Thursday 29 December 2011

Zooming Secretary (NES)

Like most people of my generation I've done my fair share of temp work. Call centres, shelf stacking, data entry, administration and filing... all tedious and soul destroying jobs that I would never have imagined could result in an enjoyable and addictive game design. However, Shiru and PinWizz have somehow taken the combination of phone answering, filing and a variety of office stereotypes and lovingly moulded them in to an excellent arcade title for the NES/Famicom. Underpaid and overworked office minions of the world, Zooming Secretary is a game written for you.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Kobayashi Maru (Atari Jaguar)

The Atari Jaguar has always been an object of aspiration for me, probably due to being a massively impressionable teenager when it first came on the scene. Later in life I almost spent a stupid amount of money sourcing one from eBay during my days of running up student debt, but like my ill-advised attempt at Vectrex ownership I was finally beaten by someone with stronger nerves and a bigger bank balance. Strange then, that I have never actually installed a Jaguar emulator until I publicly called dibs on reviewing Reboot's rotary Jaguar shooter Kobayashi Maru.

Monday 19 December 2011

Kobo Deluxe (PC/Mac/Linux)

I first discovered Bosconian on one of those ultra-cute Namco "Direct-to-TV" joysticks that were popular at the start of the last decade and it instantly became one of my favourite classic-generation shoot 'em ups. There was something so gratifying about flying freely around 8-directional space, blasting asteroids and enemy fighters and of course obliterating the well-defended alien space stations. I drained several sets of AA batteries whilst 'in the zone' and to this day still prefer the Jakks TV port over the original ROM emulated via MAME (but admittedly that is possibly because the controller itself is so cool). In fact, it was around the point when I debated whether or not to buy an AC adapter for the game that I first read about Kobo Deluxe... a quick download later I was well and truly hooked and the DTV ended up on ebay shortly afterwards.

Thursday 15 December 2011

Retro News Update

'Tis the season to be jolly (so they say), but 'tis also the season to be incredibly busy with little time for reviewing, so here's an early Christmas delivery of stuff that we haven't had time to feature over the past couple of weeks.

The festive period always delivers a stocking bursting with new retro releases, and this year is no different with some exciting games, freebies, previews and bundles. So without further a-do, here's the news.

Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe (PC)

Our original review of Andrew Morrish's Super Puzzle Platformer is still the most viewed post on this blog - and with it's gorgeous low resolution visuals and maddeningly addictive game-play it's easy to see why. A mash-up of Mr. Driller and arcade shoot'em up, Super Puzzle Platformer's design was pure genius and far too much fun to be wasted on a simple browser-based prototype, so myself, Simon from Pixel Prospector (and quite possibly many, many others) begged for a further enhanced version - and now several months later Andrew has announced a fully-fledged deluxe version is in the works. With multiplayer, new levels, new obstacles, unlockable characters and "lots of other shit", Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe could well be the Super Meat Boy of 2012. Yeah, it looks that good..!

Tuesday 6 December 2011

C64anabalt (C64) (2011)

System Requirements

* A Commodore 64/128/GS (PAL/NTSC).
* A joystick/joypad.
* A VDU preferably connected to a loud sound-system.


Download C64anabalt in .bin/.crt cartridge format HERE!
Download C64anabalt in .d64 disk format HERE!
Download C64anabalt in .tap tape format HERE!

BONUS! Download mp3 recordings of the two soundtracks HERE!
BONUS! Check out Onslaught's cracked version in .d64 disk format HERE!

EMULATOR PACKAGE! Download the ready-to-run Onslaught version combined with the Windows 32-Bit version of the VICE emulator HERE!


C64anabalt is an official conversion of Adam Atomic & Danny B.'s award winning single-button 2009 indie game Canabalt for the 8-Bit, 64KB RAM, 1Mhz Commodore 64 home computer developed by Paul Koller (Paulko64). This particular version was designed to run from a 16KB cartridge (although there are also tape and disk versions available to download as well).

The game was developed as an entry for the RGCD C64 16KB Cartridge Game Development Competition (2011), and the name C64anabalt was suggested by Adam Atomic himself. The physics and procedural algorithms are based on those documented in the original game's open source code.

There are two versions of C64anabalt available; one with a SID chip conversion of Danny B.'s original score by Mikkel Hastrup (Encore), and an alternative build featuring music from the PC indie game ThrustBurst by Andreas Slotte (Ghormak). Unfortunately it wasn't possible to fit them both into a single 16KB ROM, so we've made two versions available to order (more on that in a bit) or download.

Interestingly, there is a second unofficial version of Canabalt available for the C64 that was developed by Andreas Varga (Mr. SID). The two versions were developed without the coders' knowledge that each other were porting the same game. Mr. SID's version featured the RUN track by Encore and this was reused for the official build with his kind permission. Check out his fantastic C64 Prince of Persia conversion if you get a chance! ;)

Playing The Game

To play C64anabalt you will need either a real C64 (and a method of transferring the game over to it) or an emulator. For emulator users, we recommend VICE, as it works on a variety of systems and is very user friendly. Just download the emulator and either attach the cartridge images themselves or drag and drop the .d64 file into the open program window.

