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January 2005 News Archive

1/31/05

Man Gives Away Video Arcade
No, it's not a hoax: a businessman in Claremont, N.H, is looking to give away The Jester's Court, a video arcade he started. Check out this article for the full story.

Pure Pinball 2.0 Redux
Pure Pinball ReduxIt's been a long time since there was a pinball game released for the PC. Well, thanks to Fusion Labs, the drought is over, thanks to their release of Pure Pinball 2.0 Redux. While it looks like it's basically a port of their previously released X-Box Pure Pinball game, I'm still grateful to see any new pinball games for the PC.

New Video Pinball
Here's an article about Incredible Technologies' new prototype video pinball game, called "Orange County Choppers." While I personally don't think video can every really completely replicate the "true" pinball experience, I'm still a fan of video pinball, especially when the real thing isn't handy.

An Accessible Vectrex Controller
Now here is something you don't see every day: instructions on how to mod a Vectrex game system for disabled access. The Vectrex, in case you don't know, was a vector-based home game system from the 1980's, and is still highly sought after by vector game fans.

1/30/05

Stinger Review Now Ready
The StingerThe RetroBlast review of Game Cabinet Inc.'s Stinger Control Panel is now online and available over on the Product Reviews page. This panel's got the best wiring job I've ever seen, so how does the rest of the control panel measure up? Check out the review!

And the SlikStik Solitaire Winner is...
Bob Barton! Congrats, Bob! I'll be shipping out your SlikStik Solitaire this week.

This Week's Giveaway
The last weekly RetroBlast giveaway (at least for now!) is for the Stinger control panel that I just reviewed (a $449 value!). Full details on how to enter the giveaway are on the RetroBlast Front Page.

1/29/05

MAME 0.91 Released
Full details and downloads are available over at MAME.net — enjoy!

Last Day for the Solitaire Giveaway!
SlikStik Solitaire Control PanelJust a reminder that today is the last day to enter the free giveaway for the SlikStik Solitaire control panel. I'll be picking a winnner tomorrow morning, whenever I manage to wake up. If you haven't already, be sure to read the RetroBlast review of this excellent controller, and visit the front page to enter if you want a chance to win!

Raffle News
The raffles are looking to have pretty good odds right now: there have been about 475 entries in the D9200 raffle, and about 350 for the Dream Arcades cabinet. Just a reminder: the D9200 goes for about $470 (plus approx. $60 in shipping costs) and the Dream Arcades cabinet goes for $899 (once again about $60 to ship). These are big prizes, and your odds of winning are still very good. The raffles go until 2/16/05, so you've still go some time to enter (the RetroBlast front page has full details).

1/28/05

Birth of a New Control Panel
Mockup of Sean's New ControllerThis picture is of a preliminary mock-up of a special controller being designed for Sean, a quadriplegic gamer. The volunteers in the BYOAC forums, led by James McGovern (ace contributing RetroBlast reviewer), are doing some really great work, and there are donations of cash and parts coming in from gaming equipment makers and ordinary gaming enthusiasts who can't bear the thought of someone not being able to play videogames. Check out the full thread, and help out if you can!

New Coin-Op.TV Interview
Straight from Pennyman: "Season One of Coin-op.TV continues in 2005 with Taryn Southern interviewing Michael Hally at the California Extreme show 2004. Michael's career as a game designer with ATARI spans over 28 years. Designer of the classic arcade hits like Gravitar, Star Wars and Area 51."

I Bought an XBox
Kev bought an XBox?Yup, I've finally been pulled, kicking and screaming, into 21st century gaming. So why did I buy an XBox? To help with an upcoming review of an exciting new retrogaming product that (natch) works with an XBox. It also works with a PC, so this is going to be a "must see" review. I'll post more details once things are finalized, but I'm excited about this one.

1/27/05

All Emulation is Illegal
There is a fascinating look at copyright law over on Curmudgeon Gamer, specifically with how copyrights apply to ROMs and emulation. It's a must read, and really highlights the murky legal waters that surround emulation.

Pro Pinball Reborn (and other ATEI News)
Pro Pinball CabinetThere's some fresh news about the ATEI amusement technology expo over on the Pinball News site.

Their coverage includes a lot of pictures of Stern's upcoming Sopranos pinball, based on the popular HBO series.

What caught my eye, however, were the pictures of the upcoming Pro Pinball arcade cabs further down the page (see pic on right)! Yes, someone's adapted the classic Pro Pinball simulations for arcade use, and they look terrific. The design of the Pro Pinball cabinet looks ideal for a home PinMAME cabinet, by the way...

