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October 2004 News Archive


SlikStik Solitaire Video ReviewA Halloween Treat
I just finished up my video review of the SlikStik Solitaire control panel. A "No Compromises" single-player panel, it is definitely large and in charge. But how does it perform? The RetroBlast Video Reviews page has the shocking expose...

Another Halloween Treat
Love those 8-bits!If a video review isn't going to lift your spirits, I bet this video will. "Hey Hey, 16k" brings back fond memories of those early days of home computers, when you were happy to wait five minutes to load a game via tape drive. Well, maybe not. But if you ever owned an 8-bit computer, this video is a must-see. Thanks, Orclord, for reminding me of this music video's existence!


Hantarex PoloStar Discontinued
Hantarex PoloStarThis is sad news from RetroBlast reader Alex Schütz: apparently, the Hantarex PoloStar line of multisync arcade monitors is being discontinued. He managed to find one of the last ones at While these were not available in the U.S., they were a viable alternative for European MAME cab hobbists. Like MoniVision before them, it looks like Hantarex has decided to focus (ha! monitor pun) on flatscreen displays.


Ms. Pac-Man Meets CSI
Game, Game Really Over...Here's a really weird CSI retrogaming tip: don't hide the dead body in a video game! Last night's episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation featured a plot involving a corpse hidden inside a Ms. Pac-Man machine. I won't ruin the surprise if you haven't seen the episode, but it was nice to see a prime-time retrogaming reference, however creepy it may have been...


Deep in the RetroBlast Lab...
Arcade VGA and SlikStik SolitaireI'm currently rebuilding the software installation on my MAMEframe, now that I've got one of the newer 9200-based Ultimarc ArcadeVGA cards installed and working (I still don't know exactly what went wrong with my old card, and I'm sending it to Andy so he can investigate) I'll be doing a review of the new card as soon as my MAME installation is up and running (at 8 DVDs, it takes a long time just to copy all the files to the hard drive!)

I'm also working on my review of SlikStik's excellent Solitaire control panel, and should have that done soon as well. And yes, there will be a video...

Excellent MAME Burner
Now that's a pretty DVD...Speaking of MAME DVD sets, I really have to point out burner ArcadeLover — he produces a really first class set of MAME ROM DVDs: printed DVDs with autorun info on each disc, artwork, support files, and lots of other extras. He even throws in console ROMs, and the service was extremely fast. Highly recommended!


New RetroBlast Poll System!
Okay, the first poll on the new site polling system is up and "live" on the RetroBlast Front Page. This new system should let me maintain polls longer, including a better archiving system and the option to keep multiple polls active at the same time. If you have any problems, please let me know, as I'm sure there will still be some kinks to work out.


Site News
I'm working on several things simultaneously, which of course means nothing in particular is getting done fast. Coming soon is a written and video review of the SlikStik Solitaire unit. I'm also working on a few other surprises, but I don't want to spill the beans yet. The front page is getting stale, but that's because I'm working on a new polling system, one that will include comments and a bit more security. Other goodies to follow soon, so stay tuned...

Optimized MAME Builds
If you wanted a version of MAME or MAME32 optimized for your specific processor type, you used to have to compile the source code with your processor's optimiziation flag. No longer: now you can just visit the Optimized MAME Builds page and download a version of MAME tailored for your specific processor's strengths. Thanks to Matt Apuzzo for the news!


MAME 0.88 Released
As always, lots of changes, bug fixes, and new games. Grab it now at

What's a Pachislo?
C'mon, Triple-7!I've gotten this question a couple of times since I mentioned that I bought one a few days ago: basically, it's a token-operated Japanese slot machine. Japanese slots work a bit differently than Vegas-style slots: for one thing, there aren't any big jackpots, rather a bunch of small ones in "bonus" modes that can last nearly 200 plays.

These machines are great bargains, and a nice addition to a gameroom. I'll have to write up an article about Pachislo and Pachinko machines sometime soon...


Visual Pinball Lives!
If you've followed the Visual Pinball scene for any amount of time, you begin to notice one thing: the program hasn't been updated in a long time. Well, that may be about to change: Randy Davis, creator of Visual Pinball, has suddenly re-surfaced and updated the Visual Pinball Home Page with news of upcoming changes, including a fix for the crash in Windows XP SP2 when exiting a table. Hopefully this also means the next major update of Visual Pinball is also coming...

