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Archive for the ‘Toys – Videogames’ Category

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Computer Budget Games

Posted by Big Boo on October 22nd, 2010

Mastertronic £1.99 GamesHome computers were a large part of my life in the Eighties, and of course with that went playing lots and lots of computer games! Back then games generally cost anywhere from five to ten pounds on cassette, with the £9.99 price point soon becoming the norm. If you wanted the disk version (if you were lucky enough to have a disk drive back then, and if you were able to find a shop that even stocked floppy disk versions of games) you’d be looking at £14.99.

These prices were of course well out of reach for most kids pocket money, so you either had to save up, invoke pester power mode, or wait for birthdays or Christmas to roll round before you got your next new slice of video gaming action.

That was until Mastertronic came along and launch their range of budget games for the rather more modest sum of £1.99! I remember seeing these for the first time in a newsagents, not the sort of place that typically stocked computer games back then. The cassette boxes were held in a big black plastic tray hung on a wall, with the distinctive wireframe M logo emblazoned across the top. I dug around in my pocket, found two quid and chose a game, which happened to be BMX Racers for the Commodore 64.

I rushed home and immediately loaded it up, and was presented with something that was indeed worth the price tag. It certainly wasn’t the best game I ever owned, but given the price I didn’t really feel that cheated. In fact, the game was so difficult and repetitive in nature that I probably played it far more than I normally would have, just to see if it ever got any better. It didn’t. To give you some idea of the quality, here’s a little video clip of it…

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Happy 25th Birthday Super Mario

Posted by Big Boo on September 13th, 2010

Super MarioNintendo are currently making a big deal about their mustachioed videogame mascot Mario being 25 years old this year, on the very day this post goes out in fact. It may seem quite amazing that Mario has already reached the quarter century, but what’s more amazing is that he is actually a little older than that.

Nintendo may be marking this year as the official 25th birthday of Mario, but games fans will no doubt know that Mario’s first appearance was actually in Donkey Kong. OK, he was known as Jumpman then but the sprite (the name given to 2D videogame images) is most definitely Mario through and through.

Even if you don’t include Donkey Kong though, there was the original Mario Bros game (which was a bit rubbish in my opinion) which was released in 1983 and introduced his brother, Luigi. However, I think what Nintendo are getting at is that the first Super Mario Bros game was released in 1985, and this is undoubtedly the game that truly made Mario a star. Indeed, Super Mario Bros was the biggest selling videogame of all time, that is until Wii Sports came along…

So who is Mario then? Well, Mario Mario (his full name, according to the Hollywood film anyway) is an Italian American plumber who now lives in the Mushroom Kingdom, a land connected by big green pipes and ruled over by the oh-so-sweet-and-lovely Princess Peach, who is often referred to as Mario’s girlfriend, but whether they really are an item is never really made clear.

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Dragon 32/64

Posted by Big Boo on September 3rd, 2010

dragon 32 computerThe home computer wars of the Eighties are lined with many casualties, and one of those that fell by the wayside was the Dragon 32, made by Welsh company Dragon Data.

The machine was similar in specification to the Tandy TRS-80, a computer that was probably even less popular here in the UK than the Dragon 32 was. So similar were they that many programs written for one machine would work on the other.

The Dragon 32 was launched in 1982, and outwardly looked like a nice machine, with a sturdy beige case, good quality keyboard and a decent amount of RAM for the time – 32K, as you’ve probably guessed. However, turn it on and it started to suffer when compared against other machines of its day.

The first thing you would probably notice was the lack of lower case characters. The Dragon 32 only supported upper case out of the box (and even then some of the character graphics were a little disappointing, such as the square letter O) and if you wanted to display lower case you would have to resort to writing a program to do that yourself.

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1980’s Video Games and Online Casinos

Posted by Big Boo on July 26th, 2010

This is a guest post by Michael at Jackpot – an online casino guide which offers a wide range of reviews and information about online gambling.

When the 1980s are mentioned, many images and stereotypes are immediately conjured. From Rubik’s Cubes to the A-Team, this was a decade that had many defining features. A development that was certainly at the forefront of many people’s lives during this era was the emergence of video games.

The early 1980s is often described as the ‘golden age of video arcade games’, and for good reason. This was a time period in which Super Mario Brothers, Ms. Pac-Man and Donkey Kong were created, so how could it not be noted as a period of considerable excitement within this industry?

Some games of the 80s are still very much in favour today, with Super Mario Bros. being the best selling video game of all time and Google even changing its homepage logo to a fully playable version of Pac-Man to commemorate the games 30th anniversary. 80s video game fever has become so apparent that classic games have even made their way in to cutting edge online casinos.

Street Fighter Slot Machine

A prime example of this is the Street Fighter II and Street Fighter IV slots that can be found at the likes of Intercasino. These slots feature many characters from the games including Ryu, Ken and Sagat and even include enthralling bonus rounds which consist of choosing fighters and then helping them through fights in an attempt to win you big money.

As a result of the transformation of the Street Fighter games in to slot games, they are currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity. A new version of the game, entitled ‘Super Street Fighter IV’, was released in early 2010 as well as a short film called ‘Street Fighter: Legacy’ that starred characters from the game series.

