Sunday, 21 October 2012

Amiga 1200 - 20 Years Old Today!

Released on the 21st October 2002, the Amiga 1200 was Commodore's final budget machine before it filed for bankruptcy in early 1994.

Priced at £399, the initial UK pack, entitled "Desktop Dynamite", saw the machine bundled with platformers Oscar and Dennis, art package Deluxe Paint IV AGA, wordprocessor Wordsworth, and operating system Workbench 3.0.

The A1200 was a 32-bit system, played host to a 14mhz 68EC020 microprocessor, and came with 2 MB of RAM as standard. The machine also contained the AGA chipset, which increased the color palette from the A500's 4096 to 16.8 million colours.

The machine was originally intended to be released with the AAA chipset, offering increased audio and graphical specifications. However, with development lagging behind, the A1200 was rushed to market with the Amiga 4000's AGA chipset instead.

These days, the Amiga 1200 seems to be the platform of choice for those who wish to keep a working Amiga system at home. This is mainly due to the low price of the computer on the second hand market, combined with excellent expansion possibilities.

Such is the popularity of the A1200, that even today new hardware is still being released for the platform. These include graphics cards to allow the machine to be connected to high definition displays, RAM and CPU expansions, and even compact flash card adaptors.

If you're thinking of bringing your A1200 out of retirement you may find that due to Commodore's sourcing of cheap parts the capacitors on your machine have started to go. If your mouse is playing up or your sound has gone or is distorted then you may need to take the top off the case and take a look for leaks.

If the caps have gone, don't panic, and certainly don't even think about binning your machine. Pop over to Amibay where a number of forumites are offering cap replacement services. If you'd rather send your machine off to a registered company AmigaKit will also replace the components for you.

Raise a glass for the trusty Amiga 1200, and think what might have been had Commodore remained in business.

(Thumbnail image borrowed from the excellent Amiga History web site)

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Massive Retro Mag Scans Archive at Your Fingertips

Like many Brits I've recently taken advantage of the free loft and wall insulation scheme brought in by the government, and currently being carried out by hundreds of companies up and down the land.

While it's great to finally bring my house insulation up to 21st century standards, (and for free!) it's meant me spending four or five weekends emptying out the loft and sorting through piles of junk prior to the installation.

Much of what I brought down from the loft went to either the tip (five trips!) or the local charity shop (two trips), but a good proportion of it got re-organised, boxed-up and put back up there.

It was during this sorting and boxing-up process that I realised just how many magazines I had stashed away - the entire run of Amiga Power (complete with disks), almost every issue of Crash from issue 1 until the early 90s, Your Sinclairs from 1986 to 1993, alongside stacks of Amiga Formats, Amiga Shoppers, CU Amigas and even a number of Your Computers.

With the loft re-insulated I had less than half the original loft storage space I had before the installation went in, and so I had to bite the bullet and make some sacrifices. Naturally the Amiga Powers, issues of Crash, C&VG, Sinclair User, Nintendo Magazine System, Amiga Formats and Your Sinclair magazines were put in order, boxed up and placed back in the loft, but I simply had to trim the collection. I was out of room!

After much thought the following random issues went out for recycling: CU Amiga, ACE, Amiga Shopper, various Nintendo titles, and a pile of chopped-up issues of Your Computer, which as a kid I'd cut all the adverts out of and stuck on my walls (I just loved the Ultimate and Mikro Gen ads back in the day).

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology I no longer need to stockpile all these ancient tomes of computer and console coverage as much of it's been scanned in and made available online for free.

And it's down to the efforts of those who support the Internet Archive that all these magazines have been put into one place, where they can now be read online or downloaded for offline viewing as and when you want.

Here are just a few of the publications they've archived and made publicly available:

- Advanced Computer Entertainment (ACE) Archive
- Amiga Shopper Archive
- Amstrad Action Archive
- Commodore Format Archive - Crash Magazine Archive
- CU Amiga Archive
- Official Sega Saturn Magazine Archive
- Sinclair User Magazine Archive - Your Computer Magazine Archive
- Your Sinclair Magazine Archive
- Zzap 64 Magazine Archive

The full (massive!) list of magazine scans can be found HERE.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Two New Retro Music Albums From Yerzmyey

I'm not sure if retro computer music albums are like buses, but in this instance, you wait for one, and all of a sudden two come along at once.

Retro musician, Yerzmyey, has just released two free to download albums. The first, entitled "RetroBeat", features a collection of eight new tracks created with an Amiga 1200, while the second, "Strange Light Under My Bed" was created using an Atari Falcon, a 128K Spectrum, an Atari 520ST, an Amiga and a 48K Spectrum.

RetroBeat's got a real oldskool demo sound to it, and you could easily imagine a classic megademo pumping out one of the tracks as vector cubes and bobs strobe across the screen.

