Sunday, August 7, 2022

Sears (Atari) Tele-games Pong vs Magavox Odyssey 100 - Battle of the First Pong Consoles

Debuting in the fall of 1975, the Sears release of Atari's home version of Pong was a big success for that holiday season.  Owning a first-generation video game console like Atari Pong had been something of a dream of mine for quite a while.  The importance of Atari's first Home Pong console cannot be understated and much has been written about it.  I recently acquired a Sears Telegames Pong and wanted to talk about the machine and its significance in this blog article.  I also obtained a competitor to Sears/Atari's Pong, the Magnavox Odyssey 100, and wish to compare the two here.  

Thursday, August 4, 2022

The Godzilla Series Japanese Film U.S. Non-Theatrical Releases

In the prior blog entry, I worked to document the titles, credits and logos affixed to the theatrical releases of the Godzilla series.  Not all those films were given a wide theatrical release and as the blog entry covering theatrical releases was rather long, I decided to talk about the films which did not have theatrical releases in this entry.

Monday, August 1, 2022

The Godzilla Series Japanese Film U.S. Theatrical Releases

Godzilla was first introduced to the wider world through the medium of the cinema.  Western theater audiences were exposed to Godzilla and other Japanese sci-fi films on a fairly regular basis during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Godzilla's theatrical releases have garnered particular attention, the series is still going after almost seventy years.  A theatrical release of a foreign film in the US is a particular mark of distinction and prestige, and many people believe it is important to try and preserve these films as close to the way they were exhibited as possible.  The Godzilla franchise is one of the most successful in history but during its films theatrical runs would the greatest number of people see the film at one time.  

Some of Godzilla's theatrical releases are well-known and readily available, but most have fallen into obscurity.  Even in the VHS era when theatrical releases were more available, there was usually something missing or altered such as credits and title screens.  In this blog article I will identify what you would have seen in terms of credits and titles if you saw these films in a US theater during their wide release theatrical runs.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

The Last Gasp of the Intellivision Amico

Back in 2019, I wrote a blog article about the Intellivision Amico and predicted that there were significant hurdles which it would have to overcome if it was going to succeed in the marketplace.  Nearly three years later, the company behind the Amico, Intellivision Entertainment's, prospects of releasing anything other than a Chapter 7 or 11 Bankruptcy petition are looking exceedingly remote.  Millions of dollars in public and private investment were poured into Intellivision Entertainment and thousands of preorders with $100 deposits were placed for the console and thousands of RFID tag game boxes were sold.  All that money is probably gone now with almost nothing to show for it.  Formerly once rabid fans of the Amico have turned, one by one, against the company with bitterness previously reserved for the Amico's "haters".  Preorder backers are waiting increasingly long for the company to process cancellation requests.  Staff have been let go in order to cut costs, but Intellivision owes a lot of money to a lot of people, no consoles manufactured and increasingly fewer opportunities to find funding for its console.

But let's turn the clock back just a bit, back just to last year.  In 2021, the Amico was still a possibility, Tommy Tallarico was still the CEO, still willing to give lengthy interviews to anyone willing to listen and still able to contribute post after post to the AtariAge Forums.  Amico cheerleaders like Atari Creep, Retro Bro, SmashJT and Saggy Melonz were still touting the Amico and bashing the haters with tireless enthusiasm on YouTube.  Tommy was making the rounds with the console and the games that were sufficiently developed to show off to the general public.  I was present at one of those events, but while one could not have predicted with certainty, now it highly probable that it may have been the last.  In this blog article, I will relate my personal experiences at the last Amico demonstration of 2021 and then discuss why that potential is likely never to come to pass.  

Friday, July 1, 2022

Mass Storage and the Apple II - Conquering the Final Frontier

When we think about storage devices and the Apple II, everyone's first thought is usually the same, the 5.25" floppy disk.  Maybe the more historically informed of us may think of cassette tape or 3.5" disks or even the Apple Hard Disk 20SC, but those devices come a distant second to the mainstay of Apple II program and data storage, the 5.25" floppy disk.  When one is introduced to the Apple II, one must at least understand how floppies work on the basic level.  But what can you do when you want to go beyond the standard floppy disk to explore faster, higher capacity storage solutions.  If all software of any note was originally released on copy protected floppy disks, why bother looking for something else?  And if you want to explore, what will you need?  In this blog entry, I will try to answer these questions.

Monday, June 20, 2022

The Successors: Evolution of Monochrome Handhelds after the Game Boy

When the Nintendo Game Boy was released in April/July, 1989 (Japan/North America), there was nothing like it on the market.  The Game Boy was the first programmable handheld system with sufficient capabilities to play games that were similar to the home consoles of its day.  The Game Boy was intended to be an inexpensive device, so it used a monochrome reflective green screen rather than a difficult-to-manufacture and power hungry backlit color screen like its main competitors, the Atari Lynx, Sega Game Gear, NEC Turbo Express and later the Sega Nomad.  Although the Game Boy definitively ruled over the color competing systems, dominating the market until its successor, the Game Boy Color, was released in October/November of 1998, that does not mean it was the only monochrome handheld game console on the market.  Early in its lifetime it had competitors from Taiwan which tried to take away some of its market with little success.  Later, more established companies tried to get on the monochrome bandwagon, only to find that lightning does not necessarily strike twice.  Recently, as retro style gameplay experiences have found a market in the age of the Nintendo Switch, we have seen at least one or two companies try their hand at a monochrome handheld.  In this article we will trace the evolution of the consoles that tried to compete with the Game Boy or invoke its success.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

The Modern Unfriendliness of 8-bit Keyboard Layouts

Keyboards today have a standard layout.  All keyboards are based off the 104-key standard layout from the mid-1990s, and before that the IBM Model M 101 key layout.  But back before the IBM PC line introduced the 101 and brought uniformity to the home computer world, things were not standard at all.  Every home computer manufacturer had its ideas about what keys should be on the keyboard and where they should be.  This tends to cause some annoyances for emulating those computers, especially when the program relies on certain keys being in certain places.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

List of PCjr. and Tandy Exclusive Enhanced Games

The IBM PC computing platform supported gaming from the beginning, but at first its graphical and sound capabilities were not that much more advanced than an Apple II's. Other inexpensive home computers of the day (Atari 800, Commodore 64, TI-99/4A) could run rings around the IBM PC in the video and audio departments. IBM sought to improve its PC line's graphics and sound in an affordable system which became the PCjr., but that was a flop.  Tandy cloned the graphics and sound of the PCjr. and put it into a much more PC-compatible system, the Tandy 1000.  Between the two, the exclusive PCjr./Tandy graphics and sound hardware received wide support from game developers in the mid and late 1980s.  In this article, I will attempt to give a definitive list of games which have "better" graphica or sound on a PCjr. or Tandy 1000 due to this support or have unique video and audio support even if the game can utilize EGA, VGA, Adlib, Game Blaster or Sound Blaster or MT-32.