Classic Arcade Games Make a Comeback
Well, the Jakks versions do, anyway, according to this article. Nostalgia + Gameplay = Timeless Classics.

1/26/05

MAMEWAH 1.6 Released
I missed this last week, but MAMEWAH has been updated to version 1.6, and the MAMEWAH site has been redone as well. The newer versions are a bit harder to setup, but it's still a good frontend.

The Bastard Son of the Real MAMEframe
It looks like someone finally put up a site at MAMEframe.com (the site was previously held by Quantum3D, who still owns a copyright on the phrase "MAMEframe"!). No text on the site, but it sure looks like someone's planning on introducing another style of MAME cabinet!

A Pinball Collecting Wizard
Here's an interesting article about a diehard pinball collector. How diehard? Try 400 machines, and counting!

Arcade Games by the Hour
Here's a unique twist for an arcade: pay by the hour for unlimited free plays, and you can even BYOB!

1/25/05

A New Video Review!
The Stinger Control Panel"At last!" shouts the crowd, as Kevin stumbles from the wilderness with a new RetroBlast video review in hand. "This time I bring a review of the Stinger Control Panel from Game Cabinets Inc.," he cries, "a full-sized all-in-one panel with some unique design features." All is revealed over on the RetroBlast Video Reviews page...(written review coming as soon as my meds wear off! ;-)

Cleveland Coin Machine Exchange Bought Out
Perhaps not international news, but amusement machine distributor Cleveland Coin Machine Exchange has been bought out by competitor Shaffer Distributing. The industry shrinks again...

Play "Every Video Game" Online
Online emulators are not new, but the "Every Videogame" site has a fairly large collection of them. From the Nintendo Entertainment System to the Gameboy to Arcade Games, they're all here and waiting for you to play. A great way to kill some time during your lunch hour!

Great Ms. Pac-Man Restoration
If you'd like to see how dedicated some people are to preserving arcade history, look no further than "Gunbu's Beauty Parlor", where he meticulously restores a Ms. Pac-Man cabinet, bringing it back from near-death. Amazing work.

BYOAC Board Failure Makes CNN News!
Click on graphic for full size picture!No, not really (Click on the graphic for the full fake news page — thanks James!). The forums over at arcadecontrols.com are down, though, causing undue anxiety in thousands of hard core arcade geeks.

Update: the board is up and running again. Balance has been restored in the universe...

1/23/05

And the X-Arcade Winner is...
Robert Helvie! Congrats, Robert!

This Week's Giveaway Contest
This week, I'm giving away a SlikStik Solitaire controller! To enter, visit the RetroBlast front page and click on the link. I'll announce the winner next Sunday.

1/22/05

Last Day for X-Arcade Giveaway!
X-Arcade Control PanelJust a reminder: I'm going to be picking the winner of the X-Arcade control panel tomorrow morning (whenever I get up ;-), so you've got one more day to enter if you want a chance to win — visit the RetroBlast front page to enter.

1/21/05

Ultimate Arcade Cabs
Ultimate CabsThink you've got the coolest cab around? Think again. Here are a trio of fantastic arcade cabs, some of which you may actually find in an arcade (okay, maybe not the flight simulator). The one from FAO Swartz can be had for a measly $300,000, but I suspect the other ones are cheaper. Here are the links:

Tsumo Multi-Game Motion System

FAO Swartz Morphis ESP Motion Simulator

Trio-Tech Ballistics

Possible Site Outage Tomorrow (or Today!)
RetroBlast's hosting company, LunarPages, has just announced that they are moving their datacenter server operations to a new building tomorrow. As a result, each of their servers will be down for approximately twenty minutes sometime on the 22nd. At least, that's the plan. I've already seen the site go down today, so I'm not optimistic. We'll see how smoothly this goes, but if RetroBlast disappears for a while, now you know why...

1/20/05

MAME Content Manager 2.0
MAME Content ManagerDouglas Good has released version 2.0 of his excellent MAME Content Manager (MCM). With over 4,000 games, wielding a full set of MAME games can be, well, unwieldy. MAME Content Manager makes removing games from your set a cinch. Whether you're removing adult ROMs because of the kids, or you just don't like Majhong games, MCM makes trimming the ROM fat a breeze.

