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BASF Demonstrated Apple's iPad in 1986!

AtariAge forum member "Yak" made an interesting discovery when browsing through the June 1986 issue of BYTE magazine. On page 142 is a classic advertisement from BASF with what appears to feature an oversized tablet computer. Heck, even if you think it looks like a regular touch screen monitor (which was likely the intention), it sure looks like a modern day LCD rather than a CRT tube, doesn't it? Thanks to AtariAge forum member "ThumpNugget" for cleaning up the scanned image and making it available. Be sure to click on the picture below and then select "Original" to see it full size.
BYTE, June 1986, Page 142BYTE, June 1986, Page 142

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Playing ICBM Attack Using the MESS Bally Astrocade Emulator

Adam Trionfo, who runs Bally Alley, a Website dedicated to the "Bally Astrocade" family of systems, has posted an excellent how-to written by him and Paul Thacker. The how-to explains how to play the Astrocade's ICBM Attack, which was released in 1982 by third party developer Spectre Systems. What makes this Missile Command-inspired game special is that it requires the Spectre ICBM Attack Handle, an analog controller that was released in even more limited quantities than the cartridge game it was designed. Naturally, this makes playing ICBM Attack near impossible, which is where the MESS emulator comes in. Using MESS, you can emulate the functionality of the analog controller using mouse, trackball, Xbox 360 controller or any other similar analog device. Check out the PDF of the how-to here. For those interested in the Astrocade platform, be sure to check out Bally Alley or join the Yahoo Group mailing list.

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A Review of the OnLive MicroConsole and Service

OnLiveOnLiveAs we've been discussing for a few months now, the OnLive service is quite intriguing, promising the ability for anyone with a quality Internet connection to play high end PC games on even modest PC's or Mac's, including netbooks. As I discussed recently in an unboxing video, the company has gone one step further and released a system of their own for $99, dubbed the OnLive MicroConsole, which is a miniature device that plugs into your TV via HDMI and allows you to play those same high end PC games from the comfort of your couch. I've had some time over the past few days to put the MicroConsole through its paces and I thought now would be as good of a time as any to provide a review of my experiences so far.

First off, it's important to remember that OnLive is a streaming service, and as such is highly dependent upon the quality of your Internet connection. While it does work over wireless, the variables inherent therein make even wireless-N connections sometimes less-than-ideal to play these games over. While it does work, graphical fidelity is reduced when there are connection issues, just like when Netflix streaming drops to lower quality when you're watching a movie or TV show. Only when network performance drops below a certain threshold (again, just like with Netflix) does the service stop working completely. In my experiments with my laptop, while I had a few drops in fidelity, for the most part it performed well over my standard wireless-N connection, though it's not something I'd necessarily recommend as a long term solution. Regardless, I was able to pretty much freely play Borderlands Game of the Year edition - which was my choice of free game for ordering a Microconsole - just as if it was installed natively on my gaming-optimized laptop.

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Amiga Forever 2011 and C64 Forever 2011 Released!

Amiga Forever DesktopAmiga Forever DesktopCloanto has released the latest versions of their popular and easy-to-use Amiga Forever and C64 Forever emulators. This is great news for old and new fans of the greatest Commodore platforms, including all versions of the Amiga series (inclusive of the CDTV and CD32), and most of the 8-bit line, including PET, VIC 20, C-64/128, and C-16/Plus4. Around here, it's among our absolute favorite emulation packages and used as pack-ins with various devices, including the MCC, so you know it has to be great.

The full press release details are below, along with all the links to the various packages available:

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"Commodore USA" Makes Proper Use of the Name with New Version Commodore 64 PC

Though I've been highly critical of Commodore USA in the past for their questionable business practices and use of the Commodore brand, it looks like their latest project is actually a noble one--recreating the Commodore 64 as a modern day PC. While it's clear those are merely high quality renders, they did also post some prototype photos from a plastic printer. While Commodore USA does not have the scalability to offer reasonable pricing, I certainly commend their efforts this time around. As just one example of the usefulness of this forthcoming product, if you're a hardcore Commodore 64 homebrew programmer, there would probably be no better way than to run an emulator on this computer and hack away with a highly usable version of the original keyboard.

