Retro Game of the Whenever: Sonic Drift

seanstar on Saturday, 28 July 2012. Posted in Opinion, Retro Game of the Week

I was scrubbing through GameGear Sonic soundtracks on my iPod the other day and wound up reacquainting myself with what I shall call an obscure, yet noteworthy, little spin-off series. No, not Tails' Adventure or Tails' Sky Patrol; I won't subject you to those, at least not this time. Before there was Sonic Riders (in my own opinion a very playable adrenaline-twitch-racer that in some ways makes F-Zero GX look tame), and before there was Sonic R (a forgivably misguided attempt at a Sonic 3D racer, with unforgivably misguided execution), way back when Super Mario Kart was the hot thing on SNES (2 years later, to be precise), Sega had actually made one very early foray into Sonic-themed gimmick-racing: Sonic Drift.

RGotW: Castle of the Winds

seanstar on Saturday, 16 June 2012. Posted in Opinion, Retro Game of the Week

The villagers eye you with suspicion.  Among the indistinct murmurings of the crowd, you think you can make out words like "infidel," "traitor," "illegitimate," and worse.  At length, one member steps forward and clears his throat.  From his appearance, you guess correctly that he is some sort of administrator or moderator.  "We are a peaceable community.  We want nothing more than to mind our own interests and attend to our own entertainment.  You look like someone we used to know, and we are willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, but your actions… pardon me if I say it just doesn't sit well with a number of us to see… well, to see a WINDOWS game…"  Many members of the assembly shudder at the word, others trace warding symbols in the air; a few faint outright.  "…to see a Windows game featured prominently right here on our own front gate." 

While you assume an aluminum unibody shell is incapable of holding an edge, and that the cords on those designer-colored puck-mice aren't actually attached well enough for offensive use, you begin to feel that explaining yourself would nonetheless be a safer course of action than testing the theory.



RGot...WtF? - Valkyrie Profile

seanstar on Saturday, 17 December 2011. Posted in Opinion, Retro Game of the Week

Tri-Ace Studios, Enix, in the year 2000

<Odin> (on phone) 'lo?  … Yeah, same old same old. It's good to be the king. You? … Cool, cool. Alright, will do. 'Later!
<Freya> Who was that?
<Odin> Frank--Vanir, big horns, you've met once or twice. Says they're ready to rumble. Man, this age's Ragnarok is gonna be epic!

What the Mac App Store Means for Mac Gaming

mossy_11 on Friday, 07 January 2011. Posted in Opinion

The past twelve months in the world of Mac gaming have been interesting, to say the least, with the arrival of Steam for Mac accompanied by several high-profile releases and greatly increased coverage from the press (somewhat over-enthusiastically, in some cases). All this attention has left some pinning their hopes to the new Mac App Store as the final piece in the puzzle of Mac gaming’s rise to popularity.

Are they justified in their celebration of what is really just another distribution platform? Can the fact that Apple is involved, and, more importantly, that it is built into the Mac operating system, be decisive in proving the Mac once and for all as a viable gaming platform? What does the Mac App Store actually mean for Mac gaming? Let’s take a look.


System 1.0: A Revolution Called Macintosh

mossy_11 on Thursday, 16 September 2010. Posted in Opinion

Mac OS X turns ten this week. That's ten years since the first public release of the jewel in the crown that signifies Apple's rise from the brink of death with a modern and "revolutionary" clean slate. But it wasn't the first time a piece of Apple software saved the company -- that honour goes to the original Macintosh operating system: System 1.0. Read on to learn how Apple changed its fortunes and revolutionised computing back when the terms GUI and mouse were foreign concepts.

The core of the Macintosh experience was never the attractive industrial design, the sense of superiority, or the use of a strange one-button mouse -- although those elements were vitally important. From the very beginning, even before the first Mac hit the market in 1984, right through to the latest iMac or Macbook models, the Macintosh was about providing the most accessible and intuitive interaction possible between humans and computers.

