Archive for May, 2013

Timex/Sinclair 1000 (ZX81) – 2013 recap

Monday, May 13th, 2013

The old Timex/Sinclair (ZX81 for the Europe folks) has always been somewhat of a fascination of mine, ever since having one as my very first computer back in 1981 (it was actually a ZX81, before Timex took over production in the States). Even though it was black and white, had rather crude graphics, and no sounds, this machine just rocked (at least for me it did). I learned to program on this computer, and just loved how easy it was to work with.

For years now, this T/S 1000 has been in the Underdog Chamber as part of the ‘music’ setup, where the Sinclair machine would run digitized iPod commercials while a nearby Mac computer ran music and music videos on and LCD display. For 2013, thanks in part to a newer ZXpand unit (from the UK), the plan totally changed for the T/S 1000. The ZXpand unit that was on display with the T/S 1000 had a joystick port and a sound chip. This made perfect sense to have in the U.C. room, along with some rather good games from Revival Studios, who have released over four new games for the old ZX81 (T/S 1000, etc.). That, and I found out that Mazogs and 3D Monster Maze – super classic games from the early 80’s – worked with the joystick interface on the ZXpand.

In a few prior years, trying to run games on the T/S computers just didn’t work well. For 2013 with the ZXpand and games that used a joystick, this changed how people interacted with this old computer. They actually played games on it, and the simple (and slightly sad) fact was because they could do so with an Atari joystick that was hooked up to it. Whatever works though, and Revival and a few old classic games got their moment in the sun during the show. While they did not fair as well as would have been liked in regards to game play, they did okay, which is much better than running games on the T/S 1000 did back in ’09 when I last tried that. 3D Monster Maze and Mayhem were the two most popular games on display during the weekend.

Simple put, the T/S 1000 – aka ZX81 – did good for the 2013 U.C. exhibit. The joystick interface was the key in getting people to sit down and try games on this old computer, but if it works, that is fine with me. This setup will probably return for 2014, as more games are coming out that use the ZXpand joystick and sound chip (and not just Revival Studios either – other people are programming new games too). Come back for the 2014 show to see what is up for the old Sinclair computer.

Timex/Sinclair 1000 (ZX81 popularity rating for 2013: C-

Tele-Games Video Arcade – 2013 recap

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

With the Packrat mini-display in the U.C. room for 2013, the Tele-Games Video Arcade (aka 2600) made a return for the exhibit, partially to display some of the older Packrat releases, along with some other underdog games for the 2600 system. Just wish I had more Packrat games at that time, but you do what you can.

At the time of the show, there was only a very limited amount of Packrat games to display, with Skeleton+ doing best in that category. Other non-Packrat games that faired well were Coke Wins (which got some good laughs – which was expected), Reactor, Solar Fox, and more. The best part honestly was running Fast Food alongside Fatso on the Odyssey2 for a while on saturday. This got some decent comments, and one really good conversation with a gamer who was into these older consoles.

While the Tele-Games unit faired well for gameplay in the Underdog Chamber area for 2013, it did not do more than average at best, which I find a bit sad. A few too many people walked by the unit, without even trying to play a game. That always puzzled me, as why did they pay for the show then? Each to their own I guess, as I think part of it is just the simple fact that the aging 2600 system (and this clone) are fading a bit from the public limelight.

Thanks once again to Jeff Koss for loaning me his Tele-Games unit. This will be back gain in 2014 if at all possible, just because I expect to be able to actually sell at least one new 2600 game at the show by then. That will be something I’m truly looking forward to, plus I will also be putting up the usual underdog games too.

Tele-Games Video Arcade (2600) popularity rating for 2013: C-

Steel Battalion – 2013 recap

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Back again after being such a success last year, Steel Battalion was in full form for the Underdog Chamber for the 2013 show. Just like last year, we had setup four Xbox units running Steel Battalion: Line of Contact, with its wonderful game-play, and of course the huge controllers with tons of buttons and switches – and foot petals too. All for the great experience of a realistic tank simulation game.

As noted for last year, Steel Battalion is a vertical tank game, and one which is made as realistic as possible (thus the crazy but super cool controllers). Unlike last year, it seemed that Greg (the guy who owns all the S.B. units) had less time walking gamers through actually playing the game, but that was in part due to some amount of repeat show attendees from last year (and you won’t hear any complaints about that). Difficult as it can be to play this game, it always draws in gamers, and the four units setup were pretty much in constant use the whole weekend.

Unlike last year though, we did not hook the Steel Battalion units up in a LAN. That proved too much trouble last year, and gamers did not seem to have an issue with us doing single player this year (even though we had one request for a LAN, but the guy did not deliver on bringing in four experienced players). We also did not have anything go out this year, which is a plus, as things can break – and with the amount of things on the Steel Battalion controllers, there is a higher risk of something happening – but it didn’t.

Overall Steel Battalion was a smash hit once again for the Underdog Chamber, right along with Quake on the other side of the room. This setup will continue to be a staple from now on in the U.C. room, so expect it back for 2014. This unique gaming experience is something that you have to experience, at least once, to truly understand how good it is.

Steel Battalion (xBox) popularity rating for 2013: A+