Like the original, C64anabalt is a simple one-button game. The anonymous game character automatically runs onward at an ever increasing speed, and the only control open to the player is to make him jump by pressing fire on the joystick attached to port 2. Whilst you attempt your daring escape over the rooftops (and through the buildings) of the war-torn cityscape you'll encounter a variety of hazards and different ways to die.

Hitting boxes and furniture slows you down and should be used to control your speed. However, slow down too much however and you may not make your next jump.

Collapsing buildings (recognisable by their cracked exterior) will steadily drop down off the bottom of the screen. Make sure you don't go down with them.

Bombs fall from the sky and explode upon contact. Avoid.

You'll also encounter sheet glass windows to dramatically leap through, doves that take flight as you approach and the occasional enemy jet that screams past. None of these are hazardous (so don't panic).

Death is inevitable. Your goal is simply to survive as long as possible and cover a greater distance than your previous attempt.

Promotional Trailer

Below is a video of C64anabalt running on a C64c via the Ultimate 1541-II cartridge. This is the Encore build of the game.

NTSC Compatibility

C64anabalt is compatible with NTSC C64's, but lacks the static parallax background cityscape (the background scrolls instead) and it stutters slightly at high running speeds (due to the NTSC machine having less CPU time available). The game also plays fractionally faster than the PAL version. None of these issues severely affect the play of the game, but it should be noted that the game was coded specifically for PAL machines.


The following people made this game possible.

Design & Concept
Adam Saltsman (Semi Secret Software)

C64 Conversion
Paul Koller

SID Music
Mikkel Hastrup (Undone)
Andreas Slotte (Umlautgames)

James Monkman (RGCD)

NTSC Testing
Raymond Lejuez

Cartridge Hardware
Tim Harris (Shareware Plus)

Tape Mastering (& Loader Game)
Richard Bayliss (TND)
Martin Piper

Cartridge version of C64anabalt Published by RGCD, 2011. Special thanks go out to Andreas Varga for giving permission to share the excellent soundtrack from his unofficial version of the game.

Ordering The Official Cartridge

The official C64anabalt cartridge is available to buy from our shop. The game is presented in a dove-grey cartridge shell, complete with box art by Adam Saltsman and a printed manual.

The cartridge version is available in two packaging types, a standard card carton and a more expensive 'deluxe version' that comes in a plastic case (a Universal Game Case with a specially cut foam insert to hold the cartridge). The standard version is priced at £17, whereas the deluxe version costs £22. Shipping is £4 for UK/Europe and £5 for the rest of the world.

Byte Me (ZX Spectrum)

Jonathan Cauldwell's Byte Me was sold to me by my esteemed colleague (and Editor) on the basis that it would enable me to relive my days as a skivvy at a well-known fast food outlet. Despite this dubious recommendation I was prepared to give it a go and I am pleased to report that it is nowhere near as dull as the aforementioned experience. The one key difference between my (thankfully) long ago slavery to the BBQ sauce-stained masses and this simulated version is that whereas my role only contained a mild amount of peril, this has peril by the bucket-load.

Out-Space (C64)

I was going to review another game this week. I won't say which one, but it looked really cool and grabbed me as soon as I laid eyes on it. Then I spent three or four days of solid playing trying to actually have an opinion on it and I couldn't come up with anything. It's easy to decry something but I couldn't even manage that.

Out-Space, a single axis shooter for the Commodore 64 was my second choice and failed entirely to disappoint. The C64 scene really is shockingly dependable as far as producing good quality product is concerned and Jason Tinkler's shooter which premiered at the recent Replay Expo 2011 sticks with this tradition in supplying quirky, solid and addictive gameplay.

Astro Dodge (Philips Videopac/Magnavox Odyssey2)

Regular readers of RGCD will probably already know about their r0x game for the Atari STE computer, released back in 2009. Simple, yet fun to play, r0x proved that a space themed action game doesn't have to involve shooting all the time to have a blast. In fact, you don't have to shoot at all - a statement proven yet again in Astro Dodge, a new release for Philips Videopac and Magnavox Odyssey2 consoles by the Dutch based Revival Studios.

Thursday 1 December 2011

RGCD C64 Cartridge Development Competition 2011

Just over half an hour ago, the first RGCD C64 Cartridge Development Competition concluded with 11 brand new games for the C64!

And without further introduction... here they are (in original .CRT and .BIN rom format) :)

Blok Copy (Cosine Systems)
C64anabalt (Paulko64)
Fairy Well (Wide Pixel Games)
Fortress of Narzod (TRSI)
Get Em (Endurion)
Jars' Revenge (TRSI)
Panic Analogue (Goin' Sideways)
Rong - Ron's Pong (Software of Sweden)
Space Lords (
The Mollusk (Achim Volkers)
Woolly Jumper (16KB Version) (The New Dimension)

More news will follow soon... I've been ill for the past week, so there's a backlog of review posts awaiting my attention (and publishing) - but for now I'll have a beer and raise my glass to all the entrants who managed to beat the deadline. Cheers guys!

