Archive for the ‘Playing’ Category

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!

Road trip time

Monday, October 21st, 2013

The more observant visitors to my website (both of them) have already noticed that the photos and associated gallery both went live a week back but due to things in the “real” world and work deadlines getting in the way, a post about the Play Expo (which was on the 12th and 13th of October) failed to materialise due to “life stuff” and writing deadlines jostling for attention.

As with last year, the event itself was vast; Event City is a huge venue and, along with a significant increase in the numbers of people through the door, there was also more to actually see once inside; there were stands for the new Assassin’s Creed, Nintendo’s Wii U and Oculus VR’s kit but to be honest those don’t really interest me, but I did get a chance to chat with the people behind the FUZE, a solid all-in-one shell around a Raspberry Pi and a BASIC interpreter which is primarily aimed at education but they’re hoping to get some indie interest as well.

There were loads of machines out to play with too, including an Apple IIc and Commodore PET (both of which I believe conked out during the weekend and we were aware of some “electrical burning” type smells fairly early on which may have been the latter) and a couple of VIC 20s just opposite where Oldschool Gaming was set up and a range of other kit from ZX81s to reasonably old but networked desktop PCs, all running games and left there for people to play.

The Oldschool Gaming stand itself was back, completely lacking in branding as always and twice the size of 2012, spanning a whopping four tables (with a fifth containing the Games That Weren’t stand in the middle) and seven of the machines out were mine…

…which were (left to right) an Atari 800XL, two C64s, an Amiga 600HD and a Raspberry Pi running Chameleon Pi so it could be an Apple II or ZX81 emulator with…

…an Amstrad CPC464 and the “trusty” Spectrum +2 (which scared the hell out of me the night before the event when the PSU on the CF converter arced itself to death and took my only spare CF card with it which lead to a mad scrabble to find something that could be “recycled”!) The remaining two machines were an Intellivision and an Atari Jaguar with a white case which were brought along by Mark Ball and Kevin Dempsey respectively and that’s their backs in the picture above too. Sadly, Kevin couldn’t stay for the Sunday but we ended up with a Vectrex running some new games and prototypes instead.

Apart from the event’s food being pretty expensive and not much cop with it, the only “issue” I had was that Dave Footitt was premiering his brand new BBC Micro game Mountain Panic (which I’ve been waiting for since Console Combat back in… well, it was few years back now) and, because that stand was on the far side of the hall from us, the first I heard about it was on Facebook back at the hotel on Saturday evening! Next time I’d really like to see all of us homebrew and indie development bunnies (preferably including people like Llamasoft) all in roughly the same space because it just felt a little spread out this time around.

I’d like to say a quick but more thorough thank you to Spencer Guest, Mark Ball, Kevin Dempsey and Frank Gasking for helping out and turning up with their own gear this year, offer some more general thanks to the organisers who made it possible for us to be there and wave generally at people who made Play a great weekend. To finish off, here’s the gallery of twenty eight images (including three taken before the event) which is, as always, more about machines than anything else although there are a few more cosplayers in there this year.

Play 2013

Pictures taken in the run up and during Play 2013 in Manchester on the 12th and 13th of October.