Computers should be easy to use, with user interfaces that Jack and Jill Smith who just walked in off the street can use comfortably with almost no instruction. Gestures, not typed commands; desktops, buttons, and icons -- not command lines, carriage returns, and terminals -- have clear analogies to things from everyday life that people without a degree in computer science can understand. This is at the heart of the Apple philosophy, as it has existed since that fateful trip to the Xerox labs in December 1979.

Growing up Mac: Windows to Another Dimension

mossy_11 on Wednesday, 05 May 2010. Posted in Opinion

When Windows 95 came out, I didn’t care. Sure, I was just a kid, but I could clearly see that it was inferior to System 7.5.5. Years later I learned this isn’t strictly true -- although the feature gap was almost non-existent (despite what Windows’ marketing suggested), they each possessed different strengths and weaknesses. But all I saw was an ugly interface, a continued reliance on the dated DOS back-end, and the infamous blue screen of death. And games still looked better on the Mac, even with the aging hardware.

It was like a window to another dimension, where somehow everything bad reigned supreme over all that is good. I didn’t like it. I wanted to close the shutters and pretend there was no other dimension. But there was no escaping Windows, and I soon came to terms with my aversion for the OS, thanks in large part to a game called Civilization II and a little thing called the Internet.


Growing up Mac: Life with a Plus

mossy_11 on Thursday, 29 April 2010. Posted in Opinion

My introduction to both video games and computers came from a rather unusual source for a child raised in the 1990s. Other kids my age were inheriting 8-bit consoles or picking up the Super Nintendo or Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, or they were experiencing the torture of MS-DOS. As for me, I had a Mac. Not a shiny new Mac, mind you, but an aging Macintosh Plus, with a monochrome 9-inch monitor, no hard drive, and 800 KB floppy drive. Most of the time, I had to first use the boot disk to start the system, then switch to the game disk, although a few games were bootable. Freezes, which were not uncommon, were typically resolved with a resounding whack to either the side or top of the computer. Sometimes, though, a hard-reset was required. And that often resulted in a “sad Mac” on startup.

I (like many others on this site, I expect) have fond memories of games that most people -- even those who live and breathe gaming culture -- have never heard of, and likely never will. Glider moved me with its whimsical world where the paper plane was king. StuntCopter entertained me with a falling stick-figure and a horse that could be knocked over. Spelunx taught me about gravity, lightning, and the power of learning through play. ShufflePuck Café consumed me as I tried to beat all its weird characters. Dark Castle offered an atmospheric action/puzzle/platformer hybrid that was years ahead of its time. Banzai, Super Maze Wars, Artillery, MacSki, Memory, Amazing, Block Out, Maelstrom, and many other unique little games exposed me to all sorts of ideas, filling my childhood with hours of fun and entertainment.

9 iPhone Apps for the Retro Enthusiast

mossy_11 on Thursday, 22 April 2010. Posted in Opinion

The iPhone and iPod Touch App Store is brimming with content for just about every niché (except those that will never meet Apple’s stringent requirements). But so many apps are terrible that it can sometimes be a dice roll whether you’ll find what you want. This is doubly so for fans of retro games and technology, with countless attempts made to trick you out of your money in an orgasmic blast of nostalgia. Some apps actually are what they say, however, so I’ve put together this list of nine iPhone apps worth a look for fans of retro gaming and technology.

2600 Magic / DragstrMagic

From the creator of Pitfall, David Crane’s Technical Wizardry Series has so far spawned just two apps. But both provide phenomenal insight into the work that went into making games for the Atari 2600. Each app describes the internal workings of the hardware, and reveals the tricks used to make various graphics appear on the screen. The language used is very accessible, seldom requiring any technical knowledge whatsoever, and there are numerous interactive diagrams used to illustrate the descriptions. You'll likely finish wondering how anything was made at all, given how difficult every little task must have been.

Cost: 2600 Magic -- $1.99 (a free ‘Lite’ version is available); DragstrMagic -- $3.99.