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April 2005 News Archive

4/29/05

Turner Broadband Game Service
TBS is planning on offering a new broadband games subscription service, dubbed "GameTap." An online games service that should debut with over 1,000 games, it looks to provide a wide variety of games, both modern and classic.

Gotta love this quote:

GameTap will be a PC-only gaming service, but that does not mean that the available games will be exclusively PC titles. Of the publishers already on board, many are offering up titles from past consoles. "It's like a MAME emulator, but legal," said a rep.

Namco Museum 50th Anniversary Arcade Collection
Yes, it's great to see another compilation of classic arcade games (this one for the PS/2 and XBox consoles), but isn't it a bit unnerving to see the phrases "50th Anniversary" and "Museum" in the title of a gaming collection?

Ultra Cool Cocktail Cab
Quasimoto QCX CabOkay, now this is a cocktail cab! Quasimoto has unveiled their upcoming cocktail cab system, and it is truly unique, from the angled 20" LCD monitor to the exclusive Quasicade control panel.

Quasimoto also has some new variations of their Pro-series Quasicade cabinets, including mahogany, black, and a version with new sideart. (Click here for more photos!)

Handheld Custom 2600 Systems!
Ben Heck's Phoenix Game SystemHere's a great way to take that old, dusty Atari VCS 2600 games system and turn it into something new and exciting. Ben Heck's custom Phoenix game system takes your 2600 motherboard, chops it into a tiny square, adds custom circuitry and an LCD display, and wraps it all in a hand-sized package. You send in your 2600, you get back a VCS-GameBoy.

It looks absolutely great — who would have thought the best way to preserve the 2600 was to chop it up?

4/26/05

Restoring Coin Doors Article
Thanks to Nick Vazzana for contributing a great article on repairing and restoring coin doors. He did a fantastic job, and I received the article just a few hours after I put out the call for writers — talk about fast! The guide is now available over on the Retrogaming Articles page.

WOW!
Thanks to everyone who wrote in offering to help write for RetroBlast! There were so many of you, in fact, that I haven't had the time yet to respond to everyone. Don't worry — I'll be getting back with everyone. Thanks again for the tremendous response!

4/24/05

NextArcade Controller and Game Service Review
The NextArcade ControllerSad as it is to face, the 80's are over and arcades are on their last legs. So where is an arcade-junkie to go to get new arcade games? Enter NextArcade, a new service that combines arcade hardware with modern PCs and promises a steady stream of new arcade-style games, taking that 1980's arcade experience and transplanting it into your own home.

So, how is it? Check out the review and find out!

Writers Wanted!
I've just put out the call: RetroBlast is looking for people willing to write retrogaming reviews and articles. I will be paying for articles, both with cash and with gaming goodies (of which I never seem to have a shortage ;-). If you're interested, email me and let me know what you've got in mind!

4/21/05

MAMEroom UAII Kit Review
The Original UAII Cab KitJust posted on RetroBlast is a review of MAMEroom's Ultimate Arcade II cabinet kit, written by James Robbins. MAMEroom recently changed their cabinet kits, so this is a chance to see what the original cabs kits were like (and the new kits are very similar, just a bit more "finished.")

An extra special thanks to James Robbins for contributing this excellent review to RetroBlast!

4/19/05

More on the "Budda Bling" LED Lighting Project
Like I mentioned yesterday, this is a project in development for LED lighting of the buttons on a MAME control panel for each game (plus an attract mode). If you have any interest in purchasing one of these when they are produced, please respond to this BYOAC thread. This will help get an estimate of how many people are interested in purchasing a board, and will influence the number produced (and thus the per unit price!)

4/18/05

Budda Bling: Light up Buttons!
The Board in DevelopmentOkay, pardon my enthusiasm for this, but I've been waiting for light up buttons on my MAME cab since I first built a cab: specifically, I wanted to light up the buttons that were in use for each game.

