Monthly Archives: December 2012

The 12 Video Game of Christmas: Atari’s Greatest Hits

Wrapping up an entire video game arcade is a little tough.  Today’s entry in The 12 Video Games of Christmas makes it a whole lot easier.  The Atari’s Greatest Hits app is a masterfully made collection of classic Atari arcade and VCS/2600 games, available for both iOS and Android.

“Options” is the operative word here, and Atari provides plenty of.  The app is available for free, and with that you get Atari’s cold-war influenced arcade game Missile Command.  If you want to add to your classic collection, you can: download 4-game packs for $0.99 each, buy a pack of 15 tokens for $0.99 that lets you sample any games you wish, or buy the whole shebang of 100 games for $5.99.  What’s even better, though, are the myriad of control options you get.  You’d be justified in worrying how a mobile app would handle the wide gamut of control options you get in the long history of Atari games, like the trak ball in Centipede to the thrust controller of Lunar Lander to the VCS paddles of Video Olympics and more.  The Atari’s Greatest Hits app serves up multiple ways of playing the game, sometimes with 7 or more configurations; fixed joystick, touch-screen control, fire button on the right, fire button on the left, on the top, on the bottom… it’s a given that you’ll find some way to play the game comfortably, either in portrait or landscape mode.  What’s more, this app was the first to offer support of the mini-arcade cabinet iCade, and Atari has since come out with their own official Atari Arcade joystick for the iPad.  It’s not as retro-cool as the iCade, but it comes in lighter in weight as well as price, selling for $59.99 as opposed to $99.99 for the iCade.

All these options, plus 2-player simultaneous play via Bluetooth for some games.  The Atari’s Greatest Hits app lets you defy physics by stuffing an entire arcade into the stocking of the retrogamer in your life.  Get it here from Apple’s app store, or for Android at Google Play.

Tron’s Legacy Continues

Coming through the I/O Tower is word that Tron: Legacy, the 2010 sequel to Disney’s groundbreaking 1982 movie Tron, is itself getting a follow-up.

Legacy created a lot of buzz during its release two years ago, managed to pull in over US$400 million dollars world-wide, and spun-off an animated series titled Tron: Uprising, which airs on the Disney XD television network.  It’s little wonder that Disney wants to continue plumbing the Tron universe.  Legacy director Joseph Kosinski has been tapped for the sequel, with Jesse Wigutow in negotiations to write the script.

I liked Legacy when it came out in theatres.  I saw it in 3D, and the movie was shot with 3D equipment as opposed to converted to the format after the fact, and it looked spectacular.  In addition, the story was a bit more fleshed out than the original.  Here’s hoping Tron 3.0 continues the upward cycle.

For more information on Tron and other video game movies that mattered, consult your local Dot Eaters entry.

via The Hollywood Reporter

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: Pac-Man for iPad.

Yellow ornaments hang from the tree in today’s The 12 Video Games of Christmas.  Wait, that one is eating the tinsel!  Darn you, Pac-Man!

Made by Namco and selling for $4.99 in the App Store, this round of Pac-Man is for the iPad only. It definitely feels like the arcade game, and has some good options for controlling our yellow hero.  Using the virtual joystick feels a bit logey, but an option to move Pac around the maze by swiping your finger to make him turn feels surprisingly responsive.  What’s really neat, however, is the accelerometer control scheme, where you tilt the iPad to move the character, kind of rolling him around the maze like in a marble-roll game such as Labyrinth.  It feels pretty cool and physical, although not particularly precise.  All of these control methods come included with the free Lite version; if you want to really get the arcade controller experience by hooking the game up to the mini-arcade cabinet iCade, you’ll need to pay for the full version of the app.

Another interesting addition to the formula is the ability to continue your game where you left off after losing your last man, by spending Namco coins, which, of course, you can purchase with real cash.  This particular freemium endeavour is not so obnoxious as others you find in the app store, as you get an awful lot of the program in the free version.

Pac-Man for iPad can be gobbled up at the iTunes App Store. Bon appétit!

