Monday 30 May 2011

Running GEOS on the Ultimate 1541-II (C64)

GEOS on the C64 was something I'd been meaning to look into using ever since I received my Ultimate 1541-II last year, so with my main desktop PC still out of action I decided to finally give it a go.

GEOS (Graphic Environment Operating System) was released back in the late 1980's for the Commodore 64 and 128 machines and provided it's users with a rather impressive GUI similar in appearance to early Mac OS. Capable of running on a 64KB, 1Mhz 8-Bit machine and complete with a comprehensive suite of applications (including an art package, word processor, spreadsheet and even a desktop publisher) GEOS is a technical marvel and further testiment to the old adage "if there's one thing a C64 can't do, it's nothing".

Friday 27 May 2011

C64 Cart Compo Update - Six Entrants!

Today I received the sixth registration form for the C64 cartridge game development competition, so we now have reached the minimum limit for the competition to go ahead!  Thanks to everyone who has contacted me over the past couple of weeks - I will compile some additional information to mail to you ASAP.

In other news, review posts will be a little slow over the few days as I have to catch up with some (real-life) work.  I'll continue posting some of the old RGCD stuff (I need to have it all online eventually anyway), and the occasional write-up if something noteworthy arrives on my desk.

Yoomp! (Atari XE/XL)

[Originally reviewed by J. Monkman in RGCD Issue #04, December 2007]

"Don't tell any Atari 8-bit users it's Trailblazer in a tube 'cos they'll go mental!" was the message relayed to me by T.M.R as he gave me a heads-up about the release of Yoomp!, but to be fair - and I'm a die-hard Atarian myself - that's pretty much a spot-on description of this new title from Poland. To be precise (and as confirmed by the authors of the game) Yoomp! is actually a cylindrical reinterpretation of another 8-Bit Atari game called 'Jump' by D. Johannsen, originally released back in 1986 - coincidentally the same year as the aforementioned Trailblazer. Bouncing a ball along a path full of obstacles was quite clearly all the rage back in the 1980's, and it's a theme that the Yoomp! team have done a fantastic job of updating in their 2007 ABBUC SW Compo-winning smash.

Crownland (Atari XE/XL)

[Originally reviewed by J. Monkman in RGCD Issue #04, December 2007]

It doesn't seem that long ago that I was left in a state of awe after playing La Resistance's preview version of Crownland (as featured back in the debut issue of RGCD). I remember having doubts as to whether or not a full version would ever be forthcoming (a Google search will reveal that information on the project is scarce and at the time of writing it's not even mentioned on the developer's web site), but here we have it - a copy of the final(?) build of the game as entered in the 2007 ABBUC SW Competition.

Transcendence (PC)

[Originally reviewed by J. Monkman in RGCD Issue #04, December 2007]

David Braben's Frontier: Elite 2 was the first computer game to really blow my mind. A fan of the original Elite, my first impressions on playing the sequel were of pure wonder and amazement; somehow David had seemingly squeezed our entire galaxy onto a single 880KB Amiga floppy disk. Unlike the original, the basic physics were realistic (so much so that they actually deviated from the players enjoyment - but more on that in a bit), and as far as I'm aware it remains the only space-sim in which you can fly throughout an entire solar system, performing orbital slingshots and landing manually on planet surfaces wherever you want all in real-time and without being interrupted by any loading screens.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

2011 C64 16KB Cartridge Competition - First Prizes Announced

Just a quick heads up to let you know that the prizes for this competition have started coming in.  Distribution amongst the winners will not be decided until nearer the date, but so far the kitty contains:
  • Three assembled EasyFlash cartridges (pre-flashed with Maniac Mansion & Zak McKracken),
  • Three cartridge port expanders (giving you multiple cartridge slots),
  • A voucher to be used at the Protovision shop (20 Euros),
  • A cash donation (undisclosed value at this stage).
More prize news to follow soon.  If you are thinking of entering please send us a message via the contact page.

Monday 23 May 2011

Edge Grinder (WIP) (C64)

Work continues on our forthcoming C64 cartridge release at a breakneck pace, with all of Smila's new graphics complete and in the game, the level design finished and even the box art ready for the final release!  All that remains is the arduous task of implementing the enemy wave patterns and then somehow shoehorning the whole lot into 16KB.

