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!

Livestream 8/11/2022 – Dark Reign

The RTS genre hit a true boom in the mid/late 90s. While there had been several games that came before the craze following the release of Command & Conquer and Warcraft II in 1995, these really set the standard of what we could expect. You now had an expectation of being able to select multiple units at the same time and issuing them orders by a simple click. Thinking back to Dune 2, arguably one of the first modern RTSs, it seems incredibly primitive now. Of course when it came out it was a revelation and was very successul.

Westwood and Blizzard would be the gold standard developers for the genre for quite some time. There were many attempts to cash in on the craze, with varied success. Activison published the game Dark Reign in 1997, letting the developer Auron take a whack at it. The game saw quite the hype cycle and I remember seeing full page spread ads saying how it was “The Future of War”. Featuring advanced AI, terrain and elevation, as well as cut scenes and tons of units, it was supposed to be the be all end all RTS. And it was quite successful as far as I’m aware but there was also another small entry into the field in 1997: Total Annihilation.

So while Dark Reign did an amazing job with the sprite based graphics, the first entry in the “3D” generation of RTSs had arrived. It may be the reason this somewhat flew under the radar for me but it has all the components in it to provide a great RTS experience. Check out the replay below and see what you think!

Livestream 8/5/2022 – Amiga Floppy Testing

The Amiga home computer left a lasting impression on everyone that came across it back in the 80s. Here was a computer, at an affordable price, that offered gaming and multimedia capabilities far beyond what we had seen at the time. Using a set of custom chips, it had 16-bit graphics with tons of colors, scaling options and an awesome sound. It’s easy to look at it now and think it’s a bit outdate, but keep in mind this was out years before even the Genesis/Mega Drive hit the market. It was sold concurrently with the NES, yet could do quite a bit more!

My neighbor got an Amiga 500 early on release so that was most of my exposure to it back when. Also something that was standard with the Amiga scene was the rampant copying of software. I don’t think we realized games actually game on anything except blank floppies with hand scrawled notes telling us about the contents. So a while back I came across a lot of original floppies for my collection. Something that is quite rare and to determine which ones worked or not I decided to start up a stream about it! We tested a whole bunch of them and while the success to failure rate was in the range of 60-40, it was still a good time. The fact that any of these floppies still worked after over 30 years is something else!

I had some challenges getting this stream ready on a technical level but it was still super fun. Check out the replay below!