New MCM.ini Filters File
Want even more power in filtering and thinning your MAME ROM set? Max Hutchison has developed MCM.ini, a greatly expanded filter file for MAME Content Manager. This file, which can be used by MCM in place of the standard catver.ini file, gives you a lot more power in selecting the games you wish to remove from your full MAME ROM set. The file is being hosted here on RetroBlast, so visit the File Downloads page if you'd like a copy!

Mutant Storm on XBox
Mutant StormNow this is cool news, if you're an XBox owner: Mutant Storm, one of my favorite modern arcade-style shooters, has been released for the XBox, as part of the XBox Arcade Classics online delivery system. If you're a fan of Robotron-style shoot-em-up action, this is a definite must-have game. Almost makes me want an XBox!

Video Tour of Stern's Pinball Factory
Gary Stern Tests a Pinball MachineInterested in how Stern, the last surviving pinball company, actually makes the machines? Check out this video tour of the Stern Pinball Factory, where they show you how they build and test their new pinball machines.

Watch as a Simpson's Pinball Party machine is assembled and prepped for shipping. The video tour is hosted by the company president, Gary Stern, and produced by his daughter.

1/19/05

The Ultimate Visual Pinball Interface
Phillips Virtual Pinball ControllerNow this is a pinball controller! The Phillips Virtual Pinball controller includes a plunger, pinball buttons, and even three tilt sensors. It's also the same width as a standard pinball machine. It's too bad that they don't actually make them anymore...sigh...

1/18/05

Pinball Parts List Generator
Here's an extremely handy online database: A Pinball Parts List Generator. Simply select the pinball machine(s) you want and get a list of all the parts used, or put in a part number and get a list of all the machines that used that part. Very handy when you're repairing a machine or looking for that hard-to-find replacement part.

MAME Bittorrent Database
Want to get the latest ROMs for your MAME collection quickly? Try out Petr1fied's MAME Bittorrent Tracker, a great online community of people sharing ROMs (and snaps, flyers, etc.) via Bit Torrent. They've also got Visual Pinball tables and ROMs, as well as files for other emulators, so it's a great resource for all emulation fans.

1/17/05

The Stinger
The Stinger Control PanelI've just started working on my review of Game Cabinets Inc. "Stinger" control panel. It's got some nice construction touches, including a plateless trackball mount, and I'm really looking forward to giving this control panel a thorough playtesting for the review (yeah, that's it..."playtesting" ;-). Stay tuned.

SlikStik XBox Adapter Coming Soon
Just spotted this blurb over on the SlikStik site: "SlikStik Controllers Now Xbox Compatible! We are proud to announce that official Xbox support for SlikStik controllers has been tested and implemented. More information will be available once the adaptors become available in our online store within the next 2 weeks."

Akron Pinball and Gameroom Expo
The first annual Akron Pinball and Gameroom Expo will be held this year on March 4th and 5th at the Thomastown Party Center in Akron, Ohio. They're promising at least 100 pinball machines set on free play, plus lots of vendors of gameroom stuff as well as pinball auctions. Should be a lot of fun, and I'm planning on attending, so let me know if you're going to be there!

Modifying a Tornado Spinner
Bill's Tornado ModBill Krick has posted a web page documenting his mod to add Oscar Controls optic boards to a SlikStik tornado, in order to connect the Tornado to an Ultimarc Opti-PAC interface. It's got some great shots of his Dremel work, so be sure to check it out!

"MAME Cab Friendly" PC Games
One of many cab-friendly gamesI don't know if I've ever mentioned this page, but even if I have it deserves another news post: TimO Productions has a great page listing modern PC arcade-style games that are "MAME Cab Friendly," i.e., they can run at lower resolutions and have remappable controls.

1/16/05

Oops...
The contest email address was inactive this afternoon, so any entries bounced. The account is now active again, so if you're interested in the weekly giveaway, please enter again.

Also note, I've added a requirement for name/address/phone# in the body of the entry email. Just too many chances to cheat with email entries, and I want this to be as fair as possible.

The Contests Have Begun!
A new year, a new RetroBlast contest: this time, it's all big ticket items, with two very big raffles and three nearly-as-big giveaways.

How big is "very big"? The raffles are for a Wells-Gardner D9200 arcade monitor and a Dream Arcades Side-by-Side Cocktail Gaming System, complete with PC and monitor.

How big is "nearly-as-big"? How about three control panels: an X-Gaming X-Arcade 2-player unit, a SlikStik Solitaire, and an absolutely loaded Game Cabinets Inc. Stinger!