Sheepoid Preview (C64)

Back in March this year Richard Bayliss of The New Dimension announced on his blog that he had almost finished work on Sheepoid, his updated interpretation of Jeff Minter's classic Lazer Zone, and he has recently uploaded a playable four-level preview to his site (with the final version to be published by Psytronik soon).

For those of you unfamiliar with the original, Lazer Zone is a one or two player game where you control two separate lazer cannons simultaneously with fixed movement on the X or Y axis. The goal is simple; keep the variety of advancing nasties at bay by blasting them in the crossfire. Fail to stop them before they reach the sides of the screen and they'll happily munch on your defenceless cannon.

Gunroad (PC)

If the idea of blasting your way through an battalion of heavy-chested, latex-suited and armed-to-the-teeth anime girls appeals to you, then Gunroad might well be the game you've been looking for.  For the rest of the more well-adjusted members of the global populace, HamCorossam's unorthodox yet well-produced tribute to the gallery/rail coin-op shooters of old will still make a welcome change from the dozens of platformers and arena shooters that continue to flood the already over-saturated indie gaming scene.

Saturday 21 May 2011

Alter Ego (ZX Spectrum)

Alter Ego is new ZX Spectrum game based on 8-Bit Story, an upcoming perspective-twisting PC title by the same developer.  An addictive and taxing puzzle-platformer hybrid, RetroSoul's latest offering puts most other modern ZX releases to shame despite the fact that it's only RetroSouls second release on the machine.
It may look like your average 8-Bit collect 'em up platformer, but the difference here is that as well as the main character you also control a phantom on the opposite side of the screen and pressing the fire button uses one of your limited 'swaps' to exchange your position with the little ghost.  The goal is simple, collect all the pixels on each level whilst avoiding the marauding skulls, but the addition of this clever swap mechanic transforms the game into a genuinely fresh experience.

Chopper Drop (ZX Spectrum)

When I saw the post about Paul Jenkinon's latest release on the Oldschool Gaming news site my initial assumption was that it would be a Choplifer clone for the ZX, one of my favourite games and a title that missed out on an official conversion back in the 1980's. However, Chopper Lift isn't quite the game I was hoping it would be; instead of rescuing hostages from a war-torn battlescape and blasting enemy tanks, its a rather more pedestrian collect 'em up in which you simply have to transport a number of crates on to the back of a lorry before the timer runs out, simultaneously avoiding collisions with World of Spectrum blimps and angry birds (no, not that type).

Rocky Memphis & The Temple Of Ophuxoff (PC/Mac)

A pet hate of mine is the fact that many new indie games are falsely branded as being 'retro'.  Nine times out of ten the only reason they are labelled as such is because they have badly drawn low-resolution graphics, fake chip music and gameplay not even worthy of an Atari 2600 title - it is almost becoming a derogatory term in the scene.  So let me set the record straight by presenting to you Ovine's awesome Rocky Memphis - a true-school retro game that acts as a worthy tribute to the classics of old.

Annihilation (PC)

Wow, we're really digging out some oldies here.  Another game recently recommended to me by Pixel Prospector, this one was a bit of a surprise.  Coded by Andy Noble and released through the Retrospec label back in 2006, Annihilation is a shameless (yet rather good) Geometry Wars clone.  Well, perhaps bootleg would be a more appropriate description, but more on that in a bit.

Pulse Blade (PC)

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

Space, the final frontier. A place for new hope, new dreams and... Nah, it's a place for arming yourself to the teeth and heading on out to kick some alien butt! And Pulse Blade boldly goes to continue the long, brave and somewhat suicidal tradition of launching a single fighter to do battle against the alien hoards from the Tixilyx system or wherever... Did anyone ever read the manuals on these things or care who was getting splattered this time?

Wednesday 18 May 2011

C64 16KB Cartridge Game Development Competition!

Well, those six months flew by!  The first RGCD C64 16KB cartridge game development competition concluded on the 30th of November at midnight with 11 new games for the C64.

Invaders: Corruption (PC/Mac)

Spinning around on your axis and shooting at stuff that appears in the corners of the screen and tries to crash into you is not a new concept; it's the gaming equivalent of the discovery that throwing pointy sticks at mammoths makes them into food.

Arena shooters are hardly a new deal, and Invaders: Corruption isn't even a new release (it appeared in 2010), but a game this good deserves an RGCD mention no matter how long it has been on the market.