Friday 18 November 2011

Fortress of Narzod Cartridge Available! (C64)

With the deadline of our cartridge development competition only a few weeks away, Peiselulli and I decided that we'd release the cartridge version of Fortress of Narzod prior to the slew of new games that'll be available soon after the results are announced - so here it is!

Originally released at Breakpoint 2009, TRSI's C64 conversion of this Vectrex exclusive title remains one of the highest scoring games on the Commodore Scene Database - and for good reason too. Fortress of Narzod is an amazing little vector-based shmup that is quite unlike anything else on the C64, with it's bizarre array of enemies, bullet-ricochetting blast 'em up action and unique visual style.

Fortress of Narzod utilises the border areas of the screen to maximise the play area and the excellent 8580 soundtrack by Linus really takes this production to the next level. The game requires no keyboard input (even the high score table is controlled via the joystick) so it will work on the C64GS, but unfortunately the full-screen action comes at a cost of not running on NTSC machines (sorry!).

The cartridge is packaged in a box designed by Kay Failla of BitFellas, complete with a printed manual. The game is freely available to download (from it's CSDB page) and the cartridge version is available from our shop now for the usual price (£19 within the EU or £20 elsewhere, shipping included).

Monday 14 November 2011

Retro News Update

Wow. The retro and indie gaming scenes have exploded over the past fortnight, with a ton of releases more than worthy of your attention yet sadly not enough hours in the day for us at RGCD to cover them all in detail. So starting with the modern indie scene, here's what we've been playing for the past few days.

Nitronic Rush (PC)

Mmmmmm, this looks just a bit like Tron, doesn't it?

Despite the 'classic' film and remake/sequel/whatever both being complete pants in regard to actual story quality and science, no one can argue the fact that Tron looks bloody gorgeous. And as you can see, the same applies to Nitronic Rush - an AAA quality Tron-meets-Wipeout futuristic stunt racer developed by a group of students at the DigiPen Institute of Technology.

When I first saw a video of Nitronic Rush in action I initially dismissed the game as being yet another title that wouldn't run on my aged desktop, but surprisingly it runs at full speed with all the settings maxed out, so don't pay too much attention to those recommended system specs. The game itself is without a doubt the best indie racer I've played for years, and I actually feel guilty playing it for free. If it had multiplayer support (or at least other AI controlled cars to race against other than 'ghosts') then it would be perfect, but as it stands it's still a contender for freeware game of the year. Avoiding giant neon buzzsaws in a flying car has never been so much fun.

Saturday 12 November 2011

Stealth Bastard (PC)

Sometimes writing about video games is a weird business. You pick, or are assigned, a game to review, then play it and then smack a keyboard until words come out, and sometimes they're even in the right order. That's how it's supposed to work. Then sometimes you sign up to review a game and spend the whole week playing it without putting a single word on paper because it's that gripping.

Every night of the last week I've been toughing out what I think might be the beginnings of carpal tunnel in my right hand to play Stealth Bastard: Tactical Espionage Arsehole. It's a bit good.

Friday 11 November 2011

Dingo (ZX Spectrum)

Not being a regular follower (until now!) of the retro games scene I was most pleasantly surprised to see this new Spectrum release at the Replay Expo in Blackpool. The Speccy lives!

Based on the 1983 coin-op produced by Ashby Computer Graphics (perhaps better known as Ultimate Play the Game), in Dingo you take the role of Big Ted, a bear who is extremely fond of fruit – so much so that he has cultivated an enormous melon patch in the jungle. Alas, Big Ted's patch has been invaded by a pack of dingoes who love nothing better than destruction and will stomp poor Ted's fruit patch for kicks. So, Ted is set for his quickest harvest ever as he tries to gather up all the fruit before the dingoes can get to it.

Seaweed Assault (Atari 2600)

One of my first ever articles for RGCD, back when the magazine still came out on a compact disc, was a review of a homebrew game for the venerable Atari 2600. Some of my favourite gaming experiences ever have been on my trusty Atari 7800, ploughing through the back catalogue of 2600 games it was happily backwards compatible with. So it's a good feeling to finally review a game for the VCS once more.

Seaweed Assault is a submarine game with (brace for terrible pun that is also true) hidden depths. Like any game on the humble but legendary Woody, gameplay has to shine through unavoidably plain graphics and Seaweed Assault throws enough subtle kinks into the arena shooter format to make for a replayable gaming experience.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Replay Expo 2011

Wow, what a hang over. It's taken me the best part of a week to fully recover from a alcohol-fuelled weekend at Replay Expo 2011 in Blackpool, the first retro event I've attended as a regular visitor and not a stall holder (with my good friend and fellow games enthusiast John Dennis). This year's Replay was held in Norbreck Castle, a venue which sadly was not as grand as it sounds, and I believe hosted something in the region of 2500 visitors on each of the two days it was open - all under one roof. It was a massive event with loads of systems available to play on - and as you can probably imagine, there was a fair bit of retro homebrew on display as well (although sadly the modern indie scene was completely ignored - RGCD may have to bear that torch ourselves next year).

