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July 2004 News Archive


Just a reminder — today is the last day for entries for the RetroBlast Dream Arcades cocktail cabinet giveaway. I'll be drawing the winner tomorrow morning, so if you want to enter, now is the time...


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:

The Raffle
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!)


Jakks 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 out!


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...)

I 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.


Tron 2.0 includes original arcade games
Top Free Classic Arcade Games
2D Shoot 'em up Revival
Kids Unveil Videogame Designs


Dream Arcade Cocktail CabDream 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!



Dream Arcades Cocktail CabinetDream 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.

ATARI Retro 2.0 Emulator Released
PURE Pinball Comes to Xbox
Custom Furniture Made from Classic Pinball Machines
PINBALL Wizards!

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!


Pinball wizard's nirvana Entrepreneur lucks out with arcade
Pinball Tattoos Photo Gallery
Players Break a Sweat With Video Games
Video Game Champions Honored at New York Video Festival

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?
Dream Arcades Head-to-Head CabinetSorry 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 the Dream 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 $19.99.

Guardian, by SuperLuminal SoftwareGuardian Review
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!

Review Contributions
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!


KeyWiz Max 1.5 EncoderGroovy 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'm too sexy for my shirt...Graphic Violence
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 me!

Special Delivery
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 good!)


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 ( has spent the last few months working on an Amiga site. It's named Lemon Amiga ( 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 ( So all you Amiga fans, join in and make yourself at home.

Happ Acquires Perfect 360 Controls
Happ Controls has acquired Perfect 360 Controls, which (as the name suggests) is the designer of my favorite joystick, the Perfect 360 Optical. Happs will now be the manufacturer of P360 joysticks, not just the distributor.

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...


Gimme a prize or else!More 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!

Contest Change!
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 ArcadeProject Arcade Review
Okay, I just posted my review of John St. Clair's new book "Project Arcade: Build Your Own Arcade Machine". Looking for an "encyclopedia of MAME cab building"? This is it. It's all the goodness of the web site, all rolled up into convenient book form.

Update: I forgot the pictures! Fixed now...

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 as well.

A Remote Control for Your Cab
Just Cooler PC Remote"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!

Now THIS is art!The Perfect Gameroom Decorations
Check it out: Space Invaders wall decals! These fairly large (13" dia) graphics are sold by, 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."

Arcade '84 Poster!
Arcade '84I'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,, and

This Week's Prize Package
SlikStik knob colorsOkay, 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.


One Year and Counting!Happy Birthday, RetroBlast!
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 and, 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 is...
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!
What Video Game Character Are You? I am a Defender-ship.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 groups. What 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!)

BYOAC Tokens, Bling Bling!BYOAC Token Pictures!
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
X-Keys StikI'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.

Atari Paddle, Ms. Pac-Man, and Pinball Classics TV GamesSpecial Gaming Delivery
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, much more!

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.


Sydney hopes her father wins!I 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

Ultimarc E-StikJoystick 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 RetroBlast
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 up.

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 tuned...


Dr. Who MADLights!Doctor 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.

Daily Contest Begins!
Okay, the daily grab bag giveaways have started — this week I'll be giving away a full registered copy of Raptisoft's Hamster Ball each weekday. Visit the RetroBlast Front Page to enter.


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.

Updated IPAC2 DesignIPAC Changes
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!

Ignition 1 Power SwitchIgnition 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!

Contest Clarification
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 'Nuff said.

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!

Move Complete!
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!

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