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Ranger (PC)

When I saw the in-development video of Foppygames' Ranger last year on Pixel Prospector’s indev site I was immediately intrigued; it was the first time I'd seen a line-of-sight system used in an eight-way arcade shmup. Normally a gameplay mechanic reserved for turn-based strategy games, the video showed the game's protagonist leaping in and out of cover, strafing bad guys with flak and hurling grenades all over the battle zone. With its clean 2.5D visuals, destructible environment, wide variety of enemies, arsenal of heavy weaponry and fast-paced real-time combat Ranger looked as though it was going to be one of the highlights of 2011.

Monday 16 May 2011

Website Status

I haven't given an update of what's been happening behind the scenes here at RGCD for a while, so I thought I'd make a quick post to keep you informed.

First of all, the website data migration is now complete - we are just waiting for the old domain to be remapped here and then the site address will be again. So far (ignoring the Blogger service failure last week) we're all quite happy with the way that the site has turned out, but if you have any suggestions on how to improve things to make it easier to use then please let us know.

Quod Init Exit (C64)

Now here's a thing, Quod Init Exit is a C64 game that really doesn't look like a C64 game. Despite the pastel palette, PC/Amiga developer Saimo has succeeded in making the C64 look a lot more like its 16-Bit cousin through the clever use of the machine's high resolution mode. Roughly translated from Latin as "what goes in, must come out" and starring a pig with a hefty appetite for fast food, Quod Init Exit is an impressive platform debut and one of our favourite C64 releases of 2010.

Riesling (PC)

Fruit. One of the staples of a healthy diet, and surprisingly also one of the main constituents of Contralogic's recently released arcade shooter.

Imagine the Williams' classic Defender, but without the humans to protect. Now contemplate that instead of dying in a glorious shower of exploding pixels, every time an enemy is killed they instead send pieces of yummy score-awarding fruit flying everywhere instead. That in a nutshell is Riesling.

8Bit Killer (PC)

[Originally reviewed by C. Allcock in RGCD Issue #05, March 2009]

I have a rather poor record with oldschool FPS games. I played Wolfenstein 3D (rather later than when it first came out, I might add) and never finished it. I also played Corridor 7: Alien Invasion and never finished that, either. So you might well expect that I'm going to write a whole load of random words about 8Bit Killer without actually having played it to the end - or even at all!

But no! To improve upon my abysmal performance in this field to date, I can report that I actually finished it! *does a happy dance* Hey, stop looking at me like that. I'm easily amused, okay?

Manical Drop (Atari ST/STE/Falcon)

[Originally reviewed by J. Monkman in RGCD Issue #05, March 2009]

Released with practically no fan-fare and winning the Game Development competition at Outline 2008, DMA-SC's Manical Drop was a real surprise and became an instant hit in the 16-Bit Atari homebrew scene. Already an established Atari musician, DMA-SC really turned heads under his ATIPYK Developments moniker by producing an superb port of Data East's classic Magical Drop without any external assistance - the code, graphics and (predictably excellent) music were all created by a one man team - and as a debut release it's really remarkable.

Destructivator (PC)

[Originally reviewed by C. Allcock in RGCD Issue #05, March 2009]
There's something I feel the need to get off my chest before starting this review. I took one look at this game's title and, after reading the plot, started grinning to myself as a Borg-ified version of Mr. Motivator sprang into my mind's eye (for anyone lucky enough not to know, Mr. Motivator is a fitness instructor with a fondness for flourescent clothing who became famous on UK breakfast TV in the early 90s). Now I can only imagine the hero as a brightly-dressed health fanatic who shouts "Get off yo fat ass!" at enemies before perforating them with his blaster. This isn't helped by the fact that you control a character who is a rather charming shade of radioactive green. But... erm, yes, let's move swiftly onto the game itself, shall we?

Noitu Love 2: Devolution (PC)

[Originally reviewed by M. Bevan in RGCD Issue #05, March 2009]

Joakim Sandberg is a man who clearly loves designing bosses. His professional CV includes an animation credit for Wayforward Technologies' well-received Contra 4, while his most recent indie game shares the same spiritual bloodline as Treasure favourites like Gunstar Heroes, Alien Soldier and Silhouette Mirage. Noitu 2 is the sequel to his previous freeware game Noitu Love, which was a pleasant NES-like Megaman style platformer, but the advancement between the two games is like comparing the leaning tower of Pisa to the Empire State building. For a game designed and put together by one guy, it's simply epic.

