Greetings from the road, Retro fans! Once again I find myself traveling across the country for work. Last night during some downtime in the hotel, I finally got a chance to try out one of my Christmas gifts I’ve been meaning to open — the 8-Bitty gamepad.
The 8-Bitty is a bluetooth gamepad designed to be compatible with the iCade. Any game that supports the iCade also supports the 8-Bitty. That includes over a hundred games for the iPad and Android devices. The 8-Bitty requires two AAA batteries (and has an on/off switch on the back to greatly extend their lifespan). Installation is comparable to any other bluetooth device. It took about 10 seconds to sync before it was ready to use.
With the 8-Bitty synced to the iPad, I fired up iMAME and was able to immediately start playing. In MAME the start and select buttons on the controller are mapped to add coins and start the game. The controller features 8 buttons in all: in addition to start and select there are four action buttons and two shoulder buttons.
After MAME I fired up the Atari Classic Collection and played some Asteroids, Bowling, and Yars’ Revenge. I thought the gamepad worked okay overall. I don’t think the d-pad feels as good as an original Nintendo pad, but it’s passable. The gamepad is easily small enough to throw in a pocket or backpack and take with you on the road. I’m sure the 8-Bitty will become a permanent addition to my travel pack in the future!
A great series of videos have been posted on YouTube that walk you through the process of building your own MAME arcade cabinet. While I think you will need to consult non-video sources during a home build, I think this makes MORE than a decent primer for the process. Especially if you have some DIY skills (unlike me).
Over the next few weeks I will be scouring the retro gaming scene for the best video game music.
So I’m throwing you a curve ball here (wow check out the Brit using an American slang term) and using some music from an arcade game. X-Men (1992) was released by Konami and I’m almost positive that hardly anyone would have heard this at the arcade with all the many games shouting out their own form of musical advertisement. I was lucky enough to visit a friend who owns a cabinet featuring this very game and was engrossed (I also laughed hard at the Magneto quote “welcome to die”). This is defiantly Japanese arcade music at its fullest and I think it has some Capcom influences . They were both using the Sound CPU: Z80 (all be it Konami at 8 MHz) and two Sound Chips: YM2151 and K054539. Ok I’m getting technical now I had better finish this here before the (Gweat and tewerble) editor Retroist decides to see if I have mutant healing powers by beating me with the business end of a Mos technology SID chip still connected to his C64 and let me tell you, that will leave a mark (if not on your body then on your mind)
*only E-beatings will be acceptable, real life beatings may be met with a letter from my lawyer (who has an adamantium bonded to his skeleton)
I have been thinking of building my own MAME arcade machine lately. I am just not sure I have the room for it and do not want a bulky arcade machine just sitting in the middle of my living room. I was about to shelve the idea for another year when I came across this lovely Philco Predicta Casemod. They took an old Philco from the late 50s (the Predicata was made from 1958-1960), hollowed it out and put a computer inside of it. The results, as you can see are pretty amazing.
I am now in the market for a Philco shell, so if you know of one, give me a yell. For more info about this mod build drop by Philco Predicta Casemod [@] Onomy Labs.
Any self respecting retroist will tell you that when looking for real estate you have only three things you need to consider: Arcade, Arcade, Arcade. When I was living on the West Coast I had access to some wonderful video games at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and I spent many a weekend reliving the glorious days of my youth in their classic game corner. When I moved to the great center of our nation I was worried that I would have difficulty finding a similar experience, but I found out quickly I could not be more wrong.
After settling into my new home and getting MAME fatigue I decided to do a little research. After a short amount searching I found the answer to my video game dreams the Star Worlds Arcade. Located in the beautiful city of DeKalb, this Arcade is just under an hour away. To the car!
DeKalb is a bit of a hike through some nice farm country, but the further I got away from Suburbandom the more I was worried. Can farm country have a decent arcade? I was worried for nothing. As you approach the city, the strip malls and fast food joints start popping like gangbusters. I was in my element.
Now where is this place? I had the address, but I was unfamiliar with where I was. I was just about to stop and ask directions. No need, as I crossed the train tracks I spotted the sign on a non-nondescript brick building.
The arcade is smaller then I thought it would be and a lot less flashy then what I expected, but who cares. Did you see that website? Classic games be ahead. Upon entering the arcade you are struck by two things, the smell of fresh popped popcorn and the fact that every square foot of this building is crammed with classic games. I pulled out a $10 and was given 60 tokens by Pac Man Pat. Tokens? Pac Man Pat? I have died and gone to retroist heaven.
The games are in great conditions and their are a few rare ones here, including Domino Man and a perfectly functioning pinball hybrid Baby Pac-Man. I was 12 years old again jumping from game to game like a demon. Is that Pinbot? Burger Time? You name it and they have it and almost all of the games are just one token.
I mentioned that the place is crammed with games. It is also decorated with great classic video game memorabilia on every surface (even the bathroom). I could describe it all in great details, but I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
I am not sure where the afternoon went, but before I knew it I was out of tokens and my stomach was grumbling. I got 5 more tokens and made a last pass through the arcade and played some Pinbot. It was with a heavy heart that I left the arcade that day. I promised I would be back (I have) and introduced myself to Pat. He was nice enough to slide me this bad boy for my next trip.
Star Worlds is doing bang up job of keeping a piece of history alive. But like all small businesses they need your help. So if you need a great retro experience drop in and play for a while. Just don’t touch the high score on Burger Time. That belongs to me!