December 2003 News Archive
Have a Happy New Year
Another year is almost over, and a new one is on the horizon. I hope you had
a fun 2003, and that your 2004 brings you plenty of new joy and happiness.
Keep on gaming!
Construction Diary Updated
It's not much, but I did update the MAMEframe2
Construction Diary a bit, adding in details about the sound system and
the speakers used. I've also added a "parts list" of sorts, detailing
the components used in the cabinet and computer.
No, I'm Not Dead Yet!
Sorry about the lack of updates, but things have been really busy around here,
and I don't expect the situation to improve until my oldest son goes back
to school next week! I've also been playing a lot of pinball, but that doesn't
really count as an excuse, does it? ;-)
I'll start things back up on the site in earnest next
Monday, perhaps with a surprise or two sooner than that if my kids cooperate.
This sort of situation is definitely the downside of having a home office...
MAME .78 "Xmas Tree" Edition!
Yup, the MAME Devs have decided to offer up their version of holiday cheer,
releasing the new .78 version of MAME yesterday. It looks like it's got a
number of changes, particularly to the CHD files used by newer games. Check
it out over at the official
UniVert Updated to .78
Marcus Tiller, always vigiliant to MAME changes, has quickly updated his UniVert "Universal
Vertical Bezel" utility to match the new .78 version of MAME. As always,
it can be downloaded from the RetroBlast Files Page.
Hope You Had a Good One!
Well, Christmas is winding down here (except for the upcoming bargain-hunting
shopping frenzy, which I try desperately to avoid). I got my Dr. Who pinball
machine the day before Christmas, which in itself was a bit of a Christmas
miracle. I hope you had a good holiday, and try to recoop a bit before New
What a Marquee!
Just got my custom MAMEframe2 marquee that I ordered from ClassicArcadeGraphix.com,
and "wow" is, frankly, an understatement. This is a very, very nice
The printing is fantastic, the colors perfect, and the
materials used are top-notch. Everything about this marquee screams "quality." Well
worth the money, and it was reasonably priced at that!
If you need arcade artwork, I would certainly recommend
that you check them out.
Ultimate Christmas Present
Well, I finally got a life-long dream: I am now the very proud owner of a pinball
machine! As much as I am distrustful of eBay, I went ahead and won an auction
for a very nice condition 1992 "Dr. Who" pinball machine.
I won't get the machine in time for Christmas, but perhaps
before New Year's I can be "playing the silver ball." I've always
wanted a pinball machine, so it's going to be hard to wait patiently for
it to arrive.
Finally, a Winner!
Okay, I can finally announce the winner of the Retroblast X-Arcade "Just
in time for Christmas" giveaway — the winner is: firstbase11_00aol.com!
(an email has been sent)
Setup Utility Updated!
Here's a nice Christmas present — David Butler has updated his great
MAMEWAH Setup Utility, and you can grab a copy of the new version from the RetroBlast
Files page. It looks like he's made a lot of updates and improvements — you
can get the full details from his web
site. If you use the MAMEWAH frontend (or want to give it a try), this
is a great utility to quickly get MAMEWAH set up and running. Thanks, David!
(Update: There was a mix up
on the file — the correct version, 0.7.6, is now available.)
Now this is pretty cool — Steve Lilley-Hopkins (author of MAMEWAH),
emailed me about his discovery of a web site, Retro
Remakes, that's devoted exclusively to modern remakes of classic games!
They've got a long list of game remakes, categorized by the title of the game
that's being remade (It looks like I've got a lot of downloading ahead of me!)
One of the games, R-Tronic,
is a remake of Robotron: 2084, so you know I'm going to have to give it
a good playtest! ;-)
X-Arcade Contest Winner Soon?
There's a bit of confusion going on, and I don't yet know the winner of the
X-Arcade giveaway. Of course, this means you've got a last
chance to enter if you haven't already. I don't know when the cut-off
will finally happen (perhaps 11:59pm today, perhaps sooner), so enter quickly!
This is the last day to enter the "Just in Time for Christmas" X-Arcade
giveaway. The drawing will be held tomorrow, so click
here to enter if you haven't already! I'll announce the winner on the front
Vortex Spinner Updated
Kelsey at Oscar Controls just
sent me a picture of the new "rev. A" version of the Vortex
Spinner. Kelsey can describe the changes better that I, so let me quote
a note to let you know that I have made some upgrades to the Vortex...
