low $11.99! The game was a bargain IMO
at the old price, and this makes it all the more attractive.
What Video Game Character Are You?
Here's my result, which is kind of eerie considering the RetroBlast logo in
the upper-left hand corner of this page! I
am a Defender-ship. I am fiercely protective of my friends and loved
ones, and unforgiving of any who would hurt them. Speed and foresight are
my strengths, at the cost of a little clumsiness. I'm most comfortable
with a few friends, but sometimes particularly enjoy spending time in larger
Video Game Character Are You?
Reminder: Weekly Drawing Tomorrow Morning!
Time is running out to enter this week's drawing for the Ultimarc prize package.
I'll be drawing the winner tomorrow morning (hopefully before noon, but I
may sleep in ;-), so be sure and visit the RetroBlast
front page and enter if you want a chance at winning!
SmartStrip LCG4 Special Orders
I just got word from RetroBlast reader Greg Thorpe that Bits
Limited has now started "stealth selling" the LCG4
SmartStrip that I reviewed a few months ago. This is the successor to the
popular LCG1 SmartStrip, with improved surge suppression and adjustable control
outlet sensitivity. To order the LCG4, select the LCG1 and then type in the "special
instructions" section that you wish to order the LCG4. The LCG4 is only
$2 more than the LCG1. Thanks for the news, Greg!
New Retrogaming Radio
After a one-month hiatus, Retrogaming
Radio is back, this time with a three-hour show. Wow, that's a
lot of retrogaming talk. (Grrr...they discuss and link to my Retrogaming
and TV Commercials article yet never actually mention RetroBlast!)
Here's a pic of the new BYOAC
arcade tokens, fresh from the mint. They look absolutely fantastic — the
design on these tokens is far more complex than your normal arcade token (check
out a Chuck E. Cheese token sometime!), and yet it still came out cleaner and
sharper than the simpler designs. There are still tokens available (click the
link for details). Be still, my retro-geek heart...
X-Keys Keyboard Strip I've
just added a new set of buttons to my MAMEframe: the
X-Keys Stick by P.I. Engineering. This is a 16-button programmable
keyboard strip, with a shift feature to allow 32 different macros
to execute. Yes, macros. You can program any sequence
of keystrokes to each key, and even save them in non-volatile
flash memory! Did I mention that the keys have removable
keytops so you can put in your own key legends or that the keys
are backlit? Well, now I have. ;-) Look for a review
in a few weeks.
BYOAC Tokens Have Arrived
Just spotted this
post on the BYOAC forums that the custom brass BYOAC tokens have arrived.
No pics yet, but tonight I expect some will be posted. It'll be about another
week before the nickel-plated version of the tokens are ready.
I received a package containing three
TV retro-gaming systems from Jakks Pacific today: Ms. Pac-Man, Classic
Pinball Arcade, and Atari Paddle TV Games. The Atari paddle system actually
includes a full Atari 2600 emulator! I'll be reviewing all three games soon
(or at least as soon as I can stop playing them!)
Cool MAME Patches
Alan Kamrowski II has just released updated versions of his excellent
MAME patches. What's so excellent about them? How about these new features: increase as
well as decrease game volume, skip warning screens, jump over the "boot" cycle
in many games, force 60fps in games, a patch for improved sound in Donkey Kong
and Donkey Kong Jr. (including new samples), and (TV announcer mode) much,
Cool ROM Hacks
Got a real arcade game? Be sure to check out Jeff's
ROMHack, where Jeff sells enhanced ROMs for many games. These improved
ROMs add a freeplay mode and other cool things, such as a new level for Donkey
Kong! There are enhanced ROMs for Dragons Lair and Space Ace that actually
access previously unused game footage found on the laser discs! Very cool reading,
even if you don't actually own one of the arcade games.
hope I win, I hope I win...
I always love browsing through the email contest entries — since I don't
require anything in the body of the emails, some people feel the need to at
least put something in there.
Besides the nice comments about
the site and the contest (thanks!), I've gotten pictures (that's
a picture of Sydney, who is apparently very anxious for her father
to win) and even haiku poetry (thanks, Ron!):
Monkey Ball Came Close
Marble Madness With Hamsters
Seems To Make More Sense
of the Week
The holiday weekend delayed last week's joystick review a bit (yes, I do have
a life outside of RetroBlast! ;-), but here it finally is, a review of the
Ultimarc E-Stik joystick.