Sunday 15 May 2011

Cray-5 (ZX Spectrum)

I really, really wanted to fall in love with Cray-5. It's got all the necessary ingredients to make a great game and ticks all my personal must-have boxes. Top quality, modern pixel art and audio - check. Exploratory shoot 'em up with a large game map - check. Sci-Fi setting with a heavily clichéd background story - check. Robots to blow up, jet-pac's (sic) and an insane computer to shut down - check, check, check. All of which makes it so much more of a shame that the game design is left firmly set back in 1987.

Color Lines (Amstrad CPC)

Looking at the title screen and the name alone, Color Lines could easily be mistaken for yet another Tron light cycles game - at least that was my initial assumption when I saw the release entry on  However, don't be fooled; Color Lines is in fact a puzzler based on a 'Lines', a game designed by Oleg Demin.  Featuring two distinctly different play modes, tons of fantastic graphics from a variety of CPC scene artists and more music than you'd find on the average chipdisk, GPA's latest offering may well be another entry in an already overcrowded genre but the outstanding execution and design is enough to make it worthy of your attention.

Qwak (PC)

[Originally reviewed by C. Allcock in RGCD Issue #05, March 2009]

A lot of commercial games claim to have a long history; there are plenty that have seen sequels and spinoffs across many different platforms. Few of them have dared to stay exactly the same throughout their lifetime. Usually there's a feature added, or a part of the gameplay changed... sometimes just minor tweaks, and other times, great sweeping changes. In the big-business world of multi-million dollar game franchises, the old adage "if it ain't broke..." got thrown out of the window (and dare I say kicked into the gutter) a very long time ago.

Rom Check Fail! (PC)

[Originally reviewed by Dudley in RGCD Issue #05, March 2009]

Rom Check Fail! is not one game. Rom Check Fail! is over one thousand different games, but you can't ever choose which one you play. Oh, and each game lasts about 5 seconds. Also, a good half of them make no sense, are either virtually to completely impossible or absurdly easy. Sounds dreadful doesn't it? Yes, yes it does but you're going to love every single second of it.

Saturday 14 May 2011

Dead On Time (Amstrad CPC)

There is no arguing that (along with the Atari 400/800 series) during its short commercial life the Amstrad CPC was the underdog of the 8-Bit computers. It might have had an excellent and vibrant palette and some interesting screen modes, but the 3rd party game support was very poor and many of the official arcade conversions were (quite frankly) shit in comparison to the C64 - and in some cases even worse than on it's sister machine, the humble ZX Spectrum.

SplATTR (ZX Spectrum)

[Originally reviewed by Uglifruit in RGCD Issue #05, March 2009]

As I am sure all RGCD readers are aware that the ZX Spectrum - despite it's name - did not handle colour very well. Only two colours were allowed in each 8x8 pixel square, causing many games to suffer from the famous 'colour clash' or be burdened with dull two colour palettes. Either of these situations were the source of much ridicule from C64 owners, and care needed to be taken when showcasing a game to someone from 'the other side' for fear of subsequent playground taunts.

Rock Boshers (PC)

[Originally reviewed by Uglifruit in RGCD Issue #05, March 2009]

As some of you may be aware, the twisted minds at TIGSource regularly organise bizarrely-themed independent game-development competitions, and Rock Boshers was one of the stand-out (yet unfinished) entries in their recent 'demake' compo. For those of you unfamiliar to the strange (and recently coined) phenomenon, de-making involves taking a recent game and trying to remake it as if it was created for an earlier system; scooping out the still-beating heart of a current-gen release and surgically implanting it within the cadaver of an 8 or 16-Bit machine, stripping the visuals, audio and game-play right back down to the basics in the process. The results of the competition were impressive in concept, with conversions of Guitar Hero for the NES, REZ for the Amiga/Atari ST, Wipeout for the Vectrex - you get the idea. Dugan chose FPS underdog Red Faction as his inspiration for a Spectrum de-make; a 2001 Mars-based sci-fi game with the unique selling point of featuring 'GeoMod Technology' (basically a fancy way of saying that you could blow up certain walls in a semi-realistic manner).

Friday 13 May 2011

Coins (C64)

News hot off the press...  My C64 comrades from Avatar (Iceout, Fredrik and Flower) uploaded their collaborative game project Coins to the Commodore Scene Database earlier today - and as I've done nothing productive for the group to date I figured that I owed it to them at least give their latest release a plug on the RGCD blog! ;)

Not Even Human - Inhumane Edition Cartridge Coming Soon? (C64)

Originally due for release back in March 2009, the promised and long-awaited cartridge release of Not Even Human could finally be hitting this site for pre-orders in the next few weeks.