New Poll System In Progress
Please pardon the "stale" poll on the front page — I'm working on a new polling system that should be more robust, and may even include a "comments" section. It's got a bit more testing before I consider it ready for release, but it's looking good so far!


360° Tour of 2004 Pinball Expo
Pinball Expo 2004 in VR!
Here's something very cool: a collection of Quicktime VR snapshots of this year's Pinball Expo in Chicago. If you didn't get to go this year (like me), or are just curious about what it's like at a Pinball expo, these wonderfully immersive photos give you the feeling that "you're there." If you've never experienced Quicktime VR, you owe it to yourself just to see how cool "virtual reality" photos can be...

Win a Quasicade Cab!Quasicade Giveaway!
It looks like the folks over at Quasimoto (what a company name!) are holding a contest, with the top prize being one of their Quasicade2 cabinets! To enter, go to and click on the Promo button.

I'm still trying to make arrangements with them for a review of their QuasiCon controller, but if you win the cab you could write the review for RetroBlast! (please? ;-)


Yes, my favorite MAME front-end has gotten another update, just a smattering of bug-fixes this time, but considering the magnitude and number of new features and changes in the 1.5 update, some bugs were inevitable. You can now consider them squashed.

Where to begin — this modern video remix of a Sesame Street song (by the Pointer Sisters, I believe) blends pinball, techno, and even animation from the Beatles' Yellow Submarine. If that isn't a retro-rush, I don't know what is. Here's a letter from the composer, explaining it's origins. Check it out!

Nigerian Pinball Scammers Under a Full Moon
The ongoing war on eBay between pinball sellers and Nigerian scammers is heating up. Using stolen eBay accounts, the Nigerians grab the text and photos from a real pinball auction, and then post their own (fradulent) auction, demanding payment be made via Western Union or direct bank transfer.

Well, once in a while, the legit pinball seller, such as Allen Shope of TreasureCove, gets wind of the scam, and replaces the photos of the pinball machine with ones like this (warning: not for the squeamish) Way to go, Allen!

MAMEframe Cup Holders
I get this question at least once a month: where did you get those cool folding cup holders you used on the MAMEframe? Answer: I got the cup holders at Ahlstrand Marine. That's the first place you'd have looked, right? ;-)


Interview with James Hills of TLC Industries
James Hills of TLCI've just posted the RetroBlast interview with James Hills, the marketing director for TLC Industries (makers of the FlexArcade and NextArcade systems, as well as game cabs for the arcade industry. TLC has got some dynamite plans for the gaming industry, including some that are of particular interest to home arcade enthusiasts.

You can check out the interview over on the RetroBlast Articles page.

Arrrgh! (Warning: Rant)
It's definitely one of those weeks: now, in addition to my MAMEframe woes, my Dr. Who pinball machine up and died last night. I'm almost afraid to touch anything else in the gameroom now, for fear of another machine casualty. Guess it's time to concentrate more on RetroBlast site matters and get those reviews out, huh?

A New Addition
A Pachislo, a Pachinko, a Dr. Who...Despite the sudden rash of injured machines, I did manage to add one new device to the ever-growing gameroom lineup: an "Azteca" Pachislo machine. This Japanese slot machine uses .984 tokens, the same as used by my pinball machines and MAMEframe cab, so it seemed like a perfect addition.


Site News
Sorry for the lack of updates — it's turning into one of those weeks. I just finished reinstalling Windows on my cab yesterday, only to discover that I probably fried my AVGA card. Sigh...

Solitaire First Impressions
The SlikStik SolitaireDespite the cab reinstall work, I did manage to unbox and inspect the SlikStik Solitaire yesterday. It's everything the regular Classic model is, only smaller. Very solid, and a great single-player panel (gotta love the dual joysticks for Robotron action!). I'll be doing a full review shortly, so stay tuned...

New Devastator II / MAME Intro Movie
Get the Humanoid...Matt Apuzzo pointed out there's a new video over at the Cinemarcade site (home of the famous Arcade '84 video!): this one is of the Devastator II controller and several 3D-realized scenes from famous arcade games, such as Berzerk and Omega Race. Very cool animation in this one, folks! Thanks, Matt!

The Ultimate Racing Cab!
Yes, it seats adults...Now this is the be-all-and-end-all of racing cabs: Serious Racer, styled from an actual F1 racing cab! The site's motto is "Serious Toys for Serious Boys", and when anyone uses the word "serious" twice, you know it's gonna be expensive (standard version $7500, "Pro" version $10,000). If you're a racing simulator junkie, though, it could be just the thing. Thanks to Scott Peterson for the news!