Visit the RetroBlast Front Page for full details, and good luck!

1/14/05

This is so wrong...
Pac-Man? Ow...Okay, I can understand an operator converting an arcade game when it stops earning. Happens all the time. Still, this one hurts: a Pac-Man conversion of the classic Computer Space machine, an extremely rare game that kicked off the videogame revolution. Saddest part, is that it's probably not possible to undo the damage, due to the extreme rarity of parts for Computer Space. Be sure and check out the entire Computer Space site for more details on this classic game.

Classic Antiques
Check out this Foxtrot cartoon. And cry.

Pinball Hall of Fame for PS2
If you're a fan of pinball sims and have a PS2 or Xbox, be sure and check out the Pinball Hall of Fame: Gottlieb Collection (Even includes a personal fave of mine, Black Hole — kind of makes me wish I had a console...) Thanks to Brian Williams for the news!

1/13/05

Converting Your Cab to Token Operation
Converting to Token OperationHere it (finally) is, my first RetroBlast article of 2005: how to convert your cab over to token or coin operation. I document the conversion of all of my machines, including wiring up my MAME cabinet for tokens. Want that last extra bit of "arcade authenticity" for your games? Go to the Retrogaming Articles page to see how I did it.

1/12/05

World's Smallest Trackball?
Pic is just about actual size!Thanks to a post on alt.games.mame by Ernest Kemp, I've now seen what could be the smallest commercial trackball ever built. How small? How about 8mm (.315 inches for metric-challenged Americans)? Designed for use in products like mobile phones, this is one tiny trackball. It even has LED backlighting options!

PinMAME 1.51 Released
Quite a few changes for a .01 update (list of changes). For those that don't know, PinMAME emulates the pinball hardware needed to handle the display, scoring, and sound (the "computer" portion of the pinball machine). When combined with Visual Pinball, you've got the means to recreate nearly every pinball machine ever made (Here's a great guide to Visual PinMAME).

The Philosophy of Pinball
The Pinball MachineActually, it's more like pinball as a metaphor for life. This well-done video about God, entitled "The Pinball Machine," uses a pinball game as a visual centerpiece to present a Christian perspective on fate and destiny. It's thought-provoking without being preachy, and it's got pinball! 'Nuff said...

1/11/05

Great Pinball "How-To" DVD's
This Old PinballI just bought a couple of the "This Old Pinball" restoration and repair DVDs, specifically TOP #3 "Lost in the Zone", and #4, "Pinball Ain't Dead, It Just Smells Funny." They're great instructional videos with a very informal, quirky style. It's obvious that "Norm" and "Shaggy" had a lot of fun making the videos, and there's a lot of good repair information, served up with a smile. I'll be writing a full review of the DVDs soon.

Arcade Game FAQs
Looking for a good guide for winning at Robotron, or just want to know some tips and tricks for Defender? You can find a lot of great game information over at the GameFAQs site, which has a section specifically for arcade games.

1/10/05

Coin-Op.TV's New BBS
Direct from Coin-Op.TV: "The Coin-Op.TV BBS has undergone a major revision and we would like to welcome everyone to stop by and check it out! The Boards will now be moderated and new sections have been added. One of the biggest changes is the addition of a "Show Ideas" section. We are hoping to get feedback on what viewers would like to see next."

NeverBall
NeverballHere's another cool arcade-style game, and freeware no less! Neverball is billed as "part puzzle game, part action game, and entirely a test of skill." It's an OpenGL 3D-accelerated game in the spirit of Marble Madness, but with a twist or two. It's a blast to play, and there are versions for Windows, OSX, and Linux!

Contests Coming Soon!
Yes, I can't seem to stop having contests...the latest one will be revealed in a couple of days, but be sure and check out the RetroBlast front page for a sneak peak!

1/9/05

How to Use Alan's MAME Patches
To use Alan's MAME patches (which patch the MAME source code) you'll need to compile a version of MAME using the instructions on compiling MAME over at MAME.net. Direct from Alan:

Yes, I always extract the mame source to c:\mingw\mame. You then copy the patches into c:\mingw\mame as well. SRC should be a subfolder of c:\mingw\mame. Then run patch.bat and it should say each one is ok and prompt you to apply.

Once everything's patched the way you want, all you need to do is complie a new MAME executable according to the directions on MAME.net, and presto! Lots of cool new features. If you've never compiled a version of MAME before, don't let it intimidate you — follow the instructions to the letter, and it's actually very simple.

