Tuesday, December 4, 2012

‘Vectrex Regeneration’ Review - iOS Gains a New…Old…Platform

Interest in the retro gaming scene has really expanded in the last few years, thanks in no small part to the proliferation of capable mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad and the App Store behind them. As such, retro-minded iOS gamers have a wide range of games to choose from, such as retro-inspired new releases, retro remakes, as well as the actual games of olde brough forth through faithful emulation. It is in the last arena that, early this year, Rantmedia Games decided to toss its hat, sharing word of their upcoming Vectrex Regeneration, a one-stop-shop for fans of the much vaunted, early ’80s Vectrex console.

We have been following Rantmedia’s progress closely since then, and are pleased to have finally had an opportunity to put their Vectrex emulation / game library through its paces. Vectrex Regeneration [Free], a universal app for the iPad (2 and up) and iPhone (4 and up), is now live in the App Store, and here’s the low-down.

First, some needed history. Released in late 1982 by General Consumer Electric (GCE), the Vectrex is a highly unique game system. Unlike every other console of the time, the Vectrex features an integrated CRT display — but not of the standard, horizontal-scan variety. The Vectrex utilizes a vector monitor, which is similar to an oscilloscope and draws its graphics on the screen in a fashion similar to the display process of a laser light show. It’s the only console from gaming’s past defined by a complete lack of jaggies.

The Vectrex features a wired controller with an analog stick (one of the first ever brought to market) and accepts games on ROM cartridges, though a single, Asteroids-like game called MineStorm is built into the system. Each game title came with a pack-in plastic screen overlay to add cabinet bling and simulate color on the built-in monochrome display. There was even a light pen and an optional 3D imaging peripheral available for the system, the first ever offered for a console.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Atari Turns 40, Celebrates with New Centipede

Forty years ago today, Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney founded Atari, and the gaming giant is celebrating with a big push onto smartphones. The company released Centipede: Origins for iOS and Droid devices last week, overhauling the original’s iconic pixelated graphics with a fresh design and layers of new gameplay aimed at today’s Angry Birds generation.

“The touch screen adds a dimension that I think is much more personal, as opposed to a joystick,” Giancarlo Mori, Atari’s head of product development, told me in a recent interview. “We’re trying to find the sweet spot between nostalgia and innovation—to give more than the original game design will allow.”

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

‘Gridrunner’ Review - A Retro Remake Done Right

I came to Jeff Minter’s oeuvre late, around the time of the XBLA release of Space Giraffe. I mention this not (only) to display the depths of my ignorance, but to provide context: there’s more to love in Gridrunner [$0.99] than just nostalgia. For anyone who missed the heyday of the Commodore 64, Minter’s iOS titles might seem a bit unapproachable, but consider giving them a shot – they might surprise you.

Gridrunner wears its roots proudly, but it isn’t a dogmatically faithful recreation of the 1982 original. Or, rather, it isn’t only that: both the Vic-20 and Commodore 64 version of the title are present here as optional modes. The real fun is in the remake, which takes the things that made Gridrunner great from the start and runs with them. The grid and its cruel lasers, the little ship that faces them down alone, the flying droids and the missile pods they leave behind – all these things return. This time they bring along retina graphics, power ups, new foes and moments of bullet-pulsing glory.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Brian Fargo Kickstarting a New Wasteland

Back in 1988, when Interplay was still a heavy hitter, Brian Fargo headed the development of a post-apocalyptic RPG for the Commodore 64, Apple II and IBM PC called Wasteland. The name doesn’t carry much weight these days but it’s more significant than most people realize: Interplay didn’t have the rights to Wasteland when it came time for another foray into the PA genre, so it created the legendary Fallout instead.

But Fargo recently reacquired the rights to the franchise and now, taking a page from Tim Schafer’s book, he’s Kickstarting a sequel. “The fans started pinging me first,” he told IGN, but once the idea was planted it didn’t take him long to decide to run with it.

He’s not sure yet whether the new game will be called Wasteland 2 but it will be “100 percent faithful to its roots” no matter what it’s called. That means a game that’s “top-down, probably isometric, party-based, skill-based - where if you’d just finished playing Wasteland and moved on to this, you’d feel comfortable.” It will be a PC game first and foremost, he added, with a possible iOS version as well.

Full article: http://www.escapistm … ting-a-New-Wasteland

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New ‘Karateka’ Slated For 2012, iOS A Possible Platform

And some say the world is a cold, passionless place. Thanks to a hip angel investor, the visionary behind Prince of Persia, Jordan Mechner, is getting a shot at remaking and re-imagining Karateka for release across multiple downloadable platforms.

In a blog post, Mechner says that he’s been working on the new Karateka with a “small team” for over a year. It’s a passionate write-up for the most part, and the reason is plain: this was his first published game, and it’s a legendary one to boot. The side-scrolling action might have been simple, but the title caught fire and has been purchased and subsequently ported roughly sixteen billion times.

Firm details are impossible to find at this point, but we do know that this is a re-make that will blur the standard lines:

It’s closer than the 2003 Prince of Persia: Sands of Time was to the original, side-scrolling Prince of Persia. But it’s a more radical reinvention than, say, the 2007 XBLA Prince of Persia Classic. The new Karateka is much more than a port; it’s both a remake and a re-imagining of the original game for today’s consoles.

Full article: http://toucharcade.c … a-possible-platform/

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ion expands iOS gaming with iCade Jr and iCade Mobile for iPhone, iPod Touch

Ion, the company that helped ThinkGeek turns its joke product iCade gaming cabinet into a reality, is expanding the iCade concept to include the iPhone and iPod touch. At CES, the company is showing off a new iCade Jr miniature cabinet and iCade Mobile gaming controller launching this year.

The iCade is a compact cabinet that turns an iPad into a mini arcade machine. It includes an arcade-style joystick and eight arcade-style buttons that can improve the experience of playing a variety of games, including classic arcade games, fighters, and more. It connects to an iPad using Bluetooth, and Ion offers a free SDK for developers to add support for the iCade to their games.

When the iCade originally launched this past summer on ThinkGeek, the only game that was compatible was Atari’s Greatest Hits, but that list has expanded to include Commodore64 and ZX Spectrum emulators, Frogger, Pac-Man, and over 100 other games available from the App Store.

The iCade Jr is exactly what it sounds like—an iPhone-sized version of the original iCade cabinet. Slide in an iPhone or iPod touch, connect via Bluetooth, and you can play arcade games on its tiny joystick and buttons. Since the front only includes room for four buttons instead of the eight on the iCade, the iCade Jr adds four buttons on the back that can be used like shoulder buttons on a console controller.

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