I Hate Rainy Mondays
A wet Soliatire boxThere. I said it. I'm not being very productive today, but there's still a lot on tap at RetroBlast this week: for one thing, I just got the SlikStik Solitaire unit in for a review! I'm also working on a few surprises, one of which should be ready in a day or so. It should have been ready today, but I'm just not feeling that good. Hopefully I'll feel more inclined tomorrow.

The Ever-Delayed "Part III"
The Mameframe II Construction DiaryIf you've read my Construction Diary for the MAMEframe II, you know that Part III of the diary, "And Now, the Brains — Software" has been promised "soon" for a long, long time.

Well, call it fate or karma, but I had planned on using this week to upgrade all of the software on my cab, and use the opportunity to write about my experiences setting it all up.

This weekend, while testing the video on the Betson monitor, I somehow managed to totally screw up my Windows setup, and it looks like a "tactical nuclear strike" (aka, reformat and reinstall) is in order.

You'll never know how much your cab is appreciated in the house until it's out of service: my two kids are desparate to play, and that means I'll be working on it sooner rather than later. In other words, Part III is coming soon, whether I want to do it or not!


New Betson Monitor Tests
At the request of several people on the BYOAC forums, I ran some additional tests on the Betson Multisync Arcade Monitor I reviewed recently. The tests? To see what the range of video modes supported really were. The results? The Betson passed with flying colors, including 25Khz (Mortal Kombat) mode and even 1024x768 (although I wouldn't recommend you keep it on that resolution!)


SlikStik SolitaireSlikStik Solitaire Enroute!
Well, scratch one item from the "big ticket" review wish list — Team SlikStik contacted me to let me know a Solitaire unit is on the way for a review! Very cool...

Laser Guided Pinball
All I want is friggin' lasers!Okay, so the pinball cannons on the Star Trek: The Next Generation pinball machine are impressive. Wouldn't they be even more impressive with friggin' lasers on top? Is that too much to ask? Apparently not — check out this cool pinball mod from Mick's pinball, and be sure to watch the video of it in action.

Break Quest
BreakQuestNow here is (if you'll pardon the pun) a real breakthrough in Breakout games: Break Quest, by Nurium Games. What's different? Direct from the press release: "BreakQuest by Nurium Games is the first ever Arkanoid featuring a full-fledged physics engine and advanced collision system. This allows for a completely new game experience in a freely shaped world with physically responding objects (mass, torque, friction, ....)." A limited beta version is available on the site.

Midway Ships Midway Arcade Treasures 2
The Proof Is in the Cheese (Chuck E. Cheese)
Tekken 5 Release Date News
Street Fighter Returns


Aqua Invasion Review
Aqua InvasionHere's another great look at a new retro-themed game by RetroBlast contributing reviewer James McGovern: this time it's Aqua Invasion, a Space Invaders clone by Crystal Paradigm. Is it a fitting tribute? You know where to find out: the RetroBlast Reviews Page.Cliffy's Pinball Protectors
Cliffy's Pinball ProtectorsA new pinball review today, of Cliffy's Pinball Protectors. What are they, and why do you need them? Well, that's what a review is for, right? The RetroBlast Reviews Page tells all, including why I think these are a "must have" product for your pinball machine!Overwhelmed by Emulators?
Lots of helpful screenshots!Are you just trying to get started with emulation software, and are already feeling like you're in way over your head? Guess what: there's help available! EasyEmu is a great site devoted to taking you by the hand and helping you learn about game system emulators, everything from MAME to Zinc. There are guides, tutorials, links, and more, everything you need to get up to speed with the emulation scene. Thanks to Matt Apuzzo for suggesting I point out this great site!MAME token designNew MAME Token Design
David Santoro has posted the preliminary design for the front of the new MAME tokens he's developing. Personally, I think the design is excellent, and I'm looking forward to seeing the back design. If you're a fan of MAME, these look to be great collectibles, even if your cab doesn't use tokens (or even if you don't have a cab!).

G4techTV DIY Cab Feature (with videos!)
Here's an old article I'd seen before from TechTV about building a MAME cab, but one of the interesting things I hadn't noticed before is the related videos for the article (scroll down to the bottom of the page), one about building your own MAME cab and the other one about arcade cabinet auctions. Be sure and check them out!