In fear of boring you with trivial details (not that I can actually remember many), I'll just share a few photos and discuss some of the highlights of the show.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Escape Goat (XBLIG)

The number of games in which one plays a goat is disappointingly small, whereas other animals (fish, dogs, cats, monkeys etc.) seem to have no problem landing a starring role. Thankfully Ian Stocker a.k.a. MagicalTimeBean has added to the small pool of goat-em-ups with a game that is outstanding for more than just its hero's taxonomy.

Essentially, Escape Goat is an arcade platform puzzler with 50+ single-screen levels to be tackled. Each level's goal is simple – get the keys and get to the exit. Switches need to be pressed, and baddies avoided – straight forward enough, although the actions of switches can dramatically change the layout of blocks upon a screen – so trial and error are the order of the day here. The virtually instant restarts after death or by pressing 'back', encourage this approach.

Whilst your goat-hero is a nimble fellow – possessing tight controls, double jumps and a block-moving charge – he would not be able to complete his quest without the assistance of his mouse familiar. This rodent friend can be sent scurrying in a direction, up walls, over ceilings and through tiny gaps to press buttons that would be otherwise inaccessible. Also some levels feature a magic hat pick-up which enable your goat and mouse to exchange places. As we all know, magic hats improve any game ten-fold.

Coracle (ZX Spectrum)

Awkward introductions are normally the reserve of weddings and dinner parties as the 'plus one' of a proper guest. The virtual world of videogames is where we retreat to avoid these kind of interactions. Thus initial meetings with a new videogame are usually refreshingly straightforward – often following the tried and tested format of... "this is game X: it's a bit like game Y". Or possibly "It is like game Y with elements of game Z". Not so with Jonathan Cauldwell's latest offering Coracle for the ZX Spectrum. From somewhere within his mind yet another new game that is rather difficult to describe has sprung forth.

La Mulana (PC)

[Originally reviewed by T. Fahs in RGCD Issue #02, May 2007]

La-Mulana isn't just a celebration of a moment in gaming history, it's a distillation of rose-tinted memories and savvy design that manages to completely transcend the very games it hopes to imitate. A thoughtful love-letter to the MSX home computer, it's a childhood's worth of memories brought to life, somehow better than the real experience ever was.

The MSX was something of an underdog as a gaming platform. Despite the 4 million units sold, the dated video hardware – the very same used by the ColecoVision and SG-1000 – couldn't compete with Nintendo's Famicom, and it didn't get great third party support, except from Konami. But Konami loved the MSX, and legendary classics like Castlevania, Metal Gear, and Snatcher all called the platform home. So it is fitting, then, that La-Mulana draws most heavily from these games. The most obvious influence is the open-ended platform-adventure Maze of Gallious, but you'll see winks to a lot of Konami's greats littered throughout.

Dragonwing (VIC20)

[Originally reviewed by SirClive in RGCD Issue #01, February 2007]

The VIC-20 is something of an unsung hero in the home computer world. Launched in 1981, it was Commodore's answer to the Atari VCS and Intellivision consoles. But with the addition of a real keyboard it offered a colour computer at an amazing price (under $300 in the US). It was the first home computer to sell one million units and at the height of its popularity they were churning out over 9,000 units a day. So why is it now treated like your embarrassing uncle with the ill-fitting wig? Well mostly it's because of it was overshadowed by it's flashy little brother the Commodore 64, but it really is criminal to miss out on some classic games from the dawn of home computing.

If we fast-forward 20 years to Finland, we find a near legendary coder/musician from the Amiga Demo scene going through some form of electronic regression back to the (8-bit) womb. Moving backwards through the Commodore hardware catalogue, Aleksi Eeben creates a game on the humble unexpanded VIC-20 and it is quite simply hard to believe that it could all be done in just 3.5k!

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Voxatron (PC/Mac/Linux)

The Voxatron experience begins with a polygonal Minotaur smashing the crap out of the production team’s logo. With this in mind, Voxatron really did have me at "hello".

This bout of battery sets the scenes for a game heavy on destruction and ruination, but it’s not hard to predict that. What was a tougher call for me was that this game would be the first indie game I’ve played to send me flashing back through the years, like a low budget Highlander, to the first time I stayed up all night playing a video game.

Retroinvaders (ZX Spectrum)

I've always loved the timeless character and aesthetics of Taito's classic Space Invaders, but if I'm completely honest I just don't think that the game itself has aged particularly well over the past 30 or so years. With their considerably more dynamic attack waves, Namco's Galaxian and Galaga are much more fun, but when it comes to classic coin-op alien-shooters, Konami's Gyruss has always been my personal favourite. With it's innovative rotary shoot 'em up game-play and enemy waves that weave and dive in and out of the screen, Gyruss seems light years ahead of it's heritage - yet despite being hugely enjoyable to play it lacks a distinct visual identity. Space Invaders, Galaxian and Galaga all have immediately recognisable enemies, whereas Gyruss features rather generic looking spacecraft and nondescript spinning alien blobs.

Now if only someone was to marry the future-proof Gyruss design with the classic visuals of those earlier shooters... Oh, hang on a sec - Retroinvaders, you say? What have we here then?

Monday 31 October 2011

Retro News Update

Yet again I've let the news build up to the point where the only way to tackle it is via a mammoth post. So without further delay, let's have a brief look over what's been happening over the past week in the retro and indie gaming scene. More detailed reviews of select releases to follow soon.

Gunlord (Dreamcast/Neo-Geo)

We originally mentioned NG:DEV's Gunlord when the game was first announced back in May this year. After months of waiting, the game is finally available for pre-order for both the Neo-Geo (AES/MVS) and Dreamcast, with a release planned between late 2011 to early 2012. If the new nine-minute game trailer is anything to go by, Gun-Lord looks to be the solid Turrican style blaster that we were all hoping for (complete with lightning-flash style cannon and familiar morphball attack). Could this be the indie publisher's best game to date? The trailer may initially seem a bit underwhelming in comparison to Fast Striker's eye-popping visuals (the voice narrating the background story over static images is particularly hammy, but give it a chance) and the price tag is perhaps a little steep (32 Euros for the regular DC edition and a whopping 400 for the MVS/AES!), but regardless - there's nothing we love more at RGCD HQ than a bit of no-nonsense run 'n' gun fun, so our purchase is already in the bag. Expect a review when the game is released.

Saturday 22 October 2011

Cho Ren Sha 68K (PC/Sharp X68000)

In the first of a series of critical retrospective features, RGCD will be looking back at some of the classic homebrew releases for both modern and retro platforms. In this first article, Sven 'ptoing' Ruthner takes an in-depth look at Yoshida Koichi's classic shmup ChoRenSha68K (particularly it's undocumented features and game modes) 16 years on from it's original release.

I have read my fair share of more recent reviews of ChoRenSha and what many seem to forget is that this is not a release from 2001 or 2005 or whatnot, although that is the time when it became popular in the West due to the internet making Eastern doujin games available to a wider audience of players. In fact, the original version was actually made in 1995 for for the Sharp X68000 (hence the 68K in the title), and if you look what was in the arcades around at that time it holds up well, especially since this was essentially a one man effort. Apart from the (excellent) music which was made by Ruzarin Kashiwagi, everything else was made by Yoshida Koichi himself.

Monday 17 October 2011

Prince Of Persia (C64)

Nine days ago, Andreas Varga (aka Mr. SID) announced that he'd be releasing a C64 conversion of the classic Apple II version of Broderbund's Prince Of Persia - and today he delivered on his word, with a near-perfect port freely available as a cartridge image in the popular EasyFlash format. It's an awe-inspiring achievement, although arguably being one that perhaps wouldn't be quite so impressive if it wasn't for a little bit of help from the 21st Century hardware required to run it on a real machine.

For those of you who haven't heard of EasyFlash before, basically it's a 1MB flash cartridge for the Commodore 64, with the bonus being that it is entirely programable from a standard system with a disk drive - it's relatively user friendly with no UV lamp or EPROM programmer required and it's cheap to build yourself or buy online. Now that's all well and good, but until now use of the device has been limited to replaying old cartridge games and the occasional enhanced crack. However, with Prince Of Persia - a game specifically written for the EasyFlash - it's true potential for releasing new games that wouldn't be feasible in other media formats has been realised; EasyFlash now has it's killer app.

Friday 14 October 2011

Space Disposal (ZX Spectrum)

Hooray! It seems like ages since I last had a bit of space-themed blasting on the old Speccy, and with a name like Space Disposal surely the game will be full of pure and unadulterated asteroid-cracking and enemy-'disposing' mayhem. Ah, but hang on - what's this? "Authored with Arcade Game Designer" by Paul Jenkinson? As in the same guy who previously delivered the uninspired Chopper Drop? Harrumpf. Oh well, I guess I'd better prepare myself for a critical write up of another mediocre game...

...Or perhaps not. In fact, despite being developed using the more-than-slightly sluggish AGD, Space Disposal is actually quite a lot of fun. Unlike Paul's other recent game (which looked quite nice but was tedious to play), this one actually features some solid design and decent gameplay - as well as looking and sounding good. Now where is that humble pie? I suppose I should have a slice with my afternoon cup of tea.

C64 16KB Cartridge Game Development Competition - Status Update #5

I haven't posted one of these competition updates for a while, but that's not because there's been no activity! On the contrary, our good friend Tim Harris has been testing previews and test builds on real cartridge hardware on a near daily basis. So with just over a month and a half left, let's have a look at the development status of the entries.

Leg It / Zombie (PC)

Zombies and running are subjects that fit together very well; you have to do one to escape the other, for instance, and one of these two things can't do the other thing at all (cue internet fight over Fast Zombies™). And of course without raising the dead there would be no zombies to run away from, or to shoot in the face. With this in mind I'm grave robbing some releases from a staggering six months ago, one a complete game and the other a work-in-progress that seems to be cooling its heels in development limbo.

Leg It and Zombie are games in the style of 1980/90's LCD handheld games like Nintendo's Game & Watch series; Leg It is a finished product now, with its gun toting brother Zombie still in beta - both of them were made available for download in March and April respectively but there seems to be little internet chatter about them, and Retro Remakes only picked up on them in the first week of this month (this is the bit where I'm trying to convince the Ed that this is worth publishing, by the way!) and good indie games could always do with a little extra publicity.

Tuesday 11 October 2011

8-Bit Night (PC)

RetroSouls' world-rotating platformer 8-Bit Night (formally known as 8-Bit Story and MegaRunner before that) has finally been released on the PC... But hang on, something about this game feels very familiar, doesn't it?  That's right - regular RGCD readers will recognise that 8-Bit Night is essentially an enhanced PC conversion of Alter Ego, a game that the same developer (and later Shiru) released for the ZX Spectrum and NES to pretty much universal acclaim.

8-Bit Night is a game built around a simple, yet previously unused mechanic.  On a base level it's a standard retro platform romp (which is where I imagine the 8-Bit of the title comes in) - your little man must collect all the glowing 'pixels' on each level whilst avoiding spikes, nasties and falling to your death.  Same old, same old.  However, the special trick here is the addition of a ghost character whose position and movements mirror yours on the opposite side of the horizontal (or vertical) axis across the centre of each level. Pressing the action key or button flips the world and swaps your position with the ghost - enabling you to reach areas (and pixels) that were previously inaccessible.  Also, some pixels can only be collected by your ghost character, whereas others are limited to one particular axis, resulting in some top quality puzzle solving fun.

Monday 10 October 2011

Buzzsaw+ (ZX Spectrum)

Possibly inspired by a fairly obscure Japanese arcade game from 1992 called 'Cosmo Gang The Puzzle', Buzzsaw is a variation on the Tetris premise of arranging falling blocks to complete lines, but with the addition of cute baddies that get in the way of actually completing those lines. Each block that drops is the same basic shape – just three tiles in an 'L' shape. If all three components were always crates (the default block) then this would be the most trivial Tetris variant ever – but instead some tiles in these blocks may be replaced by the aforementioned baddies, or weights that crush baddies. The most spectacular variant, however, is when a tile is replaced by the titular Buzzsaw. This is a circular sawblade that, upon being placed, carves through any baddies below it, and then skips off to the left or right (dependent on orientation) massacring any baddies in the playfield it gets to. Placement of the little critters is thus crucial to allow them to be Buzzsawed later - and at faster levels this game becomes a hectic juggling act, exactly as one hopes of this sort of action puzzle game.

Frank 'N' Stein Re-Booted (ZX Spectrum)

Let's get this straight - Han shot first and ET's pursuers carried guns - but the jury is still out on Deckard's voice-over/the happy ending/whether he was a replicant.

So what should we make of this revisionist-history re-work of the 1984 ZX Spectrum game Frank 'n' Stein? Upon its initial release this game was one of many games that could trace their heritage to Donkey Kong and Miner 2049er. The player is asked to guide Professor Stein to collect (in order) the items required to build his monster. Baddies follow fixed paths and hinder progress, and a timer ticks down. So far so Miner Willy. The difference here is that our hero has no 'jump' button, but rather has to use the action button to trigger poles, springs and teleporters in order to navigate between platforms and avoid death-by-surreal-baddy. Other special floor tiles either slow down, or in some way impede the Professor's progress.

Saturday 8 October 2011

Brainsplode! (PC)

Firing projectiles along parabolic arcs from a fixed position to blow stuff up is a fine starting point for any game. The experience is made even better with a variety of different munitions to sling at the target. Rust Red Games' Brainsplode! certainly hits these two targets, with its entertaining, challenging brain-blasting gameplay.

Blowing up alien brains with shots fired from a fixed cannon is the name of the game here, and while at first glance it seems like a straight up artillery game the puzzle elements thrown into the mix add a surprising depth of play which pushes Brainsplode! over the line from entertaining to addictive.

Friday 7 October 2011

Picnic Mayhem (PC/iOS/Android)

Well, I was waiting for it to happen, and it finally did - PC demo gods Farbrausch finally got their own games division, called Gamebrausch. I had some conversations on IRC with one of their members (gizmo) a year ago and he seemed eager to do this, so I'm glad he finally got it started.

Sunday 2 October 2011

Panic Analogue (Preview) (C64)

This is what the RGCD cart development competition is all about - encouraging new groups with a fresh perspective to code new games on the C64. H Macaroni of Goin' Sideways has been recently keeping me up to date with the development of their debut game project Panic Analogue, which has now reached a stable, near finished preview state (with just a few tweaks and minor bug fixes to go). I know that I've been getting hyped about pretty much every game announced so far, but in this case the excitement is particularly well-deserved. Another title that only just squeezes into the limits of a 16KB cartridge, Panic Analogue is fast-paced game of skill for one or two players, with the unique selling point being that it's one of the very few C64 releases designed around the use of analogue paddles; they're not just supported, they are actually required.

When I heard about this I was initially wary due to the scarcity of C64 paddles, and recommended that joystick support should be incorporated. "Believe me," came the reply, "we have discussed that subject, but are absolutely certain that if joystick support was added it would be a great disadvantage for the game! People would try it, and throw it in the trash. These kinds of games are impossible to play with a joystick when you get to the higher levels, since you really need the speed of an analogue controller. We know that by making a paddle-only game a lot of people won't be able to try it easily, but hey, if we wanted to go for the widest possible audience we would code some iphoneapp. And think about all the (20?) people around the world who are sitting with their paddles and waiting for new paddle-games - we are fighting for them!"