This is a unique "easy-mount" joystick
that even includes a special feature for fans of Q-Bert. What is
it? Head on over to the RetroBlast Reviews
page and see!
DoS Attack Temporarily Disables
Someone launched a DoS (Denial of Service) attack against RetroBlast this morning,
and consequently the site was pulled by my hosting company. Obviously, if you're
reading this the site has since been reinstated, but it could vanish again
just as quickly if the problem continues. I'll do what I can to keep RetroBlast
Tuesday's Grab Bag Winner
Congrats to Andrew Lattof, winner of the second grab bag copy of Hamster Ball!
Andrew actually contributed a review
of the Smart Strip back in February 2003, back when RetroBlast was still
just a dream and I had a small personal web site called "The MAMEframe
Arcade Machine". Congrats, Andrew!
First Grab Bag Winner!
The first daily grab bag winner is "CaptainVeg," who wins a free
registered copy of Hamster Ball.
Grab Bag Entries Clarification
This week, there is no need to enter again each day for the daily grab bag,
since the prizes are identical each day. When I start offering a different
prize each day, I will be "flushing" the entries after each daily
drawing, so you'll need to enter each day there's a prize you'd like to win.
E-Stik Review Coming
The "joystick of the week" review is running a bit late due to the
holiday weekend, but I'm working on it now and should have it done soon. Stay
Who MADLights "How-To" Article
It took a while, but I've just finished up my article on how I added a "MADLights" PC
lighting mod to my Doctor Who pinball machine's mini-playfield. If you've got
a Bally Doctor Who pinball machine, this is a great addition to your machine.
If you don't, well, you'll get to see the insides of a pinball machine. Head
on over to the Retrogaming Articles page for
all the details.
Weekly Contest Begins!
The first weekly giveaway has started, a great package from Ultimarc! Hurry
up and jump over to the RetroBlast front page and
enter (it's free). The first daily grab bag will begin tomorrow.
Speaking of Ultimarc, it looks like Andy has revised
the IPAC2 layout somewhat. It actually looks like an extremely clean design,
which could theoretically allow the unit to be mounted to allow external access
to the keyboard ports. He's also added a diagnostic LED and auto-switching
between USB and PS/2 keyboard modes. In addition, Andy is now offering a $35 "VE" economy
version that is USB-only and comes with free shipping. Very cool stuff!
Hamster Ball Review Updated
I've just finished the update of the Hamster
Ball Review to reflect the changes in version 2.0. This also marks the
first use of the new "RetroBlast Recommended" logo. Check it out!
1 Power and Reset Remote
Now here's something that looks like it was custom-designed for the MAME cab
builder — the Ignition
1 Power and Reset Remote, a wired external power switch that connects to
the motherboard in your MAME PC. This looks ideal for adding a cool-looking
external power switch on a cab!
I just wanted to clear up a few details about the contest: there will be three
separate contests going on simultaneously: daily and weekly free giveaways,
and a month-long raffle for the grand prize. The daily and weekly giveaways
will begin tomorrow, but the grand prize raffle has already begun — ($1
per virtual "ticket").
MAME 0.84 Released! Hop on over to MAME.net.
Hamster Ball 2.0 Video Review I've just finished updating the Hamster
Ball video review to reflect the changes in Hamster Ball 2.0,
including the new 2-player races and 1-4 player "Rodent Rumble" arenas.
If you liked Hamster Ball version 1.0, you're
going to love 2.0! I'll try and update the written review sometime
this weekend. If I don't, you'll know I'm busy having a happy U.S.
Fourth of July celebration!
RetroBlast's DNS is now pointing at the new host, and aside from some glitches
with the front page surveys, all is well. There was a brief problem with email
during the transfer, so if you got a bounced email, just try again.
Christmas in July!
Check the RetroBlast front page — the contest
has begun! The daily and weekly contests begin on July 4th, but you can enter
the raffle for the grand prize immediately. What's the grand prize? Go check
out the front page already!
Domain Name Moving
The RetroBlast domain name is now in the process of moving to the new hosting
provider, so sometime soon the old site will stop working. I'm trying to
make this as smooth as possible for everyone, but please let me know if you
can't get to the site!