Wind & Water Puzzle Battles (DC/GP2X/PC)

Yuan Works' Wind & Water: Puzzle Battles has been out for a while now, but I for one can not give this game enough love.  I originally purchased my copy in Dreamcast format back in 2008 via Red Spot Games, and over the past couple of years it has been one of the most played titles that I own for the console.  With it's combination of beautiful presentation, well executed design and original game concept (a rarity these days in the puzzle genre), W&W:PB is a genuinely special game that still has me hooked.

When the news broke earlier this year that the game was being released for PC as freeware, I was initially taken aback; how could Yuan Works possibly give this AAA quality title away for nothing?  But that is exactly what they've done - and you, the games playing public, owe it to yourself to download a copy of this perfect independent release at the earliest opportunity.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Self Destruct (PC)

[Originally reviewed by J. Monkman in RGCD Issue #05, March 2009]

Although I have a reputation for getting overly excited at the release of just about any arcade-style blaster that features retro pixel art and authentic chip music, Terry Cavanagh's Self Destruct really is a genuinely exceptional shoot 'em up, and (in my opinion) one of the stand-out indie titles of 2008. Originally developed for the TIGSource Procedural Generation competition (in which it achieved a respectable 3rd place out of an astonishing 60 entries), Self Destruct differs from the majority of it's peers within the shooter genre in that it confronts the player with a unique challenge in every game; each of the 250 attack waves are selected at random, resulting in a relatively unique game that requires seriously hardcore gaming skills to conquer.

Droid Assault (PC/Mac/Linux)

[Originally reviewed by J. Monkman in RGCD Issue #05, March 2009]

First there was a game called Paradroid, a classic C64 release coded by Andrew Braybrook back in the mid 80's that successfully combined elements of strategy and logic into a top-down perspective run-n-gun maze shooter. Later came the vastly improved 16-Bit Paradroid 90, with upgraded presentation, greater depth and an unsurpassed challenge for the player with its wider array of enemy units and ships to recapture. And now PuppyGames have stepped forward to provide us with an unofficial evolution of the robots running amok in a 2D maze concept; it may not carry the Paradroid name, but there really is no denying the fact that Droid Assault is clearly and directly inspired by Graftgold's masterpiece.

3D Starstrike (PC)

[Originally reviewed by J. Monkman in RGCD Issue #05, March 2009]

Before George Lucas ruined the series with cartoony CGI effects, tedious political sub-plots and the universally despised Jar-Jar Binks, Star Wars was the ultimate Sci-Fi franchise. The original three films, toys and video games inspired and enthralled a whole generation, but for many the greatest movie tie-in to roll off the Lucasfilm production line was the achingly-cool cockpit-model Star Wars arcade cabinet from Atari.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Gun Lord (Dreamcast/NeoGeo)

Just a quick news post (yes, some actual news!) - whilst wasting time on the internet this evening I stumbled across these stunning new images from NG:DEV's forthcoming Dreamcast and NeoGeo release Gun Lord.  A webpage announcing the game was first put online a few months ago, with a logo image that hinted that NG:DEV's next release wouldn't be (yet) another frantic arcade shmup - and with these teasing screen shots we now have confirmation.

Super Star Shooter Advance (GBA)

Recently playing High Level Challenge's indie-hit Blade Buster didn't only remind me of the classic Hudson Soft Star Soldier franchise, but also of a more recent 2003 homebrew offering, namely Super Star Shooter Advance from Magic Touch/The Dotmap Brothers.
Based on the X68000 original, this relatively unknown GBA conversion hasn't lost any of it's charm or playability over the years.  The screen obviously feels a little cramped in comparison to the X68K version, but if (like me) you still have a GBA or DS and a flashable cartridge available then there's still a lot of fun to be had with this little game.

Blade Buster (NES)

Homebrew games are somewhat of a rarity on the Nintendo Entertainment System (or Famicom, depending where you are reading this), so it's understandable that High Level Challenge's awesome Blade Buster caused quite a stir in the indie gaming and retro scenes when it was released earlier this year.  Hailed by many as 'the new Recca', fans of Nintendo's popular 8-Bit were bowled over by the amazing production values - and with it's winning combination of insane speed and a ludicrous number of sprites on screen at once, I had to remind myself over and over that I was playing a NES game whilst writing this review.

