The Future of Baseball is nearly upon us!

I don’t really like ‘real’ Baseball as a sport. Playing it can be fun, but the need to follow so many rules can really make it drag out.

That said, I am hugely excited about the game because I have seen its future. In only three years time – in 2020 – you’ll be seeing male, female and robotic players in the field!

Yes, the future of baseball is almost here!

The Future of Baseball is here

In the world of Super Baseball 2020, robots jostle with human players in the Cyber Egg Stadium. To properly complete, human competitors can be equipped with powerful armour, computer sensors, and jet-packs for improved offence and defensive skills. Jet-packs!

Even the commentators are going to look cool!

Wait? What the hell is that robot? That one looks hostile! Those glowing red eyes suggest that baseball might only be the start of the robot revolution.

Super Baseball 2020 by Marc Ericksen

The image above, the one with the evil robot, can be found on the website of artist Marc Ericksen. Marc was asked to create the piece for Electronic Arts in 1994 after they had seen an earlier work created for GamePro magazine around a Japanese baseball game called Bases Loaded II: Second Season.

As you’ll see from this fantastic artwork, the future might actually involve laser swords instead of bats. You need this sort of kit if you’re going to be hitting balls thrown at light-speed by robots.

Bases Loaded II: Second Season by Marc Ericksen

Experience the future, in Super Baseball 2020, on the Neo Geo, Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. You can see a great comparison video over on the Retro Core Youtube channel.

The side-by-side comparisons from around 10 minutes into the video are a great way to get a glimpse of the future.

This post marks the start of a new series from me:
An irreverent and artistic A-Z of Neo Geo Gaming. Catchy, right?

Portal - Apple II

Have You Played Portal Yet On The Apple II?

When it comes to Portal I am of two minds. When I first saw the game in action on The Orange Box in 2007 I was blown away. I do have a fondness for puzzle titles but something about the videos I was seeing made me hesitant. While the idea of wielding an Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device was thrilling.

The truth of the matter is I’m one of those souls who is in fact affected by motion sickness. In first person games like Portal this is something of an issue as you might imagine. Still, the lure of not just Portal but Half-Life 2 and of course Team Fortress 2 . Made sure I was there on release day at my local game store to pick up my copy.
Portal - The Orange Box

The results were as to be expected. In addition my crippling weakness of motion sickness also affected me when playing Half-Life 2. However at the very least I was able to engage in another type of science with Team Fortress 2!

That’s how I lost my medical license!

Thankfully my Wife was able to make use of Portal – so I got the story of Chell, even if I had to leave the room and lay down every 15 minutes to do so. But all of that nasty motion sickness is behind us now thanks to Vince Weaver!
Portal - Vince Weaver

Who not only happens to be an assistant professor at the University of Maine -in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. But also sports a nice flux capacitor behind him and managed to program Portal on the Apple II. Worries of being struck down by motion sickness are a thing of the past!

Not too shabby a feat for a system that was built 24 years before Portal arrived on the scene, right? In addition Vince was able to pull this off using Applesoft Basic. He also managed to include a chiptune version of Still Alive!

Now that you know a bit about Portal for the Apple II, why not watch it in action? A walkthrough of sorts hosted by Vince Weaver!

[Via] Deater78

Oh, hey! Sorry – didn’t realize you were finished with that video. I was just enjoying this delicious and rather moist cake sent over by our friends from Aperture Laboratories. Why not let GLaDOS entertain you with an uplifting song while I finish this cake?

[Via] Norbert Tomo

starcade-2

Shout! Factory To Reboot Starcade For Television!

Starcade thanks to the folks at Shout! Factory has earned an extra life. Talk about some unexpectedly good news, right?

Of course if you grew up in the Golden Age of the arcades. Starcade was an incredibly amazing and popular game show. Premiering on TBS back in 1982 – Starcade was really something special. Thanks in no small part to the show’s main host, Geoff Edwards.
Starcade - Geoff Edwards

Now the news about Starcade being rebooted – introduced to a new generation is awesome. A true reason to celebrate in fact. Having said that I certainly hope our friends from Shout! Factory will always take this opportunity to release the original episodes to DVD.

There isn’t a whole lot of information on what the new show will be like at this time. I have to doubt that it will focus on arcade games but who can say? They do use the term “retro-boot” in the press release:

“Shout! Factory, a multi-platform media company, has acquired worldwide television format and ancillary rights to the classic TV game show STARCADE from JM Production Company and show creators James Caruso and Mavis E. Arthur. The agreement provides Shout! Factory the rights to develop and produce a reboot of the show for television, as well as production of additional projects for a global audience. Shout! Factory will executive produce these projects with JM Production Company, creators of the original game show. This announcement was made today by Shout! Factory’s founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos; and show creators James Caruso and Mavis E. Arthur.

“STARCADE is a classic game show from the ’80s and is pure nostalgic fun. We couldn’t be more excited to work with the original show creators to ‘retro-boot’ STARCADE for a new generation of fans,” stated Shout! Factory’s founders. “As we continue to actively expand our reach into production and development for new series, movies, unscripted shows and specials, this deal exemplifies the type of content we plan to pursue which taps into the interests and passions of our company’s loyal fanbase.”

