Archive for the ‘Playing’ Category

Accosting cosplayers in Manchester

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

So last Friday saw Spencer and I piling worrying quantities of computer equipment into his surprisingly spacious Mazda and wandering over to Event City in Manchester for the Play Expo. Once there we unloaded and I started making things up planning the layout for the weekend and setting up the Oldschool Gaming computers.

Things didn’t go entirely to “plan” of course, the telly taken along for the VIC 20 decided to start ignoring its own controls and wouldn’t flip over to the composite input (so a CRT portable was blagged from the organisers), the monitor cables on the Amstrad CPC464 are becoming temperamental in their old age so it would occasionally drop green from the picture and the Spectrum’s VGA upscaler had sync problems so the picture would jitter and roll occasionally. Only that last one was an issue that couldn’t eventually be “fudged” on the spot.

The event was, as is always the case with Play, a huge amount of fun and our kit was set up in pretty much the right area, not too far from the “beaten track” but away from the louder areas to the point where Frank Gasking, Mark Ball and I could actually have conversations with people about the games and hardware on show without having to pretty much yell ourselves hoarse!

The machines themselves saw quite a bit of use over the weekend as well, with Commando Arcade on the C64 (which takes Chris Butler’s original 1980s code and yanks it apart to add the missing levels, stop the sprites flickering and generally improve things) seeming to be the most popular on display, even attracting some of the security staff… or at least I think he was?

I’d like to thank the people behind Play (and there are far too many for my still dessicated brain to remember even twenty four hours later so I won’t list names for fear of forgetting someone) for putting on such a great event and inviting me along to fill a very small corner of it, all of the people who stopped by for a chat, Mark and Frank for coming along with their own hardware and helping on the stall so I had a chance to wander around and Spencer for giving me a bed for the two nights and driving us around once again.

There’s a photo album to go with this post which is, for some completely unexplainable reason, just a teensy bit “cosplay heavy”.

Play 2014

Pictures taken in the run up and during Play 2014 in Manchester on the 11th and 12th of October.

Playing: Carmageddon (Windows)

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

I haven’t done a “playing” post for quite a while, partly because I just haven’t been getting into games lately. But that changed when I bumped into a re-release of Carmageddon over on Good Old Games. For those who haven’t played it, Carmageddon is a post-apocalyptic racer that was released in 1997 and is pretty much the closest a game has ever got to reproducing the feel of 1970s classic Death Race 2000 because at one point in development it was destined to be an official license.

In other words, although racing a set number of laps around each course will complete a stage as you’d expect, so will smacking seven shades out of the opponents to the point where they’re disabled or running over every pedestrian on the map, with the game actively rewarding the player for these actions with extra time and cash! There are also canisters dotted around the map which give a selection of power-ups; the more mundane ones provide extra time or credits but there are more powerful temporary bolt-on toys such as turbo chargers, free recovery vouchers for when the car ends up parked on its roof, tweaks to the in-game gravity or the mental Electro Bastard Ray which fires lightning bolts at pedestrians as the car passes.

Just about anything ramp-shaped can be used to send the car skywards and, although I’ve never been sure if it was by design or sheer luck, most of the time it’ll land on its wheels afterwards. The car sustains damage from impacts and these can make it difficult to control, but repairs can literally be done on the move so even the most ridiculous nose-first dive from the top of a building which smashes all the controls and decimates the bodywork can be driven away from given a few seconds and a wodge of in-game cash – truly hysterical amounts of fun can be had by doing something like collecting a hotrod power-up, aiming for a chevron-covered barrier and simply going for it, sending the car tumbling through the skies of the play area whilst the driver’s avatar is buffeted about on the Pratcam.

There was some fuss about Carmageddon on release due to the amount of violence and an unnecessary attempt to get it BBFC certification backfired so the UK release had to be tweaked with zombies and green blood, but whilst it uses what were at the time pretty realistic graphics, the violence is more like a cartoon than anything else. And although the 3D graphics have obviously dated like all 3D tends to over time, the gameplay still holds up today so I’ve already had my money’s worth from the GOG purchase with a couple of marathon sessions.

All of the screenshots have the female avatar Die Anna on the Pratcam because I’ve always selected her when playing; I have no idea why, but she does have a wonderfully sadistic laugh and says things like “I’m coming to get you” when certain power-ups are activated which I can’t help but find… erm, interesting? Yes, lets call it “interesting”.

Off to Blackpool… again!

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Last weekend myself, my partner Sue and our friend Spencer all piled into his car with a couple of storage boxes of retro computing gear and, after a false start and some time on the road, stopped at a little seaside hotel not far from this tram:

But this wasn’t some random trip to the beach; the storage boxes contained some of the Oldschool Gaming computers and we were taking them to put out at Play Blackpool. As regular readers might know, Blackpool was the original home of the Play Expo back when it was called Replay so this was it coming home as it were. And we had a bloody brilliant time; the machines were left to their own devices (Mark “Groovybee” Ball was there on the first day demoing some of his latest Intellivision code and kept an eye on them) and we pootled around looking at and playing whatever took our fancy.

There were lots of interesting people to talk to as well, including Jessie McClure – one of the stars of Storage Hunters, which is shown regularly on Dave – who was there to give a talk about his passion for coin-op arcade machines and how he has a collection that are rented out to local establishments. His talk was combined with a couple of others, one about the Cherry Blossom Inn (a Blackpool seafront hotel with a retro arcade) and the current UK record holder for Missile Command in tournament mode, Tony Temple. Anyway, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…

Play Blackpool 2014

Pictures taken at Play Blackpool on the 3rd and 4th of May 2014.

…and a few more galleries have been added at the same time for Revival Mini 2013, GEEK 2014 and the first Leeds Video Game Market – have a look at the galleries page and here’s a picture of a Commodore 8032 to end the post!