Archive for the ‘Playing’ Category

Margate is cold in February

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

On Saturday the 21st of February we held the Cosine (UK division) annual general meeting… in other words Sean, Frank and myself made our way to Margate for GEEK (or Games Expo East Kent to its parents) for a mixture of video games, “bracing” sea air and a chance to sit down face to face and chat about projects. My Beloved came along too in order to take the minutes try not to look bored as we talked shop!

We did actually find some time to wander around the venue, soak in some atmosphere, chat with friends and occasionally even play a game or two; I had a quick go on the pretty horizontal Neo Geo blaster Last Resort since the old favourite Ghost Pilots wasn’t present this year and found an Atari 7800 running the wonderfully weird Ninja Golf where a ninja plays a round of golf whilst fighting off opponents and the local wildlife.

But there was far less in the way of retro gaming than at previous iterations; we did see some Atari 8-bit consoles and couple of Sega Master Systems, but there was no sign of any Commodore, Sinclair, Amstrad, Acorn or Atari computers. We weren’t alone in feeling there could have been more from “the olde days” either, most of the people we talked to felt the same and the sticker board put out by the organisers for feedback looked like this:

The word “landslide” springs to mind. And yes, I know the event wasn’t started as a purely retro gaming do but the previous iterations all covered that ground well so people were expecting a continuation this time around. I’ve heard that GEEK is going to be moving into Margate’s Dreamland amusement park next year which should equate to more floor space, so hopefully the organisers will listen to their visitors when planning for 2016 and bring back the retro goodness. In the meantime, here’s some photos taken on that Saturday.

GEEK 2015

Pictures taken during Games Expo East Kent (GEEK) 2015 in Margate on the 21st of February.

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”.