Saturday, 19 December 2015

Famicom: 8-Bit Music Power cartridge release.

If japan has a Nintendo Famicom homebrew scene, news of it doesn't often make it to the west. Whilst you may be familiar with Japan's Dōjin soft, most of these releases seem to be either on modern platforms or classic computers, without much activity on consoles.  That makes this music demo a bit of a rare beast and add the fact that it's getting a cartridge release and you've got something pretty special.

Although it was announced a while ago, 8-Bit Power now seems to be available to pre-order on Play Asia, for the not completely unreasonable price of $29.99 or £20.07, with what looks to be very nice retail packaging too.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Yet More CPC Homebrew 2015

Another two games from the CPC Retrodev contest on display here, this time it's the winner and runner up.
Space Moves is an absolutely rock hard run and gun game, presumably an unofficial sequel to the original Army Moves. Frogalot is a puzzle platformer type thing, which bears more than a passing resemblance to the classic Nebulus. Both are worth checking out if you're into the kind of low key fun that Amstrad CPC homebrew games offer.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Mega Drive "Mode 7" Kart Racer Demo

Inspired by the SNES's most well known and best loved racer, this Mega Drive kart racer work in progress demo looks fantastic. Although the Mega Drive/ Genesis had many strengths, it lacked the hardware sprite scaling capabilities of the SNES that were known as mode 7 graphics, meaning that Mario Kart like games were thought to be more or less impossible. Thanks to some clever coding though this demo proves that untrue, with a software scaling routine that looks almost as good as the SNES version.  Here's hoping that this gets developed into a full game. 

Monday, 16 November 2015

Amstrad CPC Homebrew From CPC Retrodev

A little video I put together featuring two of my favorites from the CPC Retrodev Competition this month. Despite not placing high on the rankings I love these two games especially RUNCPC, which has to be one of the best homebrews I've played this year. More Vids of games from this compo if I get round to it.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

CPC Retrodev Game Creation Contest Results

The second annual CPC Retrodev competition results are in and no less than  35 games have have been entered this year, a pretty impressive array for a system that's often somewhat overlooked. Organised by the University of Alicante (where else?) this seems to be a really popular event in the CPC calender and to top it off all the games will have a cassette release at some point, though only last years games seem to be available at the moment.  I haven't had change to play all the games yet, but so far RUNCPC is my favorite, despite placing so low down the list.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

More Commodore 16 Homebrew: Dork Dave And The Dirty Trick

After the Majesty of Sprites more majesty comes from the often overlooked ugly stepchild of the Commodore range, the Plus 4 in the form of Dork Dave. This new game is a somewhat Mario inspired platformer, that runs not only on the Plus 4, but the even more modest C16 model. It looks pretty neat and even features parallax scrolling!

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Open Your Eyes to Abre los ojos Commodore PET 8032 Scene Demo

I really can't resist scene demos on obscure platforms and this one's a good one. Coming in first in the wild category at the Finnish Zoo demo party, a well deserved and also inevitable result as it was the only entry, it's an abstract glitchy avant-garde micro masterpiece. As far as I can tell this is the only recent release for this system, the Commodore PET 8032, a slightly upgraded version of the original PET all in one computer. It's good to see 'cos any computer that looks as retrofuturisticly cool as the this PET deserves something cool to run on it. 

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Retrokomp 2015 Demo Party Results

The Polish demo scene party Retrokomp happened this week and the competition results are up at

Two things that stand out on first impressions are a cool looking NES game and a demo on a fairly unusual platform, the good old Sam Coupe.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Majesty of The Majesty of Sprites

The stunning Commodore Plus 4 homebrew game Majesty of Sprites is due for a physical release on disk, thanks to Psytronic software. When? Erm, soon, it would seem, but theres's no exact date.

The game was originally released for the Evoke 2015 party, winning an undeservedly low 3rd place in the interactive competition. Hopefully this new release, which comes as either the standard disk version or as an inevitable deluxe version, will make up for it's slightly overlooked original debut.