Thursday 29 September 2011

Dunjon Battler (C64)

As the deliberate misspelling of the titular dungeon suggests, Dunjon Battler is an overly simplistic hack-and-slash arcade-style rpg that's light on the role play and heavy on the hacking. It may have the crude visual appearance of a game that's dropped out of a timewarp from 1985 and offer the seasoned adventurer practically zero cranial challenge, but despite this, Malcontent's first proper game release has proved to be a great deal of fun.

The core gameplay is real base-level stuff; your nameless warrior must fight his (or her) way through the depths of a critter-filled dungeon to retrieve a magical chalice offering immortality. There are keys to collect (which are rather unsurprisingly used to open locked doors), treasure chests to loot (which also replenish the player's health) and countless re-spawning enemies to slay or avoid in each of the game's many single-screen battle arenas. The game map has been thoughtfully designed so as to not require the player to backtrack excessively and every side route leads to either bonus treasure or the necessary keys to proceed. However, the map design is just about the only sensible feature the game has - the rest of it is joyfully ridiculous.

Super Smash Land (PC)

I never owned a Game Boy. I seem to remember playing on them a lot, but can't really remember whose they were. So thanks, Super Smash Land. Thanks a lot for reminding me of my terminal uncoolness as a youth!

Super Smash Land is a demake of the Super Smash Bros. series of fighting games, taking the crux of the series' gameplay and giving it a Nintendo Game Boy make-under. The key elements of the series are still there; the multiple characters, the frenetic multiplayer modes, Kirby being awesome, unlockable content and Kirby being awesome some more, but all viewed through a filter of nostalgic Nintendovision and played with a simple Game Boyish 'A, B, Start, Select, up, down, left, right' control set.

Cursed Loot (XBLIG)

RGCD readers who are familiar with the XBOX indie scene will realise that a purchase can be a bit of a gamble. Polished gems sit innocuously beside poisonous 'games' that do naught but make the controller vibrate. (Ahem). If only we could up our real life luck' stats by equipping an enchanted ring, perhaps we'd stumble across games like Cursed Loot more often.

A polished and deliberately old-school roguelike, Cursed Loot has the player choosing between 5 classes of character and sending them off into a randomly generated dungeon 50 levels deep. Play is quick and vicious, with automatic attacking as you move. The speed of the game can mean the play can feel slightly more like Gauntlet than Rogue in places, especially when coupled with the NES-era style graphics.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Blok Copy Cartridge Available! (C64)

TMR and I debated for some time on whether or not to wait until after our ongoing competition before releasing Blok Copy on cartridge. However, as we both have a lot on over the coming months (what with the Replay Expo 2011 coming up), we decided to just go for it and add the cartridge to the shop page. It'll probably be a little while before the official disk release from Cosine comes out, but I'm sure that a pirate will get a cracked version out in the next few days ;)

Blok Copy began as a game written in order to learn the Atari 2600 hardware, where it utilised vertical splits to achieve seven independently coloured playfield objects. Although the Atari 2600 version is near enough complete, to date it remains unreleased on T.M.R's workstation. However, although the game is yet to make it's debut appearance on Atari hardware, Blok Copy has been released on three Commodore variations; namely the PET, C64DTV and of course the C64 (this cartridge).

Thursday 22 September 2011

C64anabalt (Preview) (C64)

When Paulko64 originally signed up for our cartridge development competition, he was very secretive about his project, stating only that similar to his conversion of VVVVVV, the new game would be a demake of a popular indie title coded with full permission from the original developer. Well, I did a double-take when this early preview arrived in my inbox yesterday, and when I loaded it up I was quite frankly stunned; C64anabalt, despite being unfinished and running on modest 8-Bit hardware, is already amazingly close to the 2009 indie-classic in aesthetics, gameplay and addictiveness. It's a really impressive achievement.

I can't really believe that anyone could have missed out on the original flash/iOS version of Canabalt (the game practically started a sub-genre of its own), but if you are one of the unlucky few not to have played it, please pop over to the game's site ( and come back a few hours later after you've properly experienced this example of perfectly executed and seriously addictive single-button game design. (In fact, I think I'll join you - I've always been a sucker for this game).

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Edge Grinder - Official Release (C64/CPC)

There's been a couple of cracked versions of Edge Grinder doing the rounds for a while, but it seems that Cosine have finally completed the disk version of their increasingly popular 16KB cartridge shmup. Head on over to the Format War collabortition page or Cosine's site to grab your copy, complete with a groovy new title screen by STE'86 and loading music by Sean/Odie. At the bargain price of free you'd be a fool to miss out on the action.

But what's with this second screenshot? Well, CPC owners may be interested to note that there's an Edge Grinder conversion making waves in the Amstrad scene (by none other than Axelay of Star Sabre, Dead On Time and Sub Hunter fame). Which of the two is better? Well, that's a matter to discuss over on the Format War forums - and while you're there you might want to check out the progress on the GBA, SNES, Megadrive/Genesis, Atari 800, Atari 7800 and PC Engine versions of the game!

