Sunday, January 29, 2023

CGA and "Intended", "Incidental" and "Just Plain Wrong" Graphics

When IBM released its Color/Graphics Adapter card as one of the two display adapters supported by the IBM PC Model 5150 when it launched in August of 1981, it offered two video output options, RGB video and composite video. RGB video offered much sharper text and purer colors than composite video but required expensive and special monitors. Composite video would work with any color monitor or TV and had the unique ability to offer more colors via artifact color. The CGA output both types of video at the same time. In a sense every game that supports CGA supports both RGB and Composite color, but that does not mean that every game will look the way the graphics artists intended the game to look. In this article we will discuss some examples of the "Intended" look versus the "Incidental" look of CGA gaming graphics. 

Friday, January 13, 2023

The X-Station Optical Drive Emulator : The Key to the Sony PlayStation's Library

The Sony PlayStation (PSX)'s impact on console gaming cannot be understated.  It was extremely successful, defining its generation of consoles.  It was the first truly successful gaming console to rely on optical discs.  It popularized removable memory card storage, which permitted progress or configuration data to be saved for virtually every game.  The controller design also saw improvements in the form of dual shoulder buttons for each side and later the dual shock analog sticks.  The movement to CDs allowed more games to be published, the US PlayStation library alone amounts to approximately 1,500 distinct games.  Exploring the vastness of the PlayStation library on an original PlayStation has now been made relatively easy thanks to the rise of Optical Drive Emulators (ODEs).  In today's blog post I am going to talk about the X-Station ODE, a modification which opens your PSX to the vastness of PSX gaming.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Accelerating your Tandy 1000s

The Tandy 1000s have unique graphics hardware and sound hardware that was supported for a long time.  The number of Tandy 1000s was so large that many games from prestige publishers released after 1984 would have support for Tandy 16-color graphics and/or Tandy 3-voice sound.  While there were other graphics solutions which provided 16-color full screen graphics at a resolution of 320x200 pixels, only the Tandy 1000 series had any significant support in games.  Additionally, the Adlib and other expansion sound cards did not get PC gaming support until September of 1988.  During the lifespan of the Tandy 1000s, the system speeds were generally keeping pace with games, but by the end of the 1980s the 1000 line was not getting any faster, but games and applications were becoming increasingly demanding.  In this article let's talk about the benefits and drawbacks of installing CPU accelerators in your Tandy 1000s.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Drive your Neo Geo Pocket Color to its Limits - The NeoPocket GameDrive

The Neo Geo Pocket Color may not have been a success against the Game Boy Color, but it did put up a fight against Nintendo's mighty handheld system.  It had several innovative features for the time, a battery backed clock, a micro-switched 8-way thumbstick and hardware that was not held back by the need to maintain backwards compatibility with a large existing monochrome library.  Unfortunately the NGPC only had 90 games released across all regions, so the library is a bit thin.  Moreover it can be very expensive to buy many of the best games, some NGPC carts get real pricey.  Enter the subject of today's blog post, the NeoPocket GameDrive Flash Cart.

Friday, December 2, 2022

So Many Floppies! - Late DOS/Early Windows Era Installations

The CD-ROM format continually promised to make floppy disks obsolete.  First introduced in a usable form in 1986, the CD-ROM's 650MiB capacity was enormous when 1.2MiB 5.25" floppies were largest available removable media at the time and hard drives maxed out at around 50 MiB.  While CD-ROMs were standard equipment on current PCs by 1995 and the principal method for software installation by that year, the PCs reliance on floppy disks for operating system installation lasted for much longer than anyone anticipated.  How long you ask?  Let's find out.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Re-Modding a Game Boy

One day, while browsing through a local collectibles store, I came across some Game Boys.  I saw that two of these Game Boys were unusual and decided to bring one home to play with.  With this Game Boy I was able to fill a small but nagging hole in my handheld console collection.  So in today's blog post, I will discuss an unusual Game Boy to find in the wild and what I did to fix and improve it.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Atari 400 - An Atari 2600 on Steroids and More

The Atari 400 and Atari 800 were released by Atari in late 1979 as a follow up to the successful Atari Video Computer System (VCS).  Unlike the VCS, the 400 and 800 came with keyboards as well as more powerful hardware and more RAM.  Having recently acquired an Atari 400, let me talk about some of the issues I have encountered with it.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Apple II Sound Cards & Gaming - A Niche Precursor to PC-Compatible Sound Cards

The Apple II was distinctive when it was released because it was the first microcomputer and the only one of the "1977 Trinity" of consumer-friendly computers (TRS-80 and Commodore PET being the other two) to come with any kind of audio capabilities built in.  Those capabilities were primitive, a speaker that could be clicked in software by the CPU.  Other computers followed with sound chips built in like the Atari 400 and 800, the TI 99/4 & 4A, the Commodore VIC-20 and 64 and so on.  But the Apple II was more flexible than any of its 8-bit competitors in having expansion slots to allow for less expensive and less bulky expansion options.  Eventually games began to look at some of those expansion capabilities, and in this article we will talk about how they explored them in terms of sound.