Owing a lot of it's inspiration to Hudson Soft's Star Soldier series (in particular the Japanese "Hudson All-Japan Caravan Festival" timed-competition editions), Blade Buster is a score attack shmup that comes with two game modes; two and five minutes, each ending a epic boss battle.  This short game-time may initially sound off-putting to classic shooter fans, but believe me, there are hours of fun to be had with this deceptively little game as you attempt to beat your high score over and over again.

Website Status

Progress of the data migration from continues, but obviously the downside of this background work is that I'm unable to type many new posts until it is complete.  However, to compensate I've started going through the previous issues of the RGCD discmag and adding reviews here of under-hyped games that I feel could do with a little more exposure.

In other news, I've managed to contact most of the old RGCD team, and about 50% of them are up for joining this new blog as writers (special thanks go to Ruari for his recent Golden Axe: Myth review).  This will mean that in the next week or so posts here should really pick up in quantity (and quality, fingers crossed).

There is a lot more going on behind the scenes, but for now I hope you enjoy reading some of our older reviews and checking out some classic retro homebrew and indie games.

Lead (Atari 2600)

[Originally reviewed by R. O'Toole in RGCD Issue #05, March 2009]

The phrase "fast and furious" has become a cliché and is bandied around far too much to have real meaning any more, but in the case of Lead the cliché rings true on more than one level. Weighing in at a paltry 8 kilobytes (16 for the final cartridge version), Simone Serra's latest release for the Atari 2600 is impressively fast, and often makes for furious gameplay, but the great speed means that Lead can be more than a little infuriating to the novice player.

Even set on "normal" speed you can literally lose the game by blinking, and although "fast" speed is mercifully slower than I expected Lead still tests your reflexes to destruction. An earlier development version of the game had a "zzap" speed setting, which must have been terrifying. But don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad game, and you're not reading a hatchet-job review slamming a game just for being difficult. Quite the contrary, since Lead is one of the most impressive games I've seen this year and is ridiculously inventive and varied in spite of its tiny, tiny size.

Monday 9 May 2011

World Reborn (GBA)

[Originally reviewed by T.M.R in RGCD Issue #05, March 2009]

In the not so distant future, mankind has been reduced to barbarism and most of society has collapsed whilst the world is turned into a free for all battle. In order to restore order, the powers that be create the Judge4101, a powerful judicial computer that essentially takes control and drags everybody back on track, kicking and screaming as they go. All goes well for a year until without warning the Judge4101 stops talking... and that isn't such a bad thing because, when it starts again, it declares mankind to be in contempt of court and promptly dispatches an army of "biotech" weapons in order to carry out the sentence! Enter our heroes to be, Perrin and Thiel are both children of the Judge4101's regime but brave and, when tooled up with the mobile base they discover near their village and the battle craft within, something for it's honour to worry about.

Sub Hunter (C64)

[Originally reviewed by C. Allcock in RGCD Issue #05, March 2009]

After agreeing to take on the last-minute challenge of reviewing Sub Hunter, I quickly realised that I was in for a bit of a treat. Late in 2008, Richard Bayliss and Frank Gasking together finished a rather epic 4-year project that's been commercially released on Commodore 64 disk format by Psytronik - the same company that sells updated, physical copies of gems like Creatures, Mayhem in Monsterland and Joe Gunn to name but a few. So, as a new member to this exclusive club of new-school Commie releases, Sub Hunter has its work cut out to 'keep up with the Joneses'...

Phaeton (ZX Spectrum)

Released back in 2010 for the 48KB ZX Spectrum, Rafal Miazga's Phaeton is a unique arcade-puzzle/logic affair.  Again, as with Genesis: Dawn Of A New Day, it was the screenshots on the World of Spectrum news portal that grabbed my attention, and I immediately (and mistakedly) assumed that Phaeton would be a exploratory shoot 'em up similar to the popular 80's classic Cybernoid.  After all, the loading screen and in-game shots featured a flying saucer on the screen with a couple of satellite upgrades orbiting it, and even the mythical name sounds like it is going to be a blast-fest.  Unfortunately my assumption was wrong, but thankfully in this case there was a silver-lining on my cloud of dissapointment.