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Six New Atari 2600 VCS Cartridges Released! Includes 3D and Amiga Joyboard support...

The six games for the Atari 2600 VCS are: 3D Ghost Attack!, 3D Genesis, 3D Havoc, Atom Smasher, Depth Charge, and S.A.C. Alert. The 3D games are the first and only 3D games for the platform (they come with paper glasses), Depth Charge was originally designed to be the first head-to-head game where each player has their own console and TV, and S.A.C. Alert was meant to be used with the Amiga Joyboard, the horrible joystick platform you stood on and whose only game actually released was the skiing game, Mogul Maniac. Keep in mind that these six games from the early 1980s are all in various states of completion and Video Soft is rather vague about how playable each one is. Prices range from $30 to $50 plus shipping and handling (if you buy the full $230 set, shipping is free), and each of the six games is limited to a production run of 100 copies, which includes a cartridge, manual and box. Apparently after a particular game sells out, the ROM will be made available to everyone. I'll leave it to this snippet from the Video Soft Website to provide a bit more detail:

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Time Magazine's Top 10 Video Games of 2010 - Actually a Pretty Good Attempt...

The Time Website is junk and the organization of the list is painful, so I've listed the top 10 here for your viewing convenience. Number 1 is certainly a surprise, though I must say overall it's a fairly thoughtful list, even if there are some titles I don't readily agree with (coming from me who is generally down on "best of" lists, that's actually fairly high praise). To see the full descriptions, be sure to visit Time's Website (good luck with that):

01 Alan Wake (Xbox 360)
02 Angry Birds (Android, iOS)
03 Red Dead Redemption (PS3, Xbox 360)
04 Halo: Reach (Xbox 360)
05 Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)
06 Limbo (Xbox 360)
07 Super Meat Boy (Macintosh, Wii, Windows, Xbox 360)
08 Super Street Fighter IV (Arcade, 3DS, PS3, Xbox 360)
09 Starcraft II (Macintosh, Windows)
10 Mass Effect 2 (PS3, Windows, Xbox 360)

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Unboxing Video for the OnLive Console

I did a quick unboxing video for the new OnLive Console. I'll do a full review after Christmas, but if you have any questions in the mean-time, let me know (by the way, the USB cable is for the initial syncing of the controller to the console, it doesn't actually allow you to charge it).

UPDATE: The controller is actually slightly larger than the Xbox 360 controller and it comes with both a regular battery compartment and two AA batteries, as well as a rechargeable battery pack. So a nice package is even a bit nicer.

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The Humble Indie Bundle #2 - Another Amazing Deal for Windows, Macintosh and Linux Gamers!

Back in May of this year, I talked about the great deal that was The Humble Indie Bundle, where you could name your own price for a collection of great indie games for Windows, Macintosh and Linux, and actually own them free and clear (read: No DRM!). The best part? Proceeds went to the charity of your choice. Now, The Humble Indie Bundle #2 is out, and, luckily, it works the same amazing way, just with a new selection of games: Braid (one of my favorites on the Xbox 360 and a strong case for videogames as art!), Cortex Command, Machinarium, Osmos, and Revenge of the Titans. So, what are you waiting for? Whip out that Paypal, Amazon or Google account and get gaming!

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Extended Comments from Tetris Interview

As mentioned last week, my commentary as part of the Vilcek Foundation's article on Tetris and its creator, Alexey Pajitnov, was published. As also mentioned - and something that I typically like to do anyway - I said I would publish the extended commentary that did not fit in the article. Check it out below, where the questioner is Joyce Li and the answers were supplied by me, