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September 2004 News Archive


Classic Arcade Games Online!
To celebrate the release of Midway Arcade Treasures 2, Midway has posted several Shockwave versions of classic WIlliams arcade games (including my fav Robotron) on their site. Any Shockwave-enabled browser can play the games.

Mortal Kombat on Your Mobile Phone?
Yes! (and more importantly, Robotron as well!) THQ Wireless, Inc. has announced an agreement with Midway to release seven classic video games for mobile phones. Also included are Joust, Defender, Spy Hunter, Marble Madness, and Tapper. Full details are available in the THQ press release.

SlikStik 5% Discount
I dropped by the SlikStik site yesterday and noticed that they are running a 5% discount offer store-wide that will run until November 25th, which coincidentally is the the cut-off date they list if you want your order before Christmas (is it that time already?)

Anyway, click here to visit SlikStik and use the code "ssholiday" when ordering. (If you'd like to support RetroBlast, you can use our SlikStik Affiliate Link instead ;-)

Fine-tuning Your J-Stik
I got an interesting email about the Ultimarc J-Stik from Steve Lilley-Hopkins (author of MAMEWAH), in which he mentions two tricks to "fine-tune" the way the J-Stik feels:

The restrictor plate on the J-Stik can be unscrewed and flipped over - this reduces the throw slightly due to the angled inside edge of the restrictor 'hole'. Another trick is to remove the spring, stretch it and replace - this gives the stick a slightly harder feel. I've done both of these to 1 of my sticks, and while I wouldn't say it massively alters the feel of the stick, it is certainly noticable (& IMO a slight improvement).


MAME in Forbes
Lots of buzz online about this article in Forbes Magazine, which discusses the author's discovery of MAME and the Barcade. What's got everyone talking, though, is this paragraph late in the article:

Be warned: The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) isn't amused by MAME. The trade organization, which counts among its members Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive Software, and Activision, labels MAME players as "pirates."


Arcade Fever Book ReviewArcade Fever: The Fan's Guide to the Golden Age of Video Games
Kicking off this week is a review by James McGovern of Arcade Fever, a picture-packed look back at the birth of arcade games, including interviews with such videogaming giants as Nolan Bushnell and Eugene Jarvis — head on over to the RetroBlast Reviews page!


Ultimarc J-StikJoystick Review of the Week
Can you believe it — two joystick reviews in a week? Yes, it's true. This time it's a review of the Ultimarc J-Stik, a joystick with a noticably "square" feel to it.

So, is it "hip to be square"? Go to the Reviews page and find out!

Visual PinMAME Quickstart!
Visual PinballI know a lot of people are interested in running Visual PinMAME, but are a bit confused on what programs you need and how to install everything. Fret not — there is a new "all-in-one" setup program available from that makes getting things up and running a cinch!

Just download their "Pinball Pack", run the installer, and you're good to go. It combines Visual Pinball, PinMAME, Visual Pinball Launcher, and all necessary support files. Heck, it even includes a few Visual Pinball tables (complete with ROMs)!


LED Kit by UFO PinballAttack from Mars Mini-Saucer LED Kit Review
Hot off the virtual presses is a RetroBlast review of the "Attack from Mars Mini-Saucer LED Kit" by UFO Pinball. If you're a big fan of blinking, flashing light shows (and own a Bally Attack from Mars pinball machine), this is a "must-buy" addition.


RetroBlast D9200 Raffle Has Begun!
Okay, things were delayed a bit, but I've now finally gotten the D9200 raffle up and running. It's going to be a short run (just two weeks, until Friday October 8th!), so enter quickly if you're interested: head on over to the RetroBlast front page for rules and details on how to enter.

Article on the PAPA Flood
Just spotted a short article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the flooding of the PAPA pinball facility. Over $500,000 in losses that are not covered by their insurance!

If you want to see what things looked like before the disaster, check out the photo gallery in this article about the PAPA competition the week before.

More Detailed D9200 Details
I've had a few requests for more information about the D9200 information I posted on Monday, so click here for a larger exerpt from the email. There's some very interesting stuff for anyone considering a WG purchase.


MAME 0.87 Released
Head on over to for the latest release of MAME. Expect a rush of support file updates from all the usual suspects shortly...


Attack From Mars Mini Saucer LED Kit Video
UFO Pinball LED Kit VideoThe review is still in process, but I thought I'd go ahead and post a short video of this excellent pinball mod kit from UFO Pinball. The video is available over on the RetroBlast Videos page. Trust me, if you've got a Bally Attack from Mars pinball machine, this is a must-have addition.

Mechanical Pong
The PongMechanikThose wacky Germans are at it again — this time it's PongMechanik, a mechanical reproduction of the granddaddy of video games, Pong. It's a fascinating (if somewhat pointless) project. Be sure to check out the video of the machine in action. Thanks to John Laur for the news!

Official Price Guide to Classic Video Games
Official Price Guide to Classic Video GamesI've just posted my review on the RetroBlast Reviews page of the Official Price Guide to Video Games, by David Ellis. More than a price guide, this book is a fascinating look into the history of classic video gaming, from arcade games to consoles, even handheld games.


This Week on RetroBlast
Just a few morsels about what's coming up this week on RetroBlast: First, we have a review of David Ellis' Official Price Guide to Classic Video Games, followed by a review of UFO Pinball's excellent Attack From Mars mod kit, and finally, another joystick review (Which joystick, you ask? Why spoil the surprise? ;-)

Ivan Hits PAPA, 232 Pinballs Dead...
This is painful to look at...There was some really depressing news this weekend: the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan hit Pittsburgh hard, flooding the headquarters of PAPA (the Professional Amateur Pinball Association) with over 5 feet of water, just five days after this year's championship.

The casualties? 232 (that's two hundred thirty two) classic pinball machines and some rare video games were destroyed (including an extremely rare Tattoo Assassins prototype and a sit-down Omega Race!) Truly heartbreaking.

New WG-D9200 Info
I received a very interesting email this weekend, from a builder of MAME cabinets who has purchased well over 150 D9200 monitors in the past. He had a lot of great tips, including pinpointing what, exactly, went wrong with my D9200 (see the D9200 review).

The short version? D9200 monitors seem to be susceptible to losing their factory-set color gain and bias settings. If you know what your settings were, you can access the hidden operator's menu and restore them (see the RetroBlast Files page for details on accessing the hidden menu).

My "source" mentioned a failure rate of 10%, which is astounding. If you've got a D9200 monitor, I'd recommend you go into the hidden setup menu and write down your color gain and bias settings now!


A New Joystick Review!
Happs Top Fire JoystickYes, believe it. Hot off the virtual press is the RetroBlast review of the Happ Controls Top Fire joystick. An unimpressive joystick with a unique talent that makes it handy, the Top Fire will never win a "Joystick of the Year" award. Still, it may yet earn a place on your control panel. Why? Head on over to the Reviews Page and find out!

(Oh, and I'm not done yet with joysticks this week... ;-)

KeyThis! Update
KeyThis Version 1.1Chris Stuhr has updated his excellent keyboard/controller testing program to version 1.10, adding a keypress history (which is extremely handy for tracking down "ghosting"!)


Mas Systems
Mas Systems' ControllerLooks like there may be a new arcade controller vendor on the market: Mas Systems. "Nirv" brought them to my attention, and I'll be checking in to see if I can make arrangements for a review of their controllers. The controller designs certainly look intriguing, and their compatability with console systems as well as PC systems is a plus.


Steel Saviour Review
Hot off the virtual press is James McGovern's review of the visually stunning Steel Saviour, by SR-71. A gorgeous update on the side-scrolling shooter genre, this game brings eye-candy to a whole new level. But is the game play as sweet as the graphics? Check out the review!


Betson Video Review
Betson 27 inch arcade monitorGetting things back up to speed here on RetroBlast, I present the video review of the Betson Imperial 27" Multisync Arcade Monitor (whew...what a mouthful!).

Feast your eyes on 27" of pure arcade gaming glory, and bask in the pure, unadulterated photon glow...ah...

I'm Back...Mostly
Well, I'm back — definitely not 100% yet (nowhere near), but I'm on the recovery side of things. Sorry for the downtime.

Upcoming Reviews
There were a couple of reviews that were almost ready to go last week that got delayed because of my illness: the Betson 27" Multisync Video Review, and a review of Steel Saviour by James McGovern. Both will be out shortly. Other reviews as soon as I'm feeling up to it.

MAME Tokens!
Following up on the success of the BYOAC arcade tokens, David Santoro now has a poll to see if some MAME tokens should be made. If you like the idea of MAME-specific custom token designs, head over to the new poll over at the BYOAC forums and vote!


Sick Days
Sorry, I've been on my back with the flu the last couple of days. It's all part of the "germ exchange program" that happens when school starts, I suppose. Don't worry if I haven't responded to emails - I will as soon as I'm up and about.


Atari Anthology and Flashback
Retrogaming continues to grow: Atari is releasing the Atari Anthology, a collection of 18 of their arcade classics and 67 2600-console games together on a CD for the PlayStation 2 and X-Box consoles.

They're also releasing a "mini-7800" console called the Atari Flashback, which will include 20 built-in games. Looks like they've caught on to the fact that their classic games may be a source of income for the company. Thanks to David Ahern for the news!

Light Guns and the Betson Multisync?
Light gunsA million thanks to Ron Hallett, who sent me an email last night asking if I had tested the Betson multisync monitor with the ACT-Labs light gun — it totally slipped my mind! I had completely forgotten about my ACT-Labs light gun, since it had never worked properly with my WG-D9200 arcade monitor when run with the Ultimarc ArcadeVGA card, and I was not about to give up the amazing video the ArcadeVGA was capable of in MAME just for a light gun.

Well, good news! The ACT-Labs light gun worked flawlessly with the Betson monitor and the Ultimarc AVGA card! I now, at last, have a working light gun for my cab. (I've updated the review with this little gem of information.)

MAMEWAH 1.5 Released
Yes, my favorite front end has been updated, and this time it looks like Steve has been very busy — there are an awful lot of changes. For example, the limit on different emulators has been bumped from 50 up to 32,767! (That ought to hold you emulator fanatics a while!) Lots more cool stuff as well, including support for trackballs, multiple inputs, and an entirely new menu system. This is big, folks.

Here's a list of all the changes, and you can grab your own copy over at the official MAMEWAH site

ArcadeVGA M.A.M.E. Resolution Tool v1.02 Released
Like I said, Steve's been busy — the new version of the AVGA MAME Resolution Tool adds support for the newer versions of MAME (that don't have the listinfo command). (This update has been out a while — I can't believe I missed it!)


Must See TV (for Arcade Nuts!)
This looks very, very interesting: PBS is going to be showing "The Video Game Revolution," a television program documenting the history of video games. It will be airing this Wednesday, 9/9/04, at 9pm. Be sure and check out their "Best and Worst Video Games of All Time" section!

Article on Happ Controls
Here's an interesting article in the Daily Herald about Happ Controls (where I buy a lot of my arcade parts! ;-)

Betson Multisync Monitor Review
Just posted to the RetroBlast Reviews page is my review of the Betson 27" Multisync Arcade Monitor, a possible successor to the versatile-but-troubled Wells Gardner D9200 which has so far been the MAME cab builder's monitor of choice.

So, how does the new monitor stack up? Can it take the title of "Best MAME Cab Monitor"? Check out the review!

Another Raffle?
Or an auction? How should I "dispose" of the Wells-Gardner D9200 monitor that until last week lived in my MAMEframe cab? Vote in the new poll on the RetroBlast front page and let me know what you think!

Price Guide to Classic Video GamesOfficial Price Guide to Classic Video Games
I've just received a copy, thanks to author David Ellis. Don't be fooled — this is much more than just a price guide, and covers everything from arcade video games to consoles (even such obscure classic platforms as the Vectrex!).

From the history of video games to how to care for one, this is a comprehensive look at the world of video gaming. I'll be reviewing it as soon as I can wade through all 463 pages!


I'm back (mostly)
Well, after couple of days of pain med-induced lethargy, I'm feeling a bit better. I'm going to try working on the Betson/Kortek monitor review this weekend, and I've got a couple of other surprises for this next week, if everything works out.

Bar Stools Review?
Yup, Greg Thorpe just posted a "mini-review" of the Happs bar stools over in the SlikStik forums. Having just added some very similar stools to my setup, I've got to say they really are great to have around, especially for those marathon gaming sessions!

Pinball is Illegal for anyone under 18 in Nashville, TN!
Betting on Arcades
JAMMA 2004: Sega Golf Club Trailer
New Taito TypeX arcade hardware, lineup announced
JAMMA 2004: Quest of D Playtest


I need a lighter hobby...
Sorry for the lack of news yesterday — I re-injured my back unboxing the new Betson monitor. Nothing that will require surgery again, but the pain meds make it a bit difficult to focus on the monitor review (monitor focus! ha, I kill myself...ow...) Next time I'll follow my doctor's orders (and yes, lifting a 75 lb. monitor when you've got a 35lb. lifting limit isn't even close...)

I'll see what I can get done this weekend, but if you don't see an update, have a relaxing holiday weekend (since that's what I'll be doing as well! ;-)


Game Art Contest
Here's something you don't see everyday: an art contest with the theme of "electronic games." Called Game Art, the contest runs through September and the top prize is 2,000 Euros!

The PainStation
Yes, that's a whip...Think playing video games isn't tough enough? Want to really suffer for your high scores? Check out the PainStation, a masochistic device that combines old-fashioned gaming with even older fashioned whipping. Be sure and check out the damage this thing has inflicted on players' hands!

MAMERoom Cabs on Sale
Thanks to Matt Apuzzo for pointing out that is having a sale on their cabinet kits: until September 6th the cabinets are $50 off the regular price.

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