If you haven't seen or played the game, it's well worth a look. It makes hugely impressive use of the Plus 4's somewhat limited capabilities, with graphics that could be mistaken for a much more powerful platform.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Houston Tracker 2 - The TI calculator music tracker

Presumably named for the purported home of the hardware, not where this software originates from (it's German), Houston Tracker 2 is the complete music tracking solution for the TI 8x range of programmable calculators. If you're wondering what a music tracker is, well, it's a piece of software that let's you create music. Most classic systems have tracker programs, including some well known examples like LSDJ on the GameBoy and Soundtracker on the Amiga.
It's a pretty impressive achievement for the platform, especially considering that these calculators aren't supposed to have any sound output at all. Cleverly this software makes use of the calculators serial port for sound output and the results are pretty impressive as the above video demonstrates.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Bathyscaphe by Red Triangle - ZX Spectrum Homebrew

A quick video of a new ZX Spectrum homebrew game from Russia. Entered in the 2015 Chaos Constructions party, it's a remake of a classic Electronika BK0010 game, and it definitely has an 80's 'arcade adventure' feel to it.

If you're wondering what the original looked like, well here it is in all it's Soviet era 8-bit glory.

I don't think the soundtrack on the above is the original one, it must have been added by the uploader. If it had any sound at all it would have been fairly sparse.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Translation Sack

The game sack guys have never been ones to shy away from obscure games and systems, featuring some pretty oddball stuff at times, but this episode has to be of particular interest for the gaming obscurist. Fan translations have long been an underground phenomenon, bringing some of the best Japanese releases to English speaking audiences when the original developers can't or wont. There's a few titles that have become cherished on the translation scene, Seiken Densetsu 3, Mother 3, Bahamut Lagoon to name but a few, but in this video a selection of less well known translations are featured. Rent A Hero is a particularly pleasing inclusion as it's an interesting game, if not a good one, plus the NES visual novel version of Akira and a selction of Saturn games. Take a look if you have the time.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Nintendo PlayStation - Further Updates


Just when it seemed that this fabled machine had disappeared back into the ether from whence it came it's owner is back with a much needed update. It looks like the machine will be on display at a Hong Kong retro event HK.Retro very soon, where it will be powered up publicly for the first time.

With so little news about this console oddity, I was beginning to think that maybe Nintendo, Sony or both had stepped in and hushed up the owner. Even though it was acquired legally I thought there maybe some legal rights to it held by the original developers, some complex EULA which gives them rights to it in perpetuity. If there is it seems like they're not enforcing them at the moment.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Sharp X1 - Obscure Systems Showcase

Another video I've made showing a few games for another often overlooked computer system, the Sharp X1. Japanese computer manufacturers liked to have a lot of strings to their bow, often releasing many incompatible systems with overlapping capabilities, and Sharp of course were no exception. They'd already had some success with their 8-bit MZ line, but the X1 series was more focused on gaming, graphics and multimedia rather than productivity. Less well known than NEC's offerings, but still relatively successful, a lot of good games were released on the X1.
The stand out titles here are probably Namco's arcade conversions and the tough but oddly original Brain Breaker. Ther's a very in depth article about Brain Breaker over at Hardcore Gaming 101, which is well worth a look and gives it a far better treatment than I could hope to.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Achtung! The Unofficial Game and Watch Collectors Guide - Out Now!

This guide from David Gschmeidler and Gerhard Meyer is available in English, but surely the original German is the best way for the authentic Teutonic Game and Watch appreciation experience.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

iMPdraw - Amstrad CPC Art Package

An interesting new release for the Amstrad CPC and CPC Plus computers on, a new art package. 
There's a lot more info here, but in French.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Vectrex Roli - Doing what he does best, Vectrex Homebrew!

Another video from Austria's finest retro gaming YouTuber, this time featuring a a selection of three Vectrex hombrews including an all new title, Marine Fox. I could listen to this guy talk all day. 