The track List is as follows:
01. Critical Density
02. GeoCosmos
03. Interdimensional Crusader
04. RetroBeat
05. Into Aphelium
06. From Desert to Forest
07. Arcane Zone
08. Time Machine

Total playing time: 31:17

Meanwhle, Strange Light Under My Bed features strong Jarre influences, with a real late 70s / early 80s sound.

The track List is as follows:
01. Noise reduction (Atari Falcon 030)
02. Unknown radiation spectrum (ZX Spectrum 128K)
03. Enormous magnitude (ATARI 520ST)
04. Strange light under my bed (AMIGA 500)
05. Starlies (ZX Spectrum 48K)

Total playing time: 42:19 min.

For more information, and links to download the albums and CD artwork point your browsers over to: Earlier albums produced by Yerzmyey can also be downloaded from the above site.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters

I'll admit to being a massive fan of computer, console and arcade related films and TV documentaries. I've got a fair old stack of them in the collection, with King of Kong, Pirates of Silicon Valley and Chasing Ghosts being just a few of my favourites.

Earlier today I was made aware of a new King of Kong style production entitled "Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters".

With an IMDB rating of 8.2 I was keen to learn more about this release, so off to YouTube I went to view the trailer and arm myself with further details.

The blurb on the official YouTube channel for the release reads...
"Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters, [is] a feature length documentary set for release in 2012 that captures the greatest world record Tetris players as they prepare for the Classic Tetris World Championship.

From the days of Thor Aackerlund and his historic victory at the 1990 Nintendo World Championships, right up to the present and Harry Hong's perfect "Max-Out" score, this documentary expertly chronicles over two decades of Tetris Mastery".
For more information, go to the official Ecstasy of Order web site at

The film is available to purchase on DVD for $19.99 plus shipping, or via a number of download/streaming services including iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play and more.

My thanks go to Twitter user @Wahwah_UK for the heads-up on this.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

NES Tengen Tetris Prototype Up on Ebay - $45k!

I was alerted to this auction courtesy of Julian Rignall's (@JazRignall) Twitter feed, when earlier this morning his tweeted;
"Real or fake? $45k NES Tengen Tetris prototype cart is very cool and VERY rare. But where's the authentication?"
Naturally, I had to take a look, and off to Ebay I went.

Here's part of the seller's item description;
"This is the real deal, the extremely rare and once thought nonexistent prototype of the Tengen Version of Tetris which states Licensed by Nintendo on the title screen.

If you are a serious collector and capable of winning this auction, you already know why this cartridge is so rare and so valuable.

Why is this cart so important to video game history?

This important piece of history was followed by one of the ugliest lawsuits in early video game history. One where Tengen was forced to pull their superior version from the shelves just 4 weeks after release. Only 100,000 units of the production version of Tengen Tetris were sold during that time period.

THIS IS A ONE OF A KIND ORIGINAL PROTOTYPE It is possibly the latest build of Tengen Tetris before the legal action commenced.

The label reads
Property of

The game is housed in a modified Duck Hunt Cartridge.

The EPROMs are protected with a thick tape and the cartridge is glued together to prevent piracy and or duplication.

I will NOT attempt to open this cart for pictures of the board for fear it will destroy the prototype altogether. Don't even ask.

Less than a handful of these rare pre-lawsuit prototypes ever existed".
If you want to add this bad boy to your collection then you'd better have some VERY deep pockets!

You can view the Ebay auction by clicking HERE.
Watch a video of the cartridge up and running HERE.
Read more about the cartridge by visiting this Wikipedia link.

Monday, 1 October 2012

The Spectrum Show - Episode 9

Episode 9 of the impressive "Spectrum Show" goes back to November 1983, covering a selection of news stories doing the rounds at the time, including:

- The Spectrum Stick - A new joystick that doesn't require an interface, and instead, sits on top of your keyboard
- Sinclair brush away rumours of the ZX83, and announce a new development system for a future Sinclair business machine
- Macmillan join forces with Sinclair to release a series of educational titles
- A number of companies commit to supporting the Currah Microspeech Unit
- And, with Acorn's contract with the BBC due for renewal next year Sinclair declare their interest in pitching.

On to chart news, and with the Christmas season fast approaching the game charts are a frenzy of activity. Current top-selling titles include Maziacs from DK Tronics, Ant Attack from Quicksilva and Lunar Jetman from Ultimate.

This month's feature covers Galaxian clones. Boy, there were some real stinkers that ended up on shop shelves, but one or two versions are actually worth investigating further.

In the new game reviews segment Spectrum Show presenter Paul Jenkinson looks at one of his own games, "Space Disposal", a flip-screen Cybernoid style shooter, and rather nice it looks, too!

There's much more in this episode besides the above, including a segment on the truly terrible and frustrating "Jungle Fever". Perhaps the maddening "Jungle Trouble" could be a future joystick-hurling title for the show to cover?

The current episode lasts for just under 20 minutes, and can be found on YouTube by clicking HERE.