Finally, after other failed projects came and went, there is a new LED driver board in development that will be released by GameCab.com. It is being developed by "BuddaBing" (see BYOAC for details)

The board will allow MAME to light up the active buttons in any game, and will even have an "attract mode." Here's a video of it in action.

(I just love blinking lights, did I mention? ;-)

One Button Games
RetroRemakes is holding a contest to create the best "single button" game. What do they mean by "one button"? Basically, the game must be controlled by a single button: not a joystick + a button, just a single button. Think it's impossible? Play Uo Poko sometime. Heck, I've got a bowling game on my cell phone that uses just a single button, and it's a blast to play.

New Arcades Overrun by Senior Citizens
Here's a problem you don't see every day: There are concerns in Florida over new "adult" arcades that specialize in games for seniors (think penny slots). The controversy is whether the new arcades skirt gambling laws, not whether the seniors are going to start trashing the neighborhood after the arcades close.

4/16/05

More "i am 8-bit" News
Nathan Cartwright's The Passion of KongI received a very interesting email yesterday from Jon M. Gibson, the curator of the upcoming "i am 8-bit" exhibit. He included some previously unreleased photos of some of the pieces in the exhibit, and mentioned that the exhibit will be open to the public.

Other interesting news: there will be a book of the artwork released later this year, and the web site will be selling t–shirts of select pieces starting this Tuesday (when the exhibit opens).

Oh, and if you're dying to see that monster Nintendo controller created on the G4 Video Game Television Network's "Attack of the Show", guess what? It'll be there and playable by all attendees on Tuesday night.

C'mon...how cool is that?

4/15/05

Haze "Retires" from MAME
If you've followed the MAME scene recently, you've no doubt been amazed at the great job David Haywood, aka "Haze," has done of coordinating all the MAME releases. The releases have come out at a furious pace, and it's been great to see the progress MAME has made. Haze is now hanging up his hat and passing the role of coordinator over to Aaron Giles. He's still going to be working on the drivers, which is great. I'd like to say a special "thanks" to Haze for all the hard work he's done as coordinator of this monster project, and I know that Aaron will do a great job.

4/14/05

GameCab LED Driver Board!
GameCab LED Driver BoardIn a cruel bit of bad timing, I also received my GameCab LED Driver Board this week, but now can't actually start testing it because my arcade monitor's dead!

The board looks great, and I'm itching to install it in my control panel, interface it with my IPAC, and start lighting things up. I've even got a variety of different types of superbright LEDs from (you guessed it) SuperBrightLEDs.com for testing.

Sigh, the waiting is going to drive me crazy!

4/13/05

ACT Labs Light Gun Preorders!
ACT-Labs Lightgun"Mark the Spark" on alt.games.mame has pointed out that ACT Labs is now taking pre-orders for one final production run of their light guns, both VGA and TV versions.

Direct from the site: "We have received many e-mails asking us about the PC USB Light Gun and TV Light Gun after we sold our last unit in 2004. ACT Labs is considering one final manufacturing run for customers still wanting to purchase a unit. As soon as we reach
250 units in pre-orders, we will ask our factory to proceed with production. Because of the small quantity to be manufactured, we have lost our volume discount and prices have increased.
ACT Labs thanks you for your support and we hope that we can reach the minimum order quantity shortly."

They're not kidding about the price increase:

PC USB Lightgun: $79.99
TV USB Lightgun: $99.99

4/12/05

Slow Site Updates
It's going to be one of those weeks: lots of stuff happening here, but it's all "behind the scenes." Expect news updates to be a bit slower this week.

i am 8-bit
It's a Pac Grenade!Here's something you don't see every day: an exhibit of videogame-inspired artwork! i am 8-bit is an exhibition in Los Angeles that "gathers the talents of over 100 artists" to create art inspired by pre-1995 video games, "when games were flat and flourishing with creativity."

Be sure to check out the gallery: got some truly unique creations! Thanks to Ron Brown for the link!

