Livestream 10/6/22 – Swedish PC Gamer January 97

Someone asked me about doing another magazine read through and showing off some of the cover disc demos again like we had done before. When they also mentioned it had been a year since we did it the last time I was a bit blown away. It felt like it was just a few weeks ago!

No time to lose obviously, so I brought out my trusty Pentium 166 MMX again which is very era appropriate for the January 97 timeframe this magazine was published. It is a huge round of nostalgia for me, personally, to go through this since I read this cover to cover as a kid (teenager). I got most of my gaming news, reviews and industry insights from magazines just like PC Gamer. While the US version of the magazine had even more content, seeing one that was local to my region was a treat. I subscribed to it for a few years so expect to see more of these in the future.

For now check out the replay below where we go through the magazine, remember the era fondly and lastly try out some of the games on the cover disc.

Livestream 9/30/2022 – Simon the Sorcerer

During the 80s and 90s it was hard to argue the hold that Lucasarts and Sierra had with their adventure games. While many different companies tried different approaches to the classic, point and click, adventure style those 2 companies had the market nearly cornered. That’s not to say there weren’t other studios making excellent games in the genre but bring names like Monkey Island, or King’s Quest up and you see what I mean.

One studio trying to show their take on the genre was Adventure Soft. They created the irreverant teenager Simon to star in their game. The game has Simon, being bored with his homework, get accidentally transported into a fantasy world trying to find a way to get home again. Featuring what I’d call very British humor, it’s an incredibly solid addition to the genre. The gameplay follows the Lucasarts mold where you don’t have any game over screens (looking at you Quest games), and actions are done through a list of verbs at the bottom of the screen.

The art is gorgeous, the puzzles mostly make sense and the humor really is befitting the game. All in all if you enjoy point and click adventure games from the 90s this is one to definitely check out. We played my original copy of the game which is the CD, “talkie” version. This replaces all the text found on other versions with a fully voiced soundtrack. It’s still a fun game so check out the replay below!

Livestream 9/15/2022 – Tandy 1000 SL

It’s September yet again which brings the recurrent event SepTandy. Each yeah content creators celebrate and covers all things around the computers and items produced by the company Tandy. The computers were manufactured and sold by RadioShack for a large portion of the 80s, mostly in the US but distributed across the world as well. Many games featured explicit support for the Tandy 1000 series of computers and they saw wide adoption. As close to consumer PC standard as we got for the era, all things considered.

The Tandy 1000 line of computers did have a few unique things going for them. They had a special TGA, or Tandy Graphics Adapter, video card that was integrated. To the best of my understanding this was an expansion of the CGA standard (remember the… special magenta and cyan combo) that instead provided a full 16 colors. Until EGA and eventually VGA became standards TGA was quite advanced. Originally starting as a PCJr video standard Tandy took it over once that system became a flop.

There was also a special audio setup for the 1000 series computers that allowed 3 separate voices (plus one noise channel) to be played at the same time. Compare this to the PC speaker of the time and it added an entirely new layer to audio. It’s quite similar to how the Sega Master System sounded, and they share many similarities. Not all games supported all the features but for those that did, the games could be considered the superior version until later standards came along.

It’s a really neat platform to explore with many options, my 1000 SL being one of them. We had a lot of fun playing some Tandy enhanced games for the livestream so check out the replay below.

Livestream 9/1/2022 – Macintosh Quadra 610

In the lot of Macs I picked up recently was a Quadra 610. A fairly run of the mill computer from Apple around the early/mid 90s. While it may not have stood out much at the time it was one of the later 68k Macs. That is to say it’s right before Apple switched over to the RISC based CPU architecture that gave us the PowerPC platform that they stuck with for some time after.

The Quadra 610 then is something that likely sat in many classrooms as well as homes. It’s a capable machine that could likely be considered a 486 equivalent, to give you an idea on the performance. That said it had a multitude of games available. Many written for Mac games, like Marathon, and also plenty of ports, like Sim City 2000. It’s a machine that is ripe with nostalgia and neat experiences.

It was a bit of a work to get all the files I needed transferred to the computer but the stream ended up being a blast. One of the highlights was that the composer to the music in Tetrix Maxx (look it up, it’s awesome) dropped in! I’ve loved the music used there for a long time so that was quite a treat to have him visit. We also discovered that the music in the Monkey Island port for Mac is… well it’s not great. Setting the music to the lowest level of “Good”, was something else though. I won’t spoil just how truly horrible it sounds so find it in the video below.

Game Boy Screen Upgrade

The original Game Boy was quite the device. A clever use of off the shelf parts really cut down on costs. It paled on a spec sheet compared to devices such as the Atari Lynx, or the Sega Game Gear which both offered full color screens. However the Game Boy with the lower price point and huge software support was a smash hit. Nintendo sold over 60 million units when all was said and done.

Growing up I recall virtually all the households that had an interest in video games had one. It was well loved and regarded by many (perhaps not the Game Gear fans). But even though it was popular there is no denying the shortcomings. For me personally, and I bet many, that is the screen. It’s an era appropriate TFT screen with an abysmal refresh rate. With no backlighting either getting just the right amount of light to play was a problem. I think anyone who had, or has, the Game Boy knows the struggle to find the right spot to play.

Since the Game Boy was so successful there is thankfully a huge interest in the after market modding scene. Tons of different screen replacements and upgrades have come and gone. But it feels like we finally hit the sweet spot with kits like the Funnyplaying V2 one. Featuring a fully modern IPS panel with a great refresh rate and clarity, it blows the original screen out of the water. Coupled that with very close to stock reproduction cases and we have a chance to build the “ultimate” Game Boy from our youths. As in this is what you might remember the system as. Which makes this a phenomenal update to a dear old friend. Check out the video on my upgrade journey!