Sunday, June 16, 2024

Completing the Apple IIc Upgrade Experience

The Apple IIc, while a great little system, has a great deal of upgrade potential. In a previous blog entry I talked about the Mockingboard 4c, which is one of the most interesting upgrades for the system, but there are other upgrades worth discussing that may not be worthy of a full blog entry. So here are some of my thoughts and review of some other upgrade options for the original IIc.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

The Sony PVM 1342Q - A High Quality Display for Consoles and Computers


Sony PVMs and BVMs are probably the most desired CRT displays for all retro gaming. They were high end monitors and cost a lot of money to purchase when they were sold. I recently acquired one of them, a PVM 1342Q, at reasonable cost. This monitor is very versatile in that it has both Analog and Digital RGB inputs as well as Composite and S-Video inputs. Let's take a focused look at what this PVM can do.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

FPGBC - The Budget FPGA Handheld


Portable or handheld devices which play retro video games are very common these days. Companies like Anbernic and Powkiddy make multiple consoles which can emulate some very advanced video game consoles. The Steam Deck and the Nintendo Switch can also emulate or run retro video games. These things are a dime a dozen these days and come in all shapes and sizes, but they all rely on software emulation. Until recently there has been one FPGA handheld console, the Analogue Pocket. In the past several months, a new challenger has entered the arena, the FPGBC from FunnyPlaying. In this article I will give my impressions of the device and review it on its own merits compared to the console it is trying to simulate, the Game Boy Color.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Nintendo's Console Accessory Cheapness

Nintendo's consoles have, for the most part, been somewhat high priced over the years. The company likes to keep it that way, you will not see a Nintendo console in a bargain bin or heavily discounted, even toward the end of its lifespan. The maintenance of price contributes to its "prestige branding." Nintendo usually makes a modest profit on the consoles it sells, unlike Sony and Microsoft it does not solely rely on software sales to make up the cost of hardware production. But those profits come at a price for the consumer, especially in Japan. Let's see how Nintendo cut costs when releasing consoles in its native country.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

King's Quest IV - The First True PC Compatible Game

KQ4 Box, courtesy of MobyGames

When we think of PC Compatible games, thoughts of freedom may pop into one's mind. Intel, nVidia, AMD, gamers generally have a choice of which hardware to use in their systems. PC games have been, generally speaking, not tied to any particular manufacturer's hardware. Competition within the PC hardware market allowed consumers the luxury of choice. In the 1990s and onwards your motherboard could have been made by one manufacturer, your graphics card by another and so on and you could get a really good gaming experience. But this was not always the case, PC compatible games of the 1980s were often seen as lacking compared to other computers and generic PCs were content to clone rather than innovate. This all began to change in 1988 when King's Quest IV was released. In this blog article I will briefly summarize the evolution of PC gaming hardware and then discuss how KQ4 opened up PC gaming into what would eventually become the default non-console paradigm of how to play video games.

Saturday, December 9, 2023

The Mockingboard 4c - Adding Sound Card Functionality to the Apple IIc


Among the Apple II models, the IIc is undoubtedly the restricted of the bunch. The system integrated just about every necessity for mid-1980s computing, a built in disk drive, serial ports for printing and telecommunications, an external drive and a joystick/mouse port. The Apple II line has been previously well-appreciated for its expandability, with each of the three predecessor models having multiple general-purpose expansion slots. For the compact IIc, there was no capability to upgrade the system internally at first, later IIcs permitted an internal memory expansion. This meant that software that did not use a built in peripheral had to be updated to support similar peripherals which had to be accessed in other ways. Today we are going to look at a product that tried to go a different route and try to answer whether it succeeded!

Monday, November 20, 2023

Dai Yakyuu! - The 8-bit Explosion of Japanese Baseball Video Games

Baseball & Famista '94

Baseball (Yakyuu) has had a long history in Japan. Imported from the United States before World War II, Japan built leagues and fielded players that have maintained the popularity of the sport more or less ever since. When video games became accessible to the Japanese in the late 1970s, they tried to mimic a wide range of human competitive activities, not unlike American consoles. Judging by the Famicom's game library, baseball would have been the most popular sport played in Japan by far. Dozens of baseball games were released during the decade of the Famicom's active commercial development, let's take a look at some games and some trends in these titles.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Doctor Who DVD and Blu-ray Frame Rate & Resolution Issues

Doctor Who has had a very lengthy history on optical media.  From the first release of The Five Doctors in 1999 to Series 13 2022 Specials, many, many discs have been stamped of Doctor Who-related content. Not all discs have been error free, and some errors have come down to more subtle issues than a missing shot or misspelt credit.  Frame rate and resolution issues tend to plague the line, and these will be the focus of this blog entry.