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: Doom Classic for iOS

As the 12 Video Games of Christmas extravaganza continues with a nice little gem from id Software. Doom Classic is a faithful recreation of one of the most popular FPS games of all time. If you’re here reading this you probably don’t need Doom explained to you but for the sake of context here’s a little background.

In 1993 id Software released Doom much to the chagrin of office Managers everywhere. By 1995 the game was estimated to be installed on more computers than Windows 95. The game catapulted id from an obscure Texas based game developer to the holy ground of shooter game development. Now, the game that filled a thousand BBS’s in shareware form can be yours for Christmas for the bargain price of $4.99. 
Doom Classic isn’t just a cheap cash-in port either. There have been features implemented like tilt strafing and tilt turning and “auto use” which opens doors or pushes switches automatically that take advantage of the unique idiosyncracies of the iOS platform. 
If you’re expecting some iTunes cards for Christmas then definitely put Doom Classic on your “list of things to get with that iTunes card I got for Christmas” – or that Dimensional Shambler won’t be pleased. Here’s a link to expedite potential Doom-ing: Doom Classic

If you (like myself) wasted much of your young life playing way too much Doom then share some experiences in the comment section. Whether it was forgetting to eat or talking back to the quit messages it’d be great to hear them! 

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: Prince of Persia Classic for iOS

Welcome back to the 12 Video Games of Christmas!

Anyone who grew up with a home computer in the early 90’s probably remembers Prince of Persia. My earliest memories of playing the game go all of the way back to sitting in the dingy after school program room playing DOS games like Gods, Castle Wolfenstein and of course: Prince of Persia. 

The animation impressed me and it still is impressive if you look back on it today. Such an important game does not deserve to be relegated to the “Halls of Obscurity” (a place I just made up) and thankfully if you’re packing iTunes cards around the Christmas period then you can pick up Prince of Persia Classic for iPod and iPad for only $1.99 – honestly. That is really cheap considering you get the original game with updated visuals, updated level design and modern game design sensibilities. 



Prince of Persia Classic features three modes and Game Centre achievement support which should extend play for diligent players. The price is really compelling though, so if you have $1.99 laying around the dusty confines of your iTunes wallet then drop it on an updated piece of gaming history today here: Prince of Persia Classic.

Did anyone else play Prince of Persia growing up? Let’s hear about your swashbuckling antics! 

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: iCade

The arcade in your home!

Our entry today in The 12 Video Games of Christmas comes in its own beautiful wooden box:  the iCade.

This squat and sturdy mini-arcade cabinet started life as an April Fool’s Day prank in 2010, part of a tradition at the ThinkGeek website that also spawned the tauntaun sleeping bag.  As the iCade joke post went viral, however, response for a real device was so strong that ThinkGeek teamed up with ION Audio to actually produce it.  ION Audio is the consumer brand of Numark Industries, makers of professional DJ equipment.  Also partnering with the project was Atari, and their classic game app Atari’s Greatest Hits was the sole compatible game program with the iCade’s launch on June 27, 2001.
As stated, the iCade is solidly built, a wooden cabinet into which one slides any generation of iPad.  The two devices connect via Bluetooth, after which compatible apps will display the iCade as a controller.  Since launch, the list of supported apps has been growing, including Midway Arcade and the recently released Vectrex Regeneration.  The iCade’s joystick is professional grade, although its action could be a bit tighter.  The buttons, all eight of them, are rock solid and have a real arcade feel.  Overall, the iCade goes a long way to mitigating the control problems you generally find playing classic games on mobile devices.
The cabinet is available from ThinkGeek and various retailers, usually selling for $99.99.  Currently, however, ThinkGeek has them on sale for $69.99.  Recently ION has released the iCade Jr., a similar device for the iPhone, but I think this is delving a little bit into the ridiculous.  It is a bit cheaper, however, going for $49.99.  
Buy the retrogamer in your life an iCade, and you are truly giving them the gift of the arcade.

Classic British Computers Live Again

Those who grew up in Britian and Europe in the 80’s and early 90’s know all about the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC.