Created by James Caruso and Mavis E. Arthur, STARCADE first aired in 1982 during the dawn of the video game era and is widely recognized as the first-ever video arcade game show, featuring great gamers competing against rivals playing the most popular games of the day in front of a live studio audience in order to win huge prizes. Alex Trebek hosted one of the first pilots for the show which was later picked up by Ted Turner to air on his then-fledgling cable station, WTBS; STARCADE went on to air more than 130 episodes over three seasons on Turner.

“I consider myself lucky to have been part of the first generation to grow up playing video games and watching STARCADE in the 1980s,” said Shout! Factory’s Development Director, Jeremy Whitham. “Back then, no one could have predicted video games would one day become the world’s most popular form of entertainment. I can’t wait to see today’s crop of celebrities, pro gamers and e-sports stars compete head-to-head and find out who is the top player on the planet.”

“We’re thrilled to be part of this STARCADE revival,” said Jim Caruso and Mavis E. Arthur, producers of the original STARCADE series. “We look forward to bringing the show back for all those avid Starcaders who have been waiting for years, as well as a new class of gaming heroes. Game on!”

The deal was negotiated by Shout’s Jeremy Whitham and James Caruso, the creator and executive producer of the original STARCADE.

If you’ve not had the pleasure of seeing Starcade before – you are in for a treat. Here is an episode featuring the likes of Pengo, Gyruss, Qix, and Graplop!

[Via] Retrorama

Have you played Cannon Fodder in Color?

War has never been so much fun.

That’s a controversial way to start a Retroist post, so imagine the uproar when a little video game called Cannon Fodder used it to maximum effect back in 1993!

Cannon Fodder from Sensible Software rocked Great Britain, baiting the British media into advertising it through its use of the Remembrance Day poppy, and that ‘catchy’ phrase. The newspapers had a field day with this game, criticising it for its juxtaposition of war and humour, calling the game “offensive to millions” and “monstrous”.

It wasn’t all bad press though. One paper stated that the game was “a relatively profound statement on the futility of war”. Regardless, the publicity surrounding Cannon Fodder made it a game worthy of attention. And did I mention that the game intro actually SANG that memorable catchphrase too? Look and listen kids…

Thankfully, media attention and controversy were not the defining features of this war game. Cannon Fodder is incredibly good! An overhead action game where you are your soldiers fight with nothing but a mouse pointer to guide them.

I could spend time explaining the gameplay. The nice little touches like the poppies planted in the field for each lost soul. The overwhelming feeling of dread when you lost a soldier that had been with through numerous campaigns. If you’ve not played the Amiga original, you should really hunt out a longplay video on Youtube to see for yourself. This game was truly brilliant, and a reason to own the hardware.

Handheld Fodder.

The Amiga version of Cannon Fodder wasn’t really meant to be my focus for this post though. Instead, let me introduce you to the scaled down Game Boy Color edition:

Cannon Fodder on the Nintendo Game Boy Color

Quite by accident I spotted on Ebay listing for Cannon Fodder GBC and was surprised to see a high purchase price. I didn’t know anything about this version of the game, but that high price intrigued me.

I went looking for a gameplay video to learn more and I was not disappointed. The game is a delight in every regard!

It has a CGI intro, gorgeous graphics, amazing audio and technically stunning gameplay that I didn’t know this Nintendo portable was capable of… this video really is a must-see:

The game is clearly cut-down from its original source. You don’t control the same number of soldiers, the viewable area is much smaller, proper tactical decisions are mostly replaced by a simpler version of the core games run-and-gun mechanic… you get the idea.

It’s basically everything I thought would be wrong with the game. Except in this rare exception, this diminutive Cannon Fodder doesn’t suffer at all from these changes. It instead becomes a game that borrows heavily from its source, making something wonderful for its host system.

More Fodder

Whilst researching this article, I read the original manual for Cannon Fodder on the Amiga. It is full of really funny comments, such as:

You do not directly control troopers but instead determine their behaviour thanks to a remarkable interfacing technique involving a mouse, a pointer, and a troop leader,

and

BAZOOKAS – Not to be confused with the crude trombone-like musical instruments of the same name, or, indeed, bazoomas, which are something else entirely. These bazookas are weapons of war.

and

… on a more serious note: don’t try playing this at home, kids, because war is not a game – war, as Cannon Fodder demonstrates in its own quirky way, is a senseless waste of human resources and lives. We hope that you never have to find out the hard way.

If you like the Cannon Fodder theme tune, this video might interest you. It is the Amiga CD32 intro which features the developers acting up. The CD32 of course was Commodore’s ill-fated foray into the world of console gaming:

Still here? Then watch as the creator of the Cannon Fodder theme, Jon “Jops” Hare, sings and plays his creation at Pixel Heaven 2014!

If I still haven’t convinced you that Cannon Fodder on the Game Boy Color is a worthy title, IGN gave it a 90% review back in 2001.