Download the C64 version here (from the Cosine website).
Run it using VICE (freeware).

Download the CPC version here (from the Format War collabortition page).
Run it using WinAPE (freeware).

Friday 16 September 2011

Forget Me Not (PC/Mac)

Some days I am very glad to own a dumb phone. Whenever people around me get panicky or irate about iPhone hacking, Android crashes or other smartphone voodoo I am very much the proud owner of an old Nokia so far behind the cutting edge that the average mugger would probably return it to me out of sympathy were I to be robbed in a dark alley. Another thing that makes me pleased to have a phone that can barely manage a 3D version of the quintessential late 90s to early Noughties timewaster 'Snake' is the quality and quantity of polished, exciting smartphone games.
Put simply, if I had a decent phone I would spend much of my commute to my day job flinging angry birds at pigs or whatever, probably missing my stop and ending up in another city entirely on a painfully regular basis (and getting the sack with extreme prejudice). Luckily the much-lauded iPhone/iPad game Forget-Me-Not has been ported over to the PC and the Mac, which means that now I can be chronically distracted at home and only ruin my relationship and not my employment prospects. Hooray!

Edge Grinder / Not Even Human Cartridges Back in Stock!

Just a quick post to announce that Edge Grinder and Not Even Human are both available to buy on cartridge again from our shop. I've got 20 copies of Edge Grinder and 10 of NEH packed and ready to go - but don't panic - if they sell out I'll hopefully have some more ready in a fortnight.

On a related tip, the planned cartridge release of Cosine's Blok Copy has been pushed back a couple of weeks. This is simply because I'm currently looking into new packaging for future cartridges as the ones I use at the moment take over 15 minutes each to make (which is longer than it takes for the cartridges themselves). Also, hardware costs have increased slightly, but the good news is that the new boxes will be cheaper so the sale price will remain the same. I'll post up further details and photos regarding this soon.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Fairy Well Demo Released (C64)

Mix256 from Wide Pixel Games has decided to release a one level, one character, timed demo of his 16KB C64 Cartridge Development Competition entry, Fairy Well.

As I've already typed a detailed preview (check it here), I'll just give you the demo link and let you try it for yourselves. Mix256 is eager for public feedback, so if you find any bugs or have some suggestions for improvement please post them below.

Download the demo here (from the RGCD server).
Download the Genesis Project trained version here (from the Commodore Scene Database).
Run it using VICE (freeware).

Monday 12 September 2011

Astro Tripper (PC)

PomPom Games have just secured a deal to distribute their recent games via Steam, and the first title to drop will be an enhanced update to their 2001 award-winning release Space Tripper, now under the name Astro Tripper. I actually picked up the beta version of the game via PomPom's website a couple of years back (where it is still being sold for just shy of a tenner), and it's one of my all-time favourite PC shooters. Hopefully this Steam release will expose this indie to the wider audience it deserves.

Retro News Update

Time for another round-up of news from the retro scene! With the results (and downloads) from the 2011 ABBUC Software Contest due any day now, the focus today is on the Atari 8-Bit scene, but there's also a couple of 2600/VCS games, one for the VIC20 and even a Videopac/Odyssey title thrown in this update for good measure. As always, full reviews will follow soon.

Mighty Jill Off Preview (Atari XE/XL)

Probably worthy of a news update all by itself, we at RGCD expect Morons Of H.A.R. to win this year's ABBUC Software Contest with their 8-Bit remake of Auntie Pixelante's acclaimed BDSM-themed hardcore platformer. Loosely based on Mighty Bomb Jack (the home computer sequel to the coin-op classic), Mighty Jill Off is a extreme test of old-school jump 'n' run skill and it'll be interesting to see if the difficulty of the Mac and PC version is matched on the Atari. Check the video and let us know what you think!

Sunday 11 September 2011

Developer Interview: Mojon Twins

(Further to RGCD's recent review of the recent ZX Spectrum release Fundamentally Loathsome, Nathan of the Mojon Twins development team kindly took the time to answer some of our burning questions.)

Would you please take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who may not be familiar with your name.

We are The Mojon Twins, a small group of individuals who just wanted to code Spectrum and CPC games when we were little kids. Now we are doing just that, just for fun.

C64 16KB Cartridge Game Development Competition - Status Update #4

Blimey, I'm being sent updates on competition entries on a daily basis at the moment! Here's the latest hype from our on-going 16KB cart development challenge - less than three months to go!

Competition Entry #16: Fortress Of Narzod
Developer: TRSI
Status: Complete & Submitted!

First up, I'm happy to announce that I've just received the final cartridge build of TRSI's Fortress Of Narzod; the second finished competition entry and first of two games proposed by TRSI. A perfect conversion of the Vectrex classic, Fortress of Narzod utilises the border areas of the screen to maximise the play area and the excellent soundtrack my Linus really takes this production to the next level. The game requires no keyboard input (even the high score table is controlled via the joystick) so it will work on the C64GS, but unfortunately the full-screen action comes at a cost of not running on NTSC machines. Overall, an awesome entry.