Most people who owned one remember the Sinclair Spectrum and CPC as their gateway to the world of personal computers with big name developers like Rareware and the famous composer Jesper Kyd starting as humble home computer developers and composers respectively on them.

 Source: theguardian.co.uk

Both of these home computers had their own particular charm. The Spectrum was not designed for gaming but developers released some fantastic titles anyway despite the impediment of a lack of dedicated video. This meant games could only really display a few colours at a time from a total of seven. The CPC is remembered for its games with bright, bold colours and the unique Amstrad monitor.

Source: serious.gamesclassification.com

Games like Fantastic Dizzy, Firebird, Manic Miner, Wizball and ports of popular arcade and home console games like Commando, Altered Beast and Ikari Warriors led to the CPC and Spectrum becoming beloved amongst home computer users in the 80’s and early 90’s. Magazines that catered to hobbyist game and operating system development and the “demo scene” fueled the fires of fandom amongst Spectrum and CPC users and now their legacy lives on in communities on the internet.

A manifestation of the love the fans of these home computers hold for them is the “fan site” and what better way to celebrate these wonderful pieces of gaming history than to host some of the most beloved games on the system for play in your browser?

World of Spectrum is a huge site dedicated to all things Spectrum. Straight from your browser you can launch hundreds of games, demo discs, educational programs and productive tools. This is a huge time sink and if you love your home computers then you’ll get lost in this site for hours.

CPC Box is the home of a really excellent CPC emulator; the site doesn’t hold quite an impressive library of titles like World of Spectrum but it does provide the user with a nice big display resembling a CPC monitor and the ability to boot the CPC and play around with the command line in BASIC. This site is a lot of fun to tinker with.

European gamers must have a tonne of great memories of these two classic computer systems, and of the games that molded a generation of players and programmers. Did you grow up with the shrill loading of a Spectrum tape drive? The satisfying clacking of a CPC keyboard? Share some memories with us.

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: Atari Flashback 4

Just wrapped up with Pac-Man gift paper and stuffed into Santa’s sack is our next retro video game present for our 12 Video Games of Christmas: the Atari Flashback 4 Deluxe.

Probably the next best thing to actually going on eBay and bidding on an authentic Atari VCS/2600 game console, the Flashback 4 is a stylized replica of the venerable Atari workhorse video game console.  It plugs into your TV inputs, and included are 75 built-in video games, Atari VCS/2600 classics like Night Driver, Asteroids and Adventure.  Unfortunately, most likely due to licensing issues, third-party games such as Activision’s Pitfall are not on the list.

A nice inclusion, though, are wireless controllers in the style of the originals.  Ironic, considering Atari actually produced wireless 2600 controllers back in 1983, although the ones included in this package aren’t nearly as monstrous.  Replica game paddle controllers also come bundled with the deluxe model, which should make playing games like Breakout and Video Olympics feel much more natural.

The Atari Flashback 4 Deluxe is made by AtGames and sells for $79.99, although at this writing they are currently sold out, so you should keep an eye out for replenished supplies, or you might have to do some searching to see if they are available online at various auction sites and the like.

Here is the AtGames online store page for the Flashback.

Have you gifted Atari today?

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: SuperCade

Continuing today with The 12 Video Games of Christmas retro game guide: Santa’s elves have been busy on the assembly line.

Imagine seeing this with a big red bow tied on it, under your tree Christmas morning.  Hell, it could BE the tree, just wrap tinsel around it and plug in a Super Mario Bros. star at the top.  SuperCade, from the good folks at Chicago Gaming.  50 licensed, classic games such as Asteroids, Berzerk, Battlezone and many more, all in an upright cabinet with two joysticks, multiple buttons and even a roller ball.  All for a cool US$ 2069.49, but hey, free shipping! While you’re composing your email to Santa, here’s a video of Supercade in action:

For even quicker results than Santa, here’s the Amazon link.  Go ahead, press the 1-Click button.  Your rec-room will thank you for it.