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Introducing the Recreated ZX Spectrum - The Other One

Yep, the other re-imagined ZX Spectrum has arrived, the one from Elite Systems. Unlike the Vega it's not a plug and play, but essentially a Spectrum shaped Bluetooth keyboard with an accompanying 'app' that lets you play some Speccy games.  The keyboard was always the very worst feature of the original Spectrum and it was only the original and very first models in the Spectrum line up that had the rubber membrane thing. Later models, like the Spectrum + and 128 had much nicer, if not actually good, keyboards to remedy this problem. I'm not sure what the sales figures were, but I wouldn't be surprised to find that later Speccies with better keyboards outsold the rubbery original. It seems odd then that Elite would focus their recreation on the crappiest and most quickly abandoned part of the Spectrum, but I suppose it's iconic and maybe get's peoples attention.
A Spectrum with a less crappy keyboard
I've no idea what the app is like, I'm guessing it's a Spectrum emulator with paid downloads, but everything I've read is a bit light on details. By the sound of things it will function as a 'normal' Bluetooth or  wired keyboard with a lot of devices, so you may well be able to use it with your favorite PC emulator or even Word if you're really that way inclined.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Prepare for the erm... Afterbirth!

What's got to be one of the least appetisingly titled DLC packs in a good while finally has a release date. The new pack apparently has over a 1000 new rooms, a new playable character and probably a load of other stuff too. The bad news is it's not free, unlike Shovel Knight's recent upgrade. Oh well.

Video Game? What Video Game? Take a look at the UK video game market of the late 80's/early 90's

This video, put together by UK video game distributor Telegames, was supposed to be a buyers guide to current systems on the market. It covers a pretty wide range of systems, from the Atari 2600 all the way up to the Megadrive.  It also includes systems that I don't ever remember seeing in the UK, like the Colecovision and the Atari 7800. Probably the most interesting part though is the small segement at the end about the fabled never released Konix Multisystem. The Multisystem has become fairly legendary amongst collectors with  odd bits of information being discovered over the years, culminating with the discovery of software images and even the release of an emulator

Saturday, 5 September 2015

ZX Spectrum Homebrew Lirus

There's no footage of this interesting new homebrew in action yet on YouTube, just the trailer from the developer, so I thought I's remedy that with a play through of the first 5 levels. This has to be one of the best Speccy homebrews I've seen in a while and it's no surprise since developer RetroSouls is also responsible for the excellent Alter Ego games that came out over the past couple of years.

Lirus is an original take on the multi directional Robotron style shooter game, with excellent presentation and fantastic title music. Slower paced and the classics of this genre it's still a lot of fun to play and quickly gets challenging. What really makes it unique is the emergent behavior of the enemy viruses that you are tasked with killing. Rather than moving around the stages like traditional enemies they multiply and spread gradually across the stage like cellular automata, a nice idea that adds an unusual challenge.   Definitely worth checking out.

Friday, 4 September 2015

DragonBox Pyra Gets Closer

The DragonBox Pyra, successor to the Pandora open source console, seems to be edging closer to release. Accoring to the latest news on the Pyra Blog, hardware is in production and prototype units are expected in November.
The path to release for the Pandora was anything but smooth, with people waiting months or even years to receive the console they paid for, but here's hoping that the reorganised team behind the new device have learned from the experience.

As ever the expected price for the machine is as vague as the release date, but it certainly looks cool. 

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

More Chaotic Constructions - Mattel Aquarius Demo

Looks like all the results for the Chaos Constructions Party 2015 are in at  Including a very rare showing for the Matel Aquarius with this demo.

Admittedly it isn't the most impressive scene demo you'll ever see, but it's rarity makes it worth a watch. 

If you're not intimately familiar with failed home computers of the 1980's then you may not have heard of this system. It was pretty undistinguished in every way apart from it's crappyness and was toy company Mattel's attempt at entering the home computer market. They had had some success with the Intellivision console, but they couldn't repeat it here and the system was canned within 5 months. 

