Unboxing like it’s 1982. Screw Apple, it’s ZX Spectrum day!

I must admit that I was a C64 boy. I loved the colour, the arcade games and the sound. The SID chip, in capable hands, was a thing of pure joy. By comparison, the ZX Spectrum seemed a little prehistoric, although it was admittedly a lot better for certain games, such as anything involving vector graphics and isometric design.

Two other things the Speccy had going for it over the C64 were its Britishness (it was made during a time when, amazingly, the UK was one of the biggest manufacturers of home computers, before everything went horribly wrong and the Americans took over entirely) and it looked beautiful. Only stalwart, stubborn Commodore fans would argue the C64’s beige box was anything other than an ugly breadbin, but the dinky Speccy still has an almost Apple-like charm.

I’ve been after one for the office for a while now, to happily display as a reminder of solid, beautiful British retro design. However, getting a Spectrum in good condition and for a reasonable price isn’t that simple. Luckily, I won an eBay auction at the weekend and my parcel arrived today. The anticipation of unboxing the thing, I’m sad to say, beat unwrapping my iPad. Yes, I’m old and sad, but what can you do?

Anyway: PICS!

Speccy box

Here’s the box. It’s a wee bit tatty, but, to be fair, the seller said this was the case, and it’s 30 years old. Man, I’m old.


Speccy in box

In the box. All is looking good. That polystyrene’s seen better days, but the unit itself is looking very good indeed. HURRAH!


Speccy and Apple

Old vs. new. That the Speccy doesn’t look idiotic sitting next to a year-old Apple keyboard says a lot about Sinclair’s designers. I wouldn’t argue the same about a C64!


August 25, 2011. Read more in: Retro gaming


NES emulator blocked from Windows Phone 7

WMPoweruser.com reports that a NES emulator has been blocked from Windows Phone 7‘s store. Matt Bettcher ported an open-source emulator to the platform, but Microsoft advised him it won’t be allowed on Marketplace.

Bettcher has started a campaign on YouTube, but good luck in changing Microsoft’s mind. Not only is Nintendo notoriously litigious, but Bettcher admits the current code is “unoptimised” (running as low as 10 frames per second), and so it’s hardly a shock Microsoft’s taken the decision it has.

The WMPoweruser.com article points to Apple allowing a number of emulators on its App Store, which include Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum, along with Sega’s own Mega Drive single-app ‘ports’, but these are fully licensed and released with the blessing of the IP owners. By contrast, Nintendo’s already feeling the strain in the handheld market, with the DS losing marketshare to iOS devices. Nintendo’s hardly likely to allow the dark horse in the smartphone race (backed by Microsoft’s gaming network) to release NES IP when it can do so itself (again and again) for its own mobile gaming systems.

Hat tip: iPhone Games Bulletin

January 4, 2011. Read more in: News, Opinions, Retro gaming

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You know it’s a bad sign when your game looks like a rip-off

Being Contributing Editor, Games for Tap!, I have to keep an eye on all the new iOS games coming out. I’ve therefore got an AppShopper RSS feed that spits all new iOS games into Google Reader. This morning, I discovered uninspiring word game Letter Labyrinth. It looks OK, if a bit rough, and I was thinking “not another Pac-Man IP rip”.

Turns out it isn’t another Pac-Man IP rip, because the game is by Namco. And if the game’s description doesn’t get you thrilled and excited, well, you’re in agreement with me:

As only he can, PAC-MAN has gobbled up your old and tired iPhone anagram games to create Letter Labyrinth: a new, addictive puzzle game chock full of words, phrases, proverbs, and even calculations!

Translation: “We’ve gobbled up all the old and tired iPhone anagram games and crapped out an old and tired iPhone anagram game, STARRING PAC-MAN”.

Don’t all rush at once.

November 10, 2010. Read more in: News, Opinions, Retro gaming


Self-pimp: Retro Gamer 82 and Leather Goddesses of Phobos

Retro Gamer won a GMA last night (‘Best Games Magazine’), which is rather nice. Since it’s the only games magazine I write for, I’m going to take all the credit.

Meanwhile, if you’re a fan of Infocom, Steve Meretzky, leather goddesses, Phobos, or Leather Goddesses of Phobos, buying the latest issue of the mag (complete with flying Mario advent calendar cover—I kid you not) would be a good idea, since it includes The Making of… Leather Goddesses of Phobos (by yours truly).

October 15, 2010. Read more in: News, Retro gaming, Stuff by me, Writing


Send in the clones! STP cites Snood as an often ripped-off game

Before this mini-rant, I should point out that I like Slide To Play. It’s one of the few iPod gaming websites that’s got things largely right, and it offers reviews that don’t make me want to claw out my own eyes with a spoon—something of a rarity online these days.

Sometimes, though, a whopper of a clanger slips through the net, and such that it is with the site’s review of Snood. “Who can resist a game filled with disembodied cartoon heads? Certainly not us,” it begins, which we rather liked and had a little chuckle about. And then it all goes horribly wrong at the start of the next paragraph: “Snood has been around for over ten years, and has been available on PC, Mac and Game Boy Advance. A game this good is always in danger of being copied, and Snood has definitely had its share of knockoffs made, including South Park Snood for Mac.” (My emphasis.)

Yes, you did read that right. In a review of Snood, a reviewer said: “A game this good is always in danger of being copied.” I’m sure the Pazuru Boburu (Puzzle Bobble/Bust-a-Move) guys think much the same, what with Snood being a blatant and massive rip-off of Taito’s game. I can only hope the writer was being ironic, but I somehow doubt it.

What this likely shows is how short people’s memories are when it comes to videogames, and also how a younger generation of writers is seemingly unaware of anything that happened before 1995. If I had 2p for every time I’ve read about some iPod shooter being a rip-off of Chillingo’s iDracula, despite iDracula being a straight update to Eugene Jarvis’s Robotron (from 1982), I’d… well, I wouldn’t be rich, but I’d be able to nip over to the garage and buy myself a couple of Double Deckers, and let the chocolately goodness take away the pain.

August 18, 2009. Read more in: Gaming, iOS gaming, Opinions, Retro gaming

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