The flywheel is now machined from one piece of 6061 aluminum. The less
dense aluminum gives it a slightly lighter feel like you found on the Tempest
spinner, although the mass is the same. It is a very curious phenomenon
which is hard to explain in words, it has to be "felt", but the
Vortex now feels even more like the original Tempest spinner which you
experienced first hand.
Additionally, I increased the thickness of the sheet steel used to make the
spinner bracket so it is now a perfect match for the original. Previously I
went one gauge thickness less than the original to make the spinner lighter
because I didn't feel that 14 gauge steel was really necessary, but since I
was already making other revisions, I opted for this one as well.
Finally, I went to a different finishing shop do the plating and I switched
to a black zinc finish instead
of the black oxide I used previously on the steel parts. This is a newer finishing
process that many
automotive suppliers are using now instead of powder coating for economic reasons
on smaller parts such as door hinges, brackets, and other small parts you may
find on a new car (powder coating is quite expensive in comparison). It's a
shiny deep black and very cool looking, at least I think so. ;)
It looks great, and I'm sure it improves on an already
impressive spinner design. In addition, it appears that Oscar Controls
is now selling Vortex spinners to a commerical arcade cabinet manufacturer — no
names mentioned yet, but it's nice to see Oscar Controls "hitting
the big time!" Congrats, Kelsey!
If you're looking for a great Christmas present, don't forget to enter the "Just
in Time for Christmas" X-Arcade giveaway. The drawing is in two days (the
17th), so click
here to enter if you haven't already!
New MAMEframe2 Marquee
Well, I've ordered my new custom marquee for the MAMEframe2 from ClassicArcadeGraphix.com:
I'll be sure and let you all know what the final product
looks like installed in the cab.
Christmas Present for Myself
My two sons are rapidly becoming arcade game junkies — so much so that
I hardly ever get a chance to play on my arcade cab, even alongside with them
(as they both always want to play on the MAMEframe at the same time, and I
only have a two-player control panel!)
My solution? I just got a Christmas present for myself:
a Saitek P3000 wireless joypad. This is an extremely cool piece of gaming
hardware — an RF wireless gamepad with dual analog joysticks (great
for Robotron), two rechargeable battery packs, and a USB docking station
that also doubles as the charger. All this for about $35.
The only catch? I can't open it until Christmas. Ah,
well, at least I have something to look forward to on Christmas morning!
(Look for a review sometime in January)
Plus Mark 2 First Impressions
I've had a chance to look over this new switchable 4 way/8 way joystick design
and wanted to post my first impressions. I'm very impressed with the switching
system: it uses a small pin and socket setup on the bottom of the joystick
handle — to switch from 8-way to 4-way, you simply grab the joystick
handle, pull up, and twist clockwise until it "clicks." To switch
back, just pull and turn counter-clockwise.
It's an amazingly simple, elegant method of switching
the joystick restrictor plate, and it doesn't interfere at all with the
microswitches. I'm looking forward to "playtesting" it.
So It Begins...
A special delivery today from England: three joysticks from Ultimarc,
the T-Stik Plus Mark 2 (the prototype, no less), the E-Stik (Easy Mount), and
the J-Stik (Japanese Oval top). Basically, everything Ultimarc offers except
their Euro-Stik (which is a Suzo System 500 joystick).
I now have all of the joysticks that will be included
in the roundup, so the testing can officially begin. I'll start working
on mounting them all to the "test panel" shortly. I'll be using
both an Ultimarc
I-PAC encoder and a GroovyGameGear
KeyWiz MAX 1.5 encoder for testing. Stay tuned.
'Tis the Season
Just a note: the holidays are in full swing here, and with two small boys that
means I've got a lot of things to take care of, such as cards, gifts, and
so on. The updates to the site may be a bit slower over the next couple of
weeks, as I work myself in to a holiday-induced stress frenzy. Bah, humbug...
The RetroBlast Joystick Roundup review is almost ready to begin (yes, finally!
;-) I received two more joysticks over the weekend (thanks to Doug Hansen!):
a Happs Super and an original Wico arcade leaf switch joystick. The final set
of joysticks has been mailed, and should be delivered by the end of the week.