Pac-Man for Cell Phones
Motorola A630Here's an interesting press release, announcing that Pac-Man was the number one-selling game for mobile phones in 2004. To quote: "25 years after the launch of the original arcade game, PAC-MAN is more popular than ever. Having already generated millions of downloads worldwide, PAC-MAN was 2004's best-selling mobile game on several of the world's leading mobile network operators."

I hate to admit it, but the first thing I did when I got my new Motorola A630 mobile phone last week was buy a copy of Pac-Man for it. A word of warning: don't — it's a lousy version, and frankly a cell phone is just not up to the quick responses necessary. Still, it's a testament to the power of a recognizable name (and a lack of a trial version!)

4/9/05

Church of the 80's
Okay, I think this is just too cool for words (but I wonder if my wife would agree): check out these video game stained glass windows! They're both classy and tacky, all rolled into one, but I want one. Oh, and I think they'd be just perfect for the First Church of PacMan.

DDR Workout, My Personal Experiment
Okay, you've seen the posts about the DDR workouts where kids have lost weight by playing DDR, and perhaps you've even noticed the latest home versions of DDR have a "workout mode." I know I did, and since I've gained a lot of weight since my back injury, it's time for my own DDR experiment.

I just purchased a pair of DDR pads and a copy of DDR Ultramix2. I still have damage to my sciatic nerve, which means my left leg goes numb if I walk too much, so this may be just the ticket for my custom weight-loss program. I'll try and post any results. Note: there will be no video of me playing DDR, however...even I have at least some shreds of dignity!

4/8/05

More Great Gaming Engrish
Gradius 3Liked the hilarious quotes at Engrish.com? Want even more video game-mangled english? Check out the Zany Video Game Quotes site, an extensive collection of nothing but the best (worst) mangled english ever created for video games. Special thanks to James Robbins for forwarding the link!

Serve Your Country In the Video Game Forces
Okay, I know South Korea is video-game crazy, and have teams of professional video game players (it's a career, believe it or not), but this is crazy: "Unification Minister Chung Dong-young caused a furor yesterday when he announced he would support the idea of a computer game playing squad at the Korea Armed Forces Athletic Corps."

Coin-op.tv News
Coin-op.TVLooks like the Coin-op TV site has been updated and redesigned, and there's also a new video interview online with Bobby Tribble from CA Extreme and Unmamed, where he gives some insight on what goes on behind the scenes and some of his favorite video games. As always, be sure to check it out!

4/7/05

MAME™ Distribution License
It looks like the MAMEdev team has come up with a new distribution license for MAME. Among other things, the new license mentions that "Redistributions may not be sold, nor may they be used in a commercial product or activity." The've also got a new trademarked version of the MAME logo posted.

Update: I just realized that the entire MAMEdev site is brand new as of today. Some journalist I am...

Victoly!
Special thanks to Ian (creator of The Pinny Parlor) for reminding me of the Engrish.com site, a hilarious collection of "Engrish" from video games and other products. Engrish.com has the very worst Asian-to-English translations ever found, and some of them are absolutely hilarious!

PS2 Arcade
Looks like there's another "reworked" classics collection out there now: Liquid Game's has announced "The Arcade" for the PS2. A collection of classic games that have been "improved," The Arcade will be available exclusively for the PlayStation 2 in the European territories, with no U.S release expected.

Retro Redux Results
Last weekend was the big 48-hour Retro Redux competition, and the New York Times has posted a feature about the contest and the people involved. I loved the part about some kids playing on a PS2 while they watched their older brothers coding for the Atari 2600...

My Desperate Cry for Help
...on the RetroBlast front page as been answered by several heroic types. Thanks to all who responded, I'm now a bit calmer (seriously, I hope no children were scared by the picture on the front page ;-)

I've got some very promising leads on a CMS (content management system), and some very skilled wizards who may be able to help once I've settled on a system. Things are looking up, and hopefully this site upgrade will now happen sooner rather than later.

BTW, if you have any suggestions for a good CMS/Blogging system that integrates well with existing site layouts, please let me know, as I'm going to try and make my decision on this quickly!