Phaeton is in fact a logical puzzle game requiring arcade relexes and skill to beat.  You guide your saucer around each flick-screen maze on a dangerous mission to retrieve highly radioactive isotopes from a terrorist organisation.  Orbiting your vunerable ship are two shielding satellites that take damage upon touching the landscape or enemy drones, so to navigate around the maze you have to alternate the direction of their orbit (by pressing fire) enabling you to navigate past obstcles and through tight gaps.  The trick is to keep both satelittes from colliding with anything while still managing to collect and actvate items with your saucer craft - and even though the game plays at a sedate pace, working out how to navigate past some of the obstcales you encounter is quite frankly as hard as nails.

Sunday 8 May 2011

ThrustBurst (PC)

[Originally reviewed by J. Monkman in RGCD Issue #05, March 2009]
Picking a featured game for our comeback issue after such a long break was never going to be easy. With several superb releases to choose from, I was really struggling to select a worthy game to highlight - and then out of the blue I received a message from acclaimed pixel-pusher Ptoing announcing the launch of ThrustBurst; the debut PC title from new independent development group Umlautgames.

Golden Axe: Myth (PC)

“Golden” and “Axe”. Two words, spoken in the correct order, that are guaranteed to invoke flashbacks to a time where musclebound barbarians rode miniature dragons while stout dwarves knocked the hell out of things with their axes, and throwing a bottle of Blue Curaçao into the air invoked powerful magic.

“Prequel”. A word guaranteed to make the average film buff go all hand-wringy.
Italian modder Baritonmarchetto has released a freeware prequel to Golden Axe. It’s called Golden Axe: Myth. And it’s pretty good.  Barbarian handshakes all round!

Saturday 7 May 2011

RGCD Website Status

Regarding the inclusion of the 'Other Projects' tab on the navbar above, over the weekend I'll be moving over details on some of our projects from the old RGCD site. Apologies if you are following us or subscribe and get spammed by a load of stuff that may be not be relevant or of interest to you, but unfortunately it is a necessity. I really want to progress with the migration and there seems to be no way of adding posts without them also being mailed out to subscribers (even historical posts are sent out as updates, as you may have seen when I moved the Robotz DX and r0x pages).

I'm continuing to post news as and when I can, but don't be alarmed if a few older items are blogged here in the coming days and weeks; as well as moving the site over I am probably going to post up some of the more suitable reviews and articles from previous RGCD issues (and there are well over 100 of them to choose from).

In other news, RGCD collaborator iLkke has kindly agreed to pixel a new logo for the blog. Although I'm a massive fan of ptoing (and his previous RGCD logo) he's just too busy these days to help and the current logo isn't an ideal size to be used on a blogger site.

There are a few other bits and pieces I could mention about or ongoing r0x zer0 project, but Tomchi has sworn me to secrecy... ;)

Frogatto & Friends (PC/Mac/Linux)

Old news really (although it is still in constant development the game has been publicly available since last year), but Frogatto is such a special game that I think that it's more than worthy of mention again.  Released as open source, Lost Pixels' Frogatto & Friends is an absolutely stunning 2D story-driven platform adventure - in fact the production quality surpasses any indie release that I've played in the past couple of years (barring game-du-jour Super Meat Boy of course).

Featuring all the usual platforming fare you'd expect in a modern game (including wall jumping, multiple moves and collectable upgrades), the attacks in Frogatto are particularly noteworthy.  Similar to controlling Yoshi in the classic Super Mario World, you attack the various in-game critters by grabbing them with your (upgradable) sticky tongue and holding them in your mouth to be either spat out at another enemy as a projectile weapon or simply regurgitated onto their backs so you can jump onto their soft undersides.  It is all simple, very retro and unlike Super Meat Boy, completely wholesome and family-friendly.

Thursday 5 May 2011

Edge Grinder (WIP) (C64)

Edge Grinder is a new RGCD endorsed game coded by Cosine's TMR and soon to feature all new graphics courtesy of Trevor 'Smila' Storey.  Planned for release through TMR's Backward Engineering group, RGCD will be organising a very limited run of real C64 cartridges (as long as the game can be squeezed within 16KB).

Adventures In Time (C16/Plus4)

Another title previously missed by RGCD (due to the inactive state of the magazine), Assassins' 2010 release Adventures In Time is a game that I've been eager to write about since first playing it last year.  Coded for the relatively obscure Commodore Plus4 (and expanded C16), Adventures in Time is 8-Bit retro platforming action at it's very best.