Please don’t leave the screaming wounded to die. Bite the bullet, so to speak. and do the decent thing: finish them off.

Retro New Year's Eve

Vic Sage’s Retro New Year’s Eve 2016!

When you work at an arcade in this day and age, a retro New Year’s Eve is to be expected, right? Over the last couple of years I have been glad to share with you the Holiday event at the Arkadia Retrocade. What better way to celebrate a retro New Year’s Eve than being surrounded by vintage games.
Retro New Year's Eve - 2016

For the many fans of the Golden Age of arcade games, this is most certainly the place to be. Especially on a New Year’s Eve. From my previous posts for the Holiday you might recall that I try to bring something special as well. I am referring of course to the vintage Kool-Aid, nay, that sweet nectar of the Gods. The Great Bluedini!

While I do in fact still possess a precious few of those Great Bluedini packs I bought 26 years ago. Like the previous year I had to turn to e*Bay for help to make sure I had enough. And let me expain that I insist on using only the vintage Kool-Aid packets to make the delicious beverage. Although having said that…it’s getting harder and more expensive to do so every year. But it is all worth it for the Players to be able to enjoy five gallons of the greatest Kool-Aid flavor ever created!

Friends, I don’t believe I’ve ever shared this bit of info before. But back in my youth I had another name for the Great Bluedini. I called it the Pure Source – in reference to 1982’s TRON of course.

Anyway, there was a bit of a hiccup in this retro New Year’s Eve plan…I had to work at the hotel. I was not happy about this to say the least. But that is part of being an ‘adult’ I suppose. So I made sure that the Great Bluedini was dropped off at the arcade before work.

In addition I enjoyed some of the tasty beverage with some very special people at the arcade. The Retroist’s own Gary Burton with our good friend, Alex.

One of my fellow concession employees at the arcade, Jonah Bright aka The Iron Monkey. Who I think you’ll agree has the greatest glasses ever made!

As well of course – sharing a cup of the Blue with Shea Mathis. Who you might remember is the owner and manager of the Arkadia Retrocade – besides being one of my best friends.

There is one other thing I had to do differently this year, while dropping off the Great Bluedini. In the previous years I’ve made a point of always pulling off the Minus World glitch in Super Mario Bros. After the clock has struck midnight and the New Year has officialy begun. Why? Well – quite simply, the first year we had the retro New Year’s Eve party, there were Players present who had never heard of this glitch.

So in this case, I had to perform the trick to visit the Negative World a little earlier than normal.

With a bit of a heavy heart but a belly full of the Blue I had to go to work. I’m not sure how many of you work the night audit shift at a hotel. But as you can imagine – New Year’s Eve can be a handful. Thankfully the fact I was missing the fun at the arcade was lessened by the photos that were being sent to me throughout the night.

Hannah, Lisa, and Shea supervising the disbursement of the Blue!

So how did I celebrate my own retro New Year’s Eve this year?

By reading Guillermo del Toro’s At Home With Monsters and sipping my own mug of Great Bluedini!

So here is to 2017, my friends. May it be a brighter and filled with even more retro fun!

The Fun Was Back

Happy Atari Day! In 1988 The Fun Was Back!

As this is the 26th of the month, you all know too well what that means. It’s of course Atari Day once again. That time every month when we fans of all things Atari do our best to spread not only our memories of that legendary company, but in fact attempt to point out it’s legacy is still quite strong. Or in other words share why back in 1988 the fun was back!

With today being Boxing Day in the UK and Canada among other countries. It only seemed natural that with the Holiday that we take a look at 1987’s RealSports Boxing.
The Fun Was Back - Atari 2600

On the other hand I feel I should add that I do know that Boxing Day has nothing to do with the Sweet Science. In fact the Oxford English Dictionary gives an explanation for the naming of the Holiday.

A present or gratuity given at Christmas: in Great Britain, usually confined to gratuities given to those who are supposed to have a vague claim upon the donor for services rendered to him as one of the general public by whom they are employed and paid, or as a customer of their legal employer; the undefined theory being that as they have done offices for this person, for which he has not directly paid them, some direct acknowledgement is becoming at Christmas.

Check it out, you learned something today while we are sharing memories of the past here on The Retroist! In addition back in 1988 after the Nintendo Entertainment System had made its mark on popular culture. The Atari 2600 took a stab at Players who of course still had a large collection of 2600 titles. Or were tempted by the less than 50 dollar price tag for the system.

Moreover the company felt that by showing off some of their newer game cartridges. Like Midnight Magic, Solaris, and of course RealSports Boxing. They rightfully could prove that there was still plenty of fun left in the Atari 2600 – or that the fun was back!

Retro Commercials Forever

Now that you understand why The Fun Was Back in 1988, why not check out RealSports Boxing in action?

Awkuhtay

Remember that every 26th of the month is Atari Day!

Image courtesy of Atari I/O’s Facebook page.


To learn even more about the fun of Atari Day be sure to hop on over and check out fellow Retroist writer Atari I/O’s site by following the link here!