4/6/05

Another Trackball!
Well, sort of. I just received my 2.5" Wico trackball in the mail, and it turns out to be the exact same trackball as the one I just received from Ultimarc! Two identical trackballs arriving the same day...deja vu, huh?

Ultimarc Goodies!
Ultimarc Trackball and MiniPACMy order from Ultimarc showed up today: one of their 2.5" trackballs and a MiniPAC. I'll be reviewing the trackball as part of the upcoming Trackball Roundup (of course!), and I'll also be doing a separate review of the MiniPAC, which is an excellent "all-in-one" encoder solution for a MAME control panel.

4/5/05

The DDR Workout Tested
It seems every week there is more news about kids losing weight thanks to playing Dance Dance Revolution (DDR). Well, someone finally decided to test it out. The West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency and the West Virginia University are conducting a six-month long test, providing free consoles and gamepads for kids as part of an exercise program.

4/4/05

Video Output Comparison
Click on the photo for a larger image!I received an interesting email today asking about the visual comparison photo in my ArcadeVGA review comparing 15Khz AVGA video output for Centipede vs. the default MAME video at 31Khz. It got me thinking, since the default MAME display settings include hardware stretch, which can introduce blurriness.

Long story short, here is a new comparison photo (click on the photo for a full-size image). It again compares 15Khz AVGA video on an arcade monitor vs. 31Khz PC video, but this time I've added software scan lines to the 31Khz video and turned off hardware stretch. I've also thrown in a shot of the same video on a PC monitor for comparison. (I'll leave it up to you to guess what game I used for the comparison ;-)

I've updated the AVGA review with this new photo, as well.

The Sordid History of Bally
There is a fascinating article today in the Chicago Tribune about the history of Bally, including a history "replete with mobsters, celebrities and questionable business decisions." Interesting timing on this new controversy, especially with the recent sale of Bally's pinball IP to Mr. Pinball in Australia.

A Stern Reply
Looks like it's a big Bally news day: Pinball News has posted a letter from Gary Stern, President of Stern Pinball, discussing the sale of Bally's pinball assets to Wayne Gillard (Mr. Pinball in Australia). It's apparently a letter designed to reassure his distributors, but you can almost smell the fear.

4/3/05

World's Largest Nintendo Gamepad?
Now THAT's a controller!The G4 Video Game Television Network's "Attack of the Show" recently unveiled the World’s Largest Working Nintendo Controller. Better, yet, they've even got the details on how they built this monster game controller, including schematics! Whether the controller is actually useful or not, you've certainly got to admire their retrogaming enthusiasm!

Inside Atari Video Documentary
This is actual size, folks!The Atari Games Museum has posted an intriguing video documentary that was produced by Atari Games back in the early eighties. The documentary is an inside look at Atari as it was in the 'Golden Era' of arcade games, including a look at the game development labs, game testing focus groups, the manufacturing process and other aspects of this once great company. The video is thumbnail-sized (that's an actual size picture of the video, btw!), but fascinating nonetheless.

4/2/05

Arcade Monitors and MAME
I've just posted the RetroBlast Guide to Arcade Monitors and MAME on the Retrogaming Articles page. A "Lazy Man's Cheat Sheet" on how to get the best possible game display results in MAME using the least amount of effort, the article covers everything from what hardware to buy to how to set it up properly.

4/1/05

Executive PONG
The Ultimate PONG, by Lirpa 1Here's something cool for the boardroom: an Executive PONG game, complete with built in DLP projector that can display your PONG game on any wall. Throw in wireless bluetooth paddle controllers and you've got the ultimate PONG console. At $750, this is a great toy for any high-powered retrogaming executive, and is definitely today's hottest gift. ;-)

Complete Arcade For Sale
Olivier Cozette pointed out another great eBay auction: an entire arcade is available for a Buy It Now price of only $30,000! Thanks, Olivier!

Portrait of a Pinball Wizard
Here's a great Business Week profile of Gary Stern, owner of Stern Pinball, the last pinball manufacturer (at least until the new Bally gets up and running!)

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