Monday, 31 August 2015

Chaos Constructions 2015 - Speccy Game Lirus

Russian demo party Chaos Constructions took place this weekend and whilst not all the results are in yet, or at least up on, this winner of the game dev competition looks pretty promising. I look forward to playing it when I get the chance. 

Friday, 28 August 2015

Obscure Systems Showcase : Casio PV-1000

Casio were an electronics juggernaut in the 80's. Watches, calculators, portable keyboards, personal organisers, you name it - if it took batteries and went beep, Casio made it.

It's no surprise then that Casio attempted to break into the console market, what is a surprise is just how badly they seemed to do. Their first attempt was the PV-1000, an eight bit system released in 1983 and discontinued soon after. Only around 15 games were released for the system and was apparently taken of the market within weeks of it's initial launch. It's no doubt safe to assume that it didn't sell well, but why it's life was so short is a bit of a mystery. The fact that it was released in the same year as the gaming juggernaut the Nintendo Famicom probably didn't help, but it seems odd that Casio abandoned it quickly, perhaps they just realised how outgunned they were. 

It does not seem to be another MSX clone as some sites have reported, as whilst it does have a Z80 processor it has different and less capable graphics and sound chips. There were a lot of 'almost MSXs' released in this era, machines based on similar hardware, but not fully compatible with the standard, but this isn't one of them.  The Casio's graphics and sound are controlled by the custom D65010G031 chip which is reportedly very different from the ones used in the MSX. 

The Video above was made with the ePV-1000 emulator by Toshiya Takeda, which is pretty basic but works well. MESS also emulates the system too.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Heroes & Cowards - The Pentagram of Power

Coward Edition
Another new release for the C64, this time with what seems to be an unusually elaborate physical release available from Protovision Software. The 'Coward Edition' at just 35 EUR comes with the game in a nice tin box, an 80 page manual and a keyring. The 'Hero Edition' at 55 EUR comes with all the above plus a certificate, CD, high quality pentagram and best of all a 'low serial number'. There will apparently be a download only version available in due course, without any of the goodies obviously.

Hero Edition
What's the game like? I have no idea, but it's good to see these kind of ambitious releases on old platforms.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Spectrum Vega - It's Vegaly Good

Well the box looks nice.
The first proper review of the Spectrum Vega is out, thanks to Eurogamer.  Expensive for a plug and play system, it looks to be slightly disappointing considering it's £100 price tag, lacking anything but composite out and not having the best section of games built in. As the Review points out, you can easily get a last gen console for that money or even buy a Raspberry Pi  with quite a bit left over.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Manic Miner Minor - Matt Smith's First Game Remembered

Matt Smith and his creation Manic Miner have taken on a legendary status recently, being featured on mainstream TV and Radio and even getting mentioned by former Labour Leader Ed Milliband during his less than successful election campaign. Mr Smith made few games before quiting the games industry in the 80's, but he does have more to his name than Miner Willy's adventures.

Delta Tau One was the first game he created, all the way back in 1982, for the very early home system the TRS-80. Apparently it was released commercially, selling 13 copies and netting him a profit of £50, presumably leading him on to bigger things. It's a game that rarely gets mentioned even amongst retro-fans, which is a shame 'cos it's quite fun. It's an obvious 'tribute' to Galaga, but it plays very well and is clearly a cut above the average BASIC coded bedroom arcade rip offs that were common in the formative years of the computer boom.

The TRS-80 is not a well remembered system in the UK, it didn't sell in any large numbers and was quickly overtaken by Sinclair and Commodore machines in the market. This probably helps to explain why the game is so little known, as even hard core collectors in the UK don't tend to bother with the old Trash 80. The fact that there are only 13 original copies out there could potentially make it a valuable collectors item if anyone cared enough to seek it out. I've tried looking for it for sale several times, but I all I seem to find is American college memorabilia! If it's out there it's well hidden.

The above video is one I made a while ago. There's no sound on the standard TRS-80, so the soundtrack is the utterly fantastic, but sadly still not officially released Buckie High by Boards of Canada.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

VectrexRoli and his electromechanical games.