Starscape Review
From RetroBlast reviewer James McGovern comes a great review of an intense 2D game: Starscape, by Moonpod games. An interesting fusion of Asteroids, Sinistar, Elite, and much more, is this game an arcade game or a way of life? The answers and more await over on the RetroBlast Reviews page!

Got Money?
Two absolutely incredible auctions on eBay, if you've got the bucks (and I mean BIG bucks!) :

First is a collection of the "founding fathers" of the video game revolution: Space Wars (single and two-player versions), Pong, and Space Race. These are the very first video arcade games, are extremely rare, and these are in working order! Yours for a mere "buy it now" price of $12,500 (and trust me, that's cheap compared to the next item!)

If that's pocket money for you, then how about a huge "Japancentric" video game collection with a BIN price of $100,000? This is collection looks to include nearly every Japanese gaming system ever created, along with a huge collection of games.


More PAPA Pictures and News
What's left of a Heavy Metal MeltdownThere are some more heart-breaking pictures of the flood damage of the PAPA (Professional Amateur Pinball Association) facility, in which over 230 classic pinball machines (value at over $500,000) were destroyed. They've stripped out the mud-covered playfields on most machines, and will try to salvage parts, but the damage looks extensive.

New QuasiCON Controller
Lots and Lots of buttons...Now this is a beast of a controller! The new QuasiCON controller from Quasimoto is one of the first arcade-style controllers I've seen to feature two analog sticks for each player, as well as a vertiable swarm of buttons. It's also compatible with all the major consoles as well as the PC. I'm trying to make arrangements to review it, and will report back with when I know more.

Version 1.1 of this unique MAME-oriented screensaver for Windows has just been released. The TB_Screensaver displays screenshots and marquees in one of nine formats, along with many customizable features.

Coin-Op TV
There's a site out there that features retrogaming-related videos... and no, it's not RetroBlast! Coin-Op TV is a new web site featuring video interviews by the lovely Taryn Southern with arcade VIPs such as Walter Day of Twin Galaxies, Dwayne Richard (arcade champ) and Bowen Kerins (pinball champ).

Fall of the Video Kings
There's an interesting article on MSNBC about the fall of the Japanese gaming giants (such as Nintendo), including why they are no longer dominating the gaming world like they did in the 90's. A good read about where the video gaming industry is going.


Amazing Retrogaming Console Auction
Now that's a lot of consoles!For the tidy sum of about $11,000 you could have bought one of the most incredible retrogaming packages I've ever seen. Everything from Atari 2600's to PS1's, and tons of every console inbetween. Just look at that stack of games!

Thanks to Jim Robbins for the link!

Win a Galaga or Space Invaders Arcade Game!
Hey, a contest! I love contests (grin). Guitar Center is having an "Arcade Invasion" contest, and are giving away Galaga and Space Invaders arcade games! Retrogaming and Rock 'n Roll: is retrogaming becoming "cool"?

Retrogaming Humor
Check out PVP, by Scott R. Kurtz. A true kindred spirit, his strips are loaded with geeky humor, including this hilarious strip about Nolan Bushnell and (gasp!) Pong.

There are other great strips, such as this one about the "extinction" of arcade games. Check it out — it'll warm your inner retrogeek!

Sale on Betson Monitors!
This just in from RetroBlast reader Sean: "Great news. The monitor is currently on sale for $399! Too bad freight was $75 and I live in Vegas. I ordered it from Jessica at Betson West in Buena Park, CA. So, $474 total cost.. not bad!! Thought I would let you and your readers know." Thanks, Sean!

Namco Defends Pac-Man
Looks like Namco is going after rappers to the tune of $10 million dollars for sampling Pac-Man without permission! I've heard horror stories about Namco vigorously defending their Pac-Man IP before, so this isn't a big surprise (the original BYOAC tokens were to have some pac-man images on one side, but it was dropped at the last minute due to litigation concerns). Thanks for the news item, Charles!

X-Arcade "Build your own arcade kit"
It looks like X-Gaming is once again selling their custom keyboard encoder separately from the X-Arcade. While it is not as powerful as an Ultimarc IPAC encoder, the X-Gaming encoder does offer support for game consoles, so if you're looking to build the ultimate MAME/PS2/XBox gaming cab, this is something you'll definitely want to look into! Thanks to Mitch Gerson for the news!


