January 2008 Archives

Captain's Log / star date 2008.0117

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Today I've uploaded the first of what I hope will be a long running series. It's a mini review of the first PD disk that came out of 17-Bit Software. Public domain software was big on the Amiga. Every Amiga magazine you bought in the 90's had adverts from various PD libraries, most often featuring detailed listings of the various disks you could order for a small fee. I remember dissecting the ads back in the early 90's wondering what all the wonderful titles had in store. Although it was relatively expensive ordering PD disks from the UK and have them sent to the Netherlands I do remember ordering various titles from 17-Bit Software and I was never disappointed with what I got!

17-Bit Software was based in Leeds and their name was derived from the fact that they were "that bit better than the rest". They later produced some of the finest games on the Amiga under the guise of Team 17, which most of you will know from such hits as Full Contact and Alien Breed.

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It was around 1993 or 1994 that I managed to pick up an A570 CD-ROM player and the 17-bit Collection CD-ROM to go along with it. Yes, CD-ROM had arrived at my trusty old A500 and I was in heaven with the lion's share of the 17-bit PD library on these 2 compact discs! It was so much bang for my buck. Every library disk had to be copied from CD-ROM to floppy, but then you had the original library disk! I spent countless afternoons and evenings checking out all the fantastic demos, MODs, slideshows, PD games, utilities, you name it!

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I have the complete 17-Bit Collection in my possession now and I'll be reviewing disks from their library every now and then. I'll be picking disks at random and I'll do my best to make screenshots and videos available whenever possible. If you have a fondness for PD as I do, or want to know what it was all about, check out my all new PD Dungeon!

Captain's Log / star date 2008.0115

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This week I had arrive another classic Ocean game called A-Train. A-Train is a train sim that I'm looking forward to playing. When I get the hang of it, I might even try and see if I can get a hold of the A-Train Construction set, which is a construction kit for this game. :-)

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I also managed to get a hold of a fully boxed and seemingly NOS (new old stock) A1050, which is the 256K RAM expansion for the A1000. My A1000 is already expanded with 256K, but I just couldn't pass up on snatching up this immaculate boxed version. 

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I also bought a cradle for my GP2X. I bought the cradle to be able to easily hook it up to my TV. Thus begins the quest to find compatible USB controllers so I can play some of that retro goodness on my HDTV with friends. I have to admit that the GP2X has been keeping me occupied more than my new PS3. This last week specifically I've been playing more Ruckman, Blingo (from the same author) and also Happelaar (Munchkin to all you non-Dutch speaking folk) and a Tetris clone called Puzzle Piece Panic on the Philips Videopac G7000 emulator for the GP2X. 

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Captain's Log / star date 2008.0105

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Happy New Year! The holidays have certainly brought their fair share of presents! My GP2X F-200 finally arrived somewhere between X-Mas and New Year's. After having the 'official' GP2X AC power adapter and TV out cable in my posession for some time already, the unit itself arrived from Hong Kong. I ordered it at play-asia.com, because the price of the GP2X in Europe is EUR 169, while it's US$ 169 in the US. Well, given the fact that US$ 169 equates to roughly EUR 115 and the fact that I used a US$ 10 coupon with my order, you'll understand why I got it from Hong Kong instead of one of the European local GP2X dealers.

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I also bought a 4GB SDHC memory card for starters. I don't believe I'll be using the GP2X that much for music or video. I'll primarily use it for handheld retro gaming and as such 4GB is quite enough to fit a very decent selection of emulators and ROMs from all the classic 8-bit and 16-bit consoles and micros. The wonderful thing about this specific SDHC card is that it has a USB adapter included so that I can easily plug it into my laptop or iMac and fill it with software and games. When I'm done I just unplug, remove the USB adapter and insert the SDHC card in my GP2X and I'm ready to go. A much nicer and tidier solution than using the supplied USB cable and hooking the GP2X up to your computer!

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Up until now I've only had the time to install a SNES emulator with a couple of my favourite SNES game ROMs (Super Mario All Stars, Captain Commando and Knights of the Round) and have a play with those, but I was pleasantly surprised having found myself spending most of my time on the GP2X playing the absolutely brilliant Ruckman, which is a Pacman clone that's available as a built-in game. The gameplay is superb and the soundtrack is fantastic.

The GP2X wasn't the only thing Santa Claus dropped off. I finally jumped on the HDTV wagon and bought a PlayStation3 to go along with it. Although retro gaming is one of my hobbies that doesn't mean I don't appreciate current gen stuff. Having had both an Xbox 360 and a Nintendo Wii since launch day I quickly grew bored of them and sold them for the same amount I bought them. The PlayStation3 has managed to keep my interest longer than both its competitors, so I think I'll stick with it as my current gen console.

Oh, one more thing, I managed to score one of the ultimate A500 peripherals ever, if not the ultimate A500 accessory: the Viper 530. It's an expansion card that plugs into the A500's CPU socket and expands your A500 with a 68030 processor at 50 MHz, an optional 68882 FPU, 2 IDE controllers and allows memory expansion to a whopping 128 MB! Besides being the ultimate expansion to the A500, the Viper 530 is probably one of the scarcest pieces of A500 hardware around. So very few have ever been found in the wild, leading some to believe the card was vapourware or never got past the prototype stage, propelling it to near mythical status. Well, I can confirm it does exist as it is currently installed in my A500+. More info and details on the Viper 530 will follow in the near future. 

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