If you're curious, here's the current lineup of joysticks that will be in the
- Happs Perfect 360
- Happs Competition
- Happs Ultimate
- Happs Super
- Happs Rotary
- Happs Top Fire
- Omni-Stik Prodigy (4/8 way switchable)
- Ultimarc T-Stick/T-Stick Plus (4/8 way switchable)
- Ultimarc E-Stick
- Ultimarc J-Stick
- Ultimarc Euro-Stik
- X-Gaming Joystick
- Wico Arcade Leaf Switch
That's a total of 13 joysticks (in other words, this
review may take a while! ;-)
I've just completed a review of ClassicArcadeGraphix.com,
a company that offers great MAME-related artwork, such as marquees, side art,
bezels, and even control panel overlays.
If you've got a MAME cab (or an original arcade game
needing some replacement repro artwork), they've got some really great
stuff — be sure and check
out the review.
We Have a Winner!
Congrats to Dennis Campbell, winner of the ArcadeVGA card from Ultimarc. This
wraps up the "Share the Wealth" giveaways, at least for now. I'll
have more giveaways in the future.
AVGA Contest Reminder
Today is the last day to get your entry in for the ArcadeVGA "Share the
Wealth" giveaway (visit the RetroBlast front page for
details on how to enter).
X-Arcade Giveaway Reminder
Don't forget that the X-Arcade "Just
in Time for Christmas" giveaway is going on as well, with a drawing
deadline of December 17th. (It'd make a great Christmas present, don'tcha think?
New Plans from MAMEroom
of the Ultimate Arcade cabinet plans and templates) have come out with
new plans for a Virtual
Music Jukebox. I'm currently working on a review of the plans, and
the level of detail is amazing — the construction plans are 34
pages long! I'll post here when the full review is finished, but my first
impression? Very, very comprehensive!
Space Invaders Invades US Again
It looks like Namco is going to be bringing
back Space Invaders to an arcade (or home) near you: They plan on selling
10,000 new Space Invaders arcade machines in the US, at $2772 a pop. Inflation
has taken its toll, as well, as each play will cost you $.50 now.
Truly Unique Control Panel
David Shultz sent me this interesting picture of his MAME cab, which he estimates
is about 85% complete.
One of the unique things about this cabinet is the "tiered" control
panel, with an upper and a lower deck. I asked David how well the design
has worked out in actual use:
"It works out well, I really like the flight stick.
I have had four players play comfortably for a couple of hours. Once I
get the sideart done I will post it on build your own forums also. The
only negative is I should have made the bottom level about an inch deeper
for more room with the trackball."
The cabinet looks extremely professional, and I always
like to see such creative innovations in design. Good job, David!
SlikStik Contest and Site Changes
It looks like the SlikStik crew
were busy over the holidays — they've now got a contest going on for
the best animated SlikStik GIF "badge" (88x31 pixels). The prize
is a Tornado spinner. Check out the contest
post in their new forums.
It looks like they've also overhauled their site, with
a new shopping cart system, forums, and some new "bundle" offers
combining the SlikStik cabinet and control panels.
MAMEreactor and MAMEzip
big is developing over at MAMEreactor — they're
hard at work on setting up a ROM sharing setup for programs such as Shareaza.
The catch? All the ZIPs must be identical for sharing to work. The solution? MAMEzip,
their newly developed program that re-zips your ROMs so that they are
identical to other MAME ROMs on P2P networks such as Shareaza,
meaning that the ROMs can be easily shared. If you're looking for an
easier way to keep your ROMs up to date, this could be it.
MAMEWAH Tutorial, Help Files, and Skins
If you're looking for some help getting MAMEWAH up
and running, there is a nice tutorial over
at the Screenshot
Archive site, as well as a help
page and (best of all) some very nice MAMEWAH
skins to change the layout and appearance of your MAMEWAH display. Thanks,
D9200 + DVD = WOW
After an email asking me about the TV quality on the D9200
arcade monitor helped remind me, I finally tried playing a movie DVD on
the MAMEframe II (I bought a DVD/CD-RW drive specifically for the ability to
play DVDs on my arcade cab). I'm really, really, really impressed — the
video quality is amazing, and the sound field just envelopes you when you sit
in front of the cab. It's a truly immersive experience, and I'm kicking myself
for not trying it sooner. Now all I have to do is find a reclining bar stool
and I'm all set. ;-)
Space Tripper Review Now Ready
The written review of Space Tripper
by PomPom Games is now available on the Reviews
page. If you haven't already, be sure to also check out the video
review as well.
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