VectrexRoli is a YouTuber I've never seen before, but this little view into this often overlooked bit of gaming history is very nicely done and his channel deserves more views than it seems to be getting. Worth a look if you have the time. 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Katakis 3D Nintendo Gameboy Color Prototype On YouTube - PLUS Mario Kart Proto?

Manfred Trenz, creator of the Turrican games and mulleteer extraordinaire, apparently developed a fairly interesting looking Gameboy color game in the early 2000's which sadly never saw a release. Screen shots have existed for a while, but this seems to be the first footage of the game actually running. The game was to be a sequel to the technically impressive and well received C64 orginal and looks like it could have been a worthwile title. Dated 2001, it presumably came a bit too late in the GBC's life for any publisher to take it up.

Another video from the same YouTuber shows what appears to be an alpha of an unreleased Mario Kart game, also said to be the work of Manfred Trenz. This is more than likely an unsolicited tech demo than an actual shelved Nintendo project. Created as a sort of demo reel, most likely to try and get Nintendo's interest, rather than commissioned by them.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Touhou 15 - Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom

Released this week, Touhou 15 - Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom, the latest in the long running Touhou Project series of Danmaku games.  There is of course already at least one one-credit-clear run up on YouTube.  

Like all the Touhou games it's a pretty relaxed casual sort of shooter, that definitely doesn't require Zen like patience, cat like reflexes and a sixth sense for luridly coloured bullets.

Monday, 17 August 2015

It Lives! New game release for the Electronika BK-0011M

First place in the 'wild' category at the DiHalt demo party and a rare new game release for obscure Soviet computer system, the Electronika BK-0011M.

Bomberman: Тест Милены - Whatever it means, this game is a nice action puzzle game, clearly inspired by Hudson's orginial Bomberman, but with it's own unique elements. It's a lot of fun to play if you like that kind of thing.

The Electronika BK range of computers were pretty weird machines, being based on the 16-bit DEC PDP-11 architecture, rather than the usual 8-bit microprocessors of most home machines of the era. The system seemed to have a fairy big following well into 90's, but unlike other machines popular in Russia, such as the Spectrum, it doesn't seem to have much support these days. 

Friday, 14 August 2015

Penultimate - Don't Play the Game: The Stamper Brothers Lost Arcade Games

Coming next, the Stamper Brothers 'lost games'....

The Stamper Brothers, founders of Rare Inc. and the men behind some very fondly remembered games, are back in the news again thanks to the release of Rare Replay on the XBox One. This 30 game compilation has been pretty well received, getting good reviews and making it to the top of the UK charts, no surprise really as it features a lot of quality games. It's interesting just how far back this collections goes, as it includes not just the internationality successful Rare console games, but also early 80's home computer titles from Rare's predecessor, Ultimate Play The Game.

Blue Print - One of the 'lost games'

What this collection doesn't feature are the very first games that the Stampers created, before they made a name for themselves in the British home computer market. It seems that before founding Ultimate, the Stamper brothers worked for a British arcade game developer called Zilec, where they made at least three and maybe as many as twelve coin-op games. They also developed at least one more arcade game with their own newly founded company Ashby Computers and Graphics, which later became known as Ultimate.

The story is pretty murky and it's tough to find any reliable information about these early years, despite their massive later success. Whilst Jetpac, Knight Lore and the rest get a lot of nostalgic attention, these games seem to be almost completely forgotten.

The video above features the three games that seem to be most reliably credited to them. In two of them, Blue Print and Dingo, it's pretty easy to see some parallels with later games. Blue Print has the player collecting parts of a weird machine whilst avoiding nasties in a classic 2D maze, a mechanic that bears some resemblance to the much better known Jetpac. Dingo on the other hand seems to use the exact same font that was used in Atic Atac, released later the same year and it's maze looks a lot like the jungle sections in Sabre Wulf, another Ultimate classic.