Street Fighter is not the only video game to appear in online casinos. Inspiration for slot machines coming from all sorts of video games, ranging from Bejewelled to more recent games such as Hitman and Call of Duty 4. There are even casino games available that are designed to rekindle some of the enjoyment that was created during the 1980s. The iconic film series ‘Rocky’ has also provided the inspiration for an online slot machine in addition to the plethora of games based on comic book characters including Superman, The Punisher and Daredevil to name just a few.

Superman Slot

More and more themed slots such as these are becoming available on a daily basis. This means that there is now so much choice within online casinos that each and every player is bound to find a game that they can enjoy.

Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Posted by Big Boo on June 18th, 2010

galaxianWithout Space Invaders, the great grandaddy of the shoot ’em up videogame (well, OK, there was Space War before that, but hands up how many of you have actually played that!), there are a whole slew of games from the early eighties that we might never otherwise have had. Galaxian was one such game which owes Space Invaders at least a tip of the hat.

Galaxian took the general premise of Space Invaders, that of shooting a bunch of aliens lined up at the top of the screen, and made it more exciting by making the aliens behave in a more natural manner for an aggressive attacker from outer space. That is, instead of just plodding slowly along the top of the screen and occasionally moving downwards, these guys would break rank and attempt to dive bomb the player ship.

Instead of the aliens just appearing in rigid formation at the top of the screen, they would first zoom on from the top and sides of the screen in a curvy conga line, firing missiles as they went. If you were quick enough to position your ship in the right place you could actually take out most, if not all, of the aliens before they finished their path to the top of the screen.

As each wave of aliens finished their entrance pattern, they would line up at the top of the screen and slowly jiggle from side to side whilst they waited for the rest of their brethren to join them.

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Posted by Big Boo on March 29th, 2010

froggerQ. Why did the frog cross the road?

A. Because the videogame developer thought it would be fun.

Think of classic old videogames from the eighties and chances are the first game you’ll come up with is either Space Invaders or Pacman. Some might say Donkey Kong perhaps, but one classic that I’m sure most will remember but might not think of straight away is Frogger.

Games back then ran on very low powered hardware and so had to be simple. Most consisted of just a single game screen which the player just played over and over again, with the game getting harder each time you completed the level. Frogger fits firmly into this methodology.

The premise is simple. A number of frogs wish to return to the safety of their riverside homes, but in order to do so they have to get across a busy road. Thanks to the scale of the game your froggie was about the same size as the average car, but colliding with a car was instant death, and you would have to start again from the bottom of the screen.

Once you got the frog half way up the screen there was a little rest point (although on harder levels I think it used to be patrolled by a crocodile) which led onto a river. Logs and turtles were floating apace down the river (in different directions somehow) and you had to hop across these to finally get to one of the five holes at the top of the screen. Quite why the frog died if it entered the river is a mystery. Perhaps it was freezing cold, or full of piranhas who had a dislike for turtle?

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3D Monster Maze

Posted by Big Boo on March 5th, 2010

3D Monster MazeWhat is the first thing you think of when someone mentions the Sinclair ZX81? Blocky black and white graphics? No sound? Flat keyboard? Or perhaps, if you’re from the PlayStation generation, what on Earth is that?

All the above are common and understandable responses, but if I said “The herald of the 3D videogames” you might think I was crazy. How could such a lowly powered piece of silicon and plastic be a forerunner in 3D gaming? Well, in a way, it was, when you consider the landmark game 3D Monster Maze.

3D Monster Maze was really a very simple game. You were placed in a randomly generated maze and had to find the exit before being eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex. What was unique for this game at the time was that your (admittedly blocky) view of the maze was from a first person perspective, as though you were actually standing in the maze. You saw the corridors of the maze stretching away in front of you, and with no birds eye view to show your position, that made the game far more difficult.

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Mattel Intellivision

Posted by Big Boo on January 22nd, 2010

mattel intellivisionIn the late seventies the Atari 2600 was the videogame console that ruled the roost. Sure, it may have had terrible graphics and sound capabilities (certainly by today’s standards) but it had the most important thing going for it, that being loads of games.

As the eighties were about to dawn toy manufacturer Mattel took a look at this market that Atari had all sewn up, and decided they wanted a slice of the pie, so they set their brightest boffins to work and in 1980 the Mattel Intellivision made it to general release in stores all over the US.

The Intellivision, which was a contraction of the term Intelligent Television, looked somewhat similar to the 2600 what with its black plastic and wooden veneer along the front, but inside it was a far more powerful machine than its arch rival. Both graphics and sound were much improved (although still terrible as we look back on them now) and Mattel used this point as its main advertising point, literally comparing games of similar types on the two systems to show how much better the Intellivision versions were.

The unit had a cartridge port on the right hand edge of the machine, the cartridges protruding slightly when inserted, and came with two hard wired controllers which slotted tidily away into the top of the Intellivision when not in use. The pads had a strange circular pad for directional controllers, which was capable of detecting sixteen directions of movement as opposed to the Atari 2600’s eight.

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