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.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

TMNT and Other Strangeness - Revival of the Mutant Animal RPG

On October 31 of this year (2023) Palladium Books announced a Kickstarter for a new edition of their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-based role playing game "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness". The Kickstarter campaign was well-timed and shrewdly presented, tapping on a vein of nostalgia that spans at least three generations. The campaign hit a home run, reaching a fairly-modest $250,000 funding goal in four hours and has almost tripled that fundraising as of this writing. Let's take a look at what the original RPG was like and what we might expect from a new revision of the campaign setting.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

The Unofficial Enhanced NESs - Continuing On where Nintendo Left Off

As we all know, Nintendo introduced the Famicom in 1983, ported it to the west as the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985 and after the last licensed games were released in 1993-94 Nintendo retired the system. But that does not mean that the hardware underlying the system was dead, the hardware was widely cloned and cartridges were still being made for it. Some companies decided develop the hardware further by adding new capabilities, such as new graphics modes and more sound channels, to work with games that would look less primitive than those that could only take advantage of 1983-era chip designs. Let's take a look at some of these approaches in this blog article.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

PCE 2.4g vs. PC Engine Mini Controller - Battle of the New PC Engine Controllers

The PC Engine has had something of a reemergence in the past few years. In 2019 Konami announced the PC Engine Mini and TurboGrafx-16 Mini consoles and miraculously released it in 2020. Also in 2020 8bitdo released their PCE 2.4g Wireless Gamepads and Analogue announced the availability of the Analogue Duo, an FPGA console designed to play the original HuCard and CD games. Having acquired both a controller which was sold for the PC Engine Mini console and the 8bitdo PCE 2.4g controller, I can give an opinion on their strengths and weaknesses.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Is that a Cricket I Hear? - Contemporary Sound Options for the Apple IIc

The "c" in the Apple IIc stood for compact. The Apple IIc was designed to be the epitome of the Apple II series, providing the options most people used in a realistically portable form factor but sacrificing the internal expansion slots which made the predecessor models in the Apple II line so popular. While sound cards like the Mockingboard were not the most popular of expansion cards, about three dozen games and music programs supported them. As there was nowhere to plug in a Mockingboard into a IIc, that left the IIc with only the internal speaker for audio output. But at least two sound products were made specifically for the Apple IIc, and I will take a look at one of them, the Cricket, in this blog article.

Friday, September 8, 2023

Attack of the PETSCII Robots - Review of a New Action Strategy DOS Game

Attack of the PETSCII Robots MS-DOS Version Cover (Partial, Courtesy of 8-bit Guy)

Back in 2018, David Murray, better known as The 8-Bit Guy on YouTube, released a newly developed game for the DOS-compatible PC called Planet X3. I eventually bought a copy and reviewed it. In more recent years he has designed a new game, Attack of the PETSCII Robots, which was released in 2021 for Commodore computers. The game has since then been widely ported to many home computer and console platforms, including MS-DOS earlier this year. I decided to buy the MS-DOS port, and after trying it out I will give my review here.