Dingo - Similarities to Atic Atac and Sabre Wulf?

What about the other nine? Well, that's hard to say. According to this issue of Commodore user, the Stampers worked on Gyruss, the classic Konami shooter, though other more sensible sources (i.e. everyone) credit that to Yoshiki Okamoto. Zilec did develop quite a few games, some of which were licensed to better known games companies, but most of these came out long after Ultimate started releasing the titles we hear so much about. Were the Stampers moonlighting for Zilec whilst running Ultimate? Maybe, but it doesn't sound likely to me.

Why are these games so obscure? Well it seems like none of them were a huge success, sinking without trace in a very competitive arcade market. Blue Print had a few home conversions on various Atari machines, but this may have been more of an attempt to recoup losses by the distributor Midway, rather than due to massive consumer demand. The other two seemed to just fall of the radar after release, presumably not bringing in many coins.

Atari 2600 Blue Print

The fact that most of these games were developed for and licensed to other companies means that the Stampers probably don't retain the rights and may be unable to release them if they wanted too. It looks like these titles have been pretty much abandoned by both gamers and their creators.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

They do exist! BBC scene demo sighted at Sundown 2015

The BBC range of computers never sees much action with regards to the demo scene. Other systems from the era are always well represented, with the Spectrum and C64 seeing a lot of releases in the 8-bit arena. The BBC is left out usually. Why? The BBC was pretty much exclusively British and the demo scene has never been as big here as in other places, but other than that, I don't know. Even the Tangerine Oric seems to get more demos.

Here then is an unusual, but very nicely done BBC scene demo, which won a well deserved first place at the recent Sundown 2015 party.  

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

God-Fighter Zeroigar - PC-FX English Translation Patch

The NEC PC-FX was a Japanese exclusive console, never released in the west and home to a lot of verbose, text heavy games. Most of it's library is going to be pretty impenetrable unless you are fluent in Japanese and it's relative obscurity and reliance on FMV multimedia stuff makes fan translations rare.
God Fighter Zeroigar is one of the few decent action games available on the system and it now has a fully comprehensive English translation patch released this week, thanks to SamIAm over at  The only emulator currently capable of running it is Mednafen, but it should be worth a look.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Sharp X68000 TV Ads

There's something irresistible about Japanese TV adverts and these two for the very impressive, but largely unknown in the west Sharp X68000 are no exception. I think the fact that it's in Japanese hides the inevitable inanity of the copy and slogans and makes it sound mysterious and exotic when it's probably anything but.

I imagine this Dixons ad seems just as irresistible to people in the far east. But Maybe not.

Monday, 10 August 2015

PC6001 NEC's Other Obscure System

The NEC PC6001 was NEC's other 8-bit system form the early 80's, released along side the PC88 range it was based on the same Z80 processor but was not directly compatible them. It's tough to find information in English about these Japanese home computers, but I'm guessing the PC6001 was supposed to be the 'entry level' machine, being a bit less powerful that the PC88 range and making use of cassettes as a storage medium rather than the more expensive floppies.

Later versions of the machine had more ram and improved graphics and some high end models had floppy drives as standard. Most of the games in this video were designed for the upgraded mark II model which apparently has specs not too different from the Amstrad CPC. 

This video was made with the excellent PC6001VW emulator, one of the best computer system emulators I've used in a while and thankfully has a fully English mode for the UI.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Obscure Systems Showcase PC88

The world of 80's Japanese home computers can be pretty confusing, there were a lot of systems released in a short period of time, often with zero compatibility between product lines. The NEC PC88 series was one of the most popular and perhaps the biggest selling 8-bit computers in Japan. There was a lot of games released for it, many of them which require a good knowledge of Japanese, but more than a few that are very accessible to non speakers, including some interesting action RPG type games.

I played a lot of games whilst making this video, but the ones that really stand out were Door Door, a puzzle platformer and The Scheme, a Metroidvania type game with heavy RPG elements.

The always excellent Hardcore Gaming 101 has an in depth review of The Scheme here.