For those of you unfamilar with the machine, the Commodore Plus4 lacks the necessary sprite hardware and sound capabilites to allow for the same quality of games and demos that the C64 became famous for - underwhelming in just about every aspect, the Plus4 did not fare well in the competitive home computer market and was discontinued one year after it's initial release.  However, as with most 8-Bit platforms, today there is a thriving homebrew scene - and without a doubt, when it comes to high-quality releases the Hungary-based Assassins are the top of their class.

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Hack Slash Loot (Beta) (PC/Mac/Linux)

The problem with most roguelikes is that they generally look a bit drab.  Ascii characters may have been all the rage back in the eighties, but there's only so much emotional attachment you can apply to an @ symbol and regardless of the genre's apparent depth, I find many of the inherent quirks and complexities off-putting (yep, you've guessed right - Dwarf Fortress is certainly not for me).

In contrast to the over complicated and downright ugly roguelikes of yore, David Williamson's Hack Slash Loot is far more the type of adventure game I prefer to play during my coffee break.  It's both incredibly accessible (with simple mouse driven controls), maddeningly addictive and presented in a super-retro, low resolution format using gorgeous micro-sized pixel art and featuring some neat audio effects.

Space Trip (C64)

Released with practically no fan-fare or hype by The New Dimension earlier this year, Achim Volkers' Space Trip is a nostalgic blast from the past.  Similar in both visual style and gameplay to Gremlin Graphics' Future Knight (1986), Space Trip is a multi-screen adventure in which you play the role of Captain Steve Zappa on an interstellar mission to eradicate alien invaders from captured space craft.

The Sounds of Tomchi

Whilst chatting with Tomchi briefly this evening, he was telling me about a new chiptune he has started for the r0x zer0 menu screen and I thought that it would be nice to show him a bit of support by showcasing a few of his recent tracks in this blog.

As an introduction, Tomchi (aka Nicolas Flandin) is one of the new school of Atari ST tracker musicians, still dedicated to the machine years after it's commercial demise and relentlessly striving to create fresh new sounds on the very limited YM2149 chip.  We met whilst working together on our r0x game project, and (despite his previous activity in the scene) it was here that I was first introduced to his music.  Since then, I've been hooked.

Tuesday 3 May 2011

Genesis - Dawn Of A New Day (ZX Spectrum)

Although I grew up with a +2A Spectrum in the house as a kid, these days I tend to overlook the majority of homebrew releases for the machine in favour of my upgraded C64. However, while skimming through the recently released games on the World Of Spectrum site, Retroworks' Genesis - Dawn Of A New Day instantly captured my attention with it's stylish monochrome graphics and promise of a worthwhile shoot 'em up experience on Sir Clive's much-loved and underpowered 128KB machine.

RGCD Website Status

Over the weekend I've succeeded in removing most of the evidence that this is a Blogger-built site (apart from the address, of course) and I've even managed to add a few new pages of content.  It isn't perfect, but after a lot of messing around it appears that Blogger is actually capable of building basic websites much faster than I can using html - and to be honest I'm quite happy with the results so far.

I've also been mailing some of the old RGCD crew to see if any of them are available to join the blog as authors - although I expect a lot of them will no longer have time due to real-life commitments (after all, that was what stopped me from editing the RGCD magazine).

The next logical step is to transfer what old RGCD data I can fit within Blogger's limitations and then link the domain here instead (while Elliot works on building a new site in the background).  We had a good chat this evening and agreed to use this blog system as a design tool for him to work from, so there are likely to be a great deal of changes here over the next few weeks/months while work progresses.

Regular visitors to the blog (are there any?) will notice that the tabs across the top of the page have changed; there are now pages here for both r0x and Robotz DX under the 'Games' section.  For now the text is just a direct copy from the original site - I'll work on updating them properly as soon as my desktop PC is up and running again.
In the meantime, if you are enjoying the new reincarnation of RGCD please take the time to comment, or at least add your email to the subscribe list (so you receive updates by email when they are published).  It's pretty lonely here at the moment... ;)

Sunday 1 May 2011

Dash-Da-Dash DX (PC)

When I first came across Renard's Dash-Da-Dash DX earlier this year (courtesy of a news post on, my first thoughts were far from positive.  Seeing a couple of screenshots of the game full of obviously ripped sprites and a soundtrack that sampled whole tracks by just about every underground electronic act worth mentioning from the past decade, I initially mistook it for another of those hideous no-effort montages from a coder who obviously was too lazy to create or source their own original material.
How wrong I was.