And the WG-D9200 Winner is:
Ticket #651, belonging to Tracy Ward! The raffle was an astounding success, with 929 tickets sold. Once I figure out the shipping and PayPal fees, we should have a good reserve for future review items (be sure and email me if you know of something you'd like to see reviewed!)

Bad news about the ROR3 USB Light Gun Interface
An Arcade Light GunThere's been a discussion in the BYOAC forums about the ROR3 USB Light Gun Interface that I had been planning on reviewing utilizing the funds from the monitor raffle. The Bad News? It doesn't work with MAME, as it does not emulate a mouse. There's talk of trying to write a MAME driver for it, so there's hope, but right now it looks like the ROR3 interface isn't a viable alternative to the currently discontinued ACT-Labs light gun.

SNK Contest for an Arcade Game!
Direct from XBOX365 News: "SNK NEOGEO announced that the company will partner with DC Comics to give away one of its most popular arcade machines, SNK VS. CAPCOM: SVC CHAOS. Valued at $5,000, one lucky fan who registers at between October 12th and December 1, 2004 will be the grand prize winner.


Testing, this thing on?
Well, it looks like we're back to the new server. I think. For now. I'm not positive the email's fully working, but it's looking like it might be. What a couple of days! As the saying goes, the definition of stress is a situation you have full responsibility for and yet absolutely no control over...

Last Day to Enter D9200 Raffle!
Yes, tomorrow morning I'll be picking the winner of the Wells-Gardner D9200 arcade monitor raffle. If you still want to enter, visit the RetroBlast front page for full details.

Paging Daniel Goett...
Speaking of entering the contest, Daniel, I need a valid email — the one in your PayPal payment comes back as invalid.

Nashville Repeals Pinball Law!
Direct from the Nashville City Paper: "Councilman Mike Jameson repealed an existing law that prohibits persons under age 18 to be within 10 feet of a pinball machine, saying in today’s society there are video games where children shoot cops so he doesn’t see pinball as a problem facing youth."


We're Back, Baby!
Yes, after a bandwidth-related shutdown on the old site (curse you, PowWeb!), and some moving glitches, it looks like the site is back up and running. And not only that, it's running better than ever!

Update: Email is now working as well as the web site. Hopefully that takes care of everything!


Tomorrow is Moving Day...
At least, on the back end of things. I'm going to be migrating everything over tomorrow, but the DNS settings won't change for a couple of days. In other words, don't look for a lot of new content until the dust's settled and RetroBlast is safely up and running in its new home.


RetroBlast is going to be moving...again...
Never one to make an impulsive decision, I've already found a new hosting company, LunarPages. One of the nice things about them is their large collection of installers for such popular PHP-based services such as PHP-BB and PHPNuke, along with many others.

Hopefully this will jump-start my efforts to add RSS feeds, improve the polling system, and rework the news page so that it's not so labor-intensive.

Of course, we still have to survive the switchover to the new host, and it's not always a smooth process. I'll keep everyone informed when the next big "bump" in the process is coming up.


Know Any Good Hosting Providers?
It's been three months with PowWeb, and I've had more downtime and glitches than in my previous year with iPowerweb. This has got me searching for a more reliable host, one that can handle the unique large bandwidth needs of my site, but still not cost a fortune. If you've got any suggestions, please email me and let me know. Thanks!

Please Excuse the Site Problems
My current hosting provider, PowWeb, has been less than reliable of late, and the site keeps popping into and out of existence. Even when it's up, it's sometimes extremely slow. I don't know what's up, but I'm looking into it.

Hot Hardware Looks Back at Coleco
Coleco's tabletop home arcade games are the focus of this article from Hot Hardware.


Why Classic Videogame Characters Should Never Play Modern First Person Shooters...
Just take a look.

Hands On History Looks at Pinball
The History Channel's Hands On History will air a segment on the making of pinball games this Saturday at 5:30 PM. Included are a tour of the Stern factory and interviews with game designers Pat Lawlor and Steve Ritchie.

Art Exhibit + Pinball Parlor
If you want some high-culture with your pinball gaming, check out the Lucky Ju Ju, a new "upscale" pinball parlor that includes art exhibits, such as "Flipped Out," a collection by photographer Kathleen Gross.

A Perfect MAME Cab Preservation
Jame's Cab, Before and AfterThat sounds like a contradiction, doesn't it? Well, check out James McGovern's most excellent restoration of a Moon Patrol cab, a makeover that both restores and preserves the original cabinet and adds MAME gaming goodness at the same time!

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