1/8/05

The Broken Token
I really loved this: "The Pathetic Story of the Broken Token," a true tale of woe from an arcade-addicted kid with an urge to beat the system but a definite lack of skills. It's a hilarious tale of token butchery, and something I might have done in my youth.

An Excellent Set of MAME Improvements, All In Convenient Patch Form (NEW LINK)

(I've had a couple of requests for Alan's MAME patches, since the URL mentioned in my March news post was no longer correct. I've found the file and updated the URL. Here's the News Item with a correct link.)

Have you ever wished you could make a game in MAME louder? Get rid of the game warnings screens (such as video emulation not 100% accurate)? How about smoothing out the frame rate so it exactly matches your screen refresh? Or skipping a game's initialization displays?

All this and more is available in this excellent set of patches from Alan Kamrowski II (SA Dev). Just run the included batch file, choose the features you want patched, and once you compile the modified source code the new features will then be available in MAME as startup flags (such as "-skip_startup_frames").

These are some great features, and can be used to really improve the "MAME Experience," especially on cabs — for example, you can startup Galaga in 2 seconds instead of 16 (and skip the initalization displays) by adding "-ssf 870" to the game initialization (which skips the first 870 frames).

1/7/05

Over 20,000 Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga Arcade Machines Sold
Looks like retrogaming is alive and well: Namco's repackaged Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga combo arcade games have now sold over 20,000 units. Pretty impressive numbers for video games that are now over 20 years old...

1/6/05

I Love eBay...
Santa Likes Pinball, too!Sometimes you find some of the coolest things on eBay — like this Pinball-playin' Santa ornament, for example, that I acquired right before Christmas. It plugs into your light string, and plays pinball sounds and lights the LED pop bumpers when you pull the plunger to launch the tiny pinball inside. It's dated 1996 from Hallmark, but in my opinion it's timeless.

Upgrades, Updates, and New Installs
Sorry for the lack of news, I'm in the middle of a bunch of software upgrades and "switchovers", including replacing my firewall and anti-virus software. In other words, I'm still fine-tuning everything so that I can actually get on the Internet without setting off alerts. ;-)

1/5/05

MAME 0.90 Released
Looks like there are a lot of fixes and change, plus a handful of new games and clones. Get it at MAME.net.

1/4/05

The BattleChair
The Battle ChairOkay, confession time: I honestly don't think this is a MAME or Retrogaming product, but for high-end PC shooters, this looks like a cool chair to have. The Battlechair merges a set of 5.25" 3-way speakers and an 8" subwoofer into an office chair for quick 'n easy 5.1 surround sound gaming (in combination with your desktop speakers). Just thought it was too cool not to mention...

1/3/05

RetroBlast Flying Saucer Sequence
Beware Bald Aliens...Here is a very cool video contributed by Alex Schütz: an animated RetroBlast logo sequence, complete with flying saucer. It's an impressive bit of rendering and animation using Maxon´s Cinema4D R9 and Adobe's AfterEffects Pro 6.5 (you should see the full-resolution original!), but I really do wonder about that freaky looking alien...

One "Dell" of a Deal
Thanks to Jim Robbins for pointing out these ultra-cheap PCs at Dell. For just $225 you can get a fairly powerful PC, more than adequate for MAME use. (Oh, and the title's his pun, not mine ;-)

1/2/05

NY Times Article on Arcade Gamerooms
Just ran across this NY Times article about the growning trend towards "arcade gamerooms".

Game Music, Remixed
If you're a fan of video game music, here's your nirvana: OC Remix, a site "dedicated to reviving the video and computer game music of yesterday, and reinterpreting that of today, with new technology & capabilities." Cool stuff here, folks...

Game Music, Redefined
The GameBoyzz OrchestraThink your GameBoy is good for just games? How about using it to make music? That's just what the "GameBoyzz Orchestra" has done: a group of artists in Poland are using their Game Boys to create a new, distinctive sound, one the BBC dubs "Tetris Meets Kraftwerk."

Retro...to Go!
If you got one of the hard-to-find Nintendo Gameboy DS systems for Christmas, here's a great retrogaming addition: Atari Retro Classics, a collection of classic video games that have been re-tooled to take advantage of the unique features of the DS, such as the dual screens, touch-screen, and wireless features.

1/1/05

Happy New Year!
I'm still in "vacation recovery" mode, now with a dash of "New Year's recovery" added in, but I wanted to wish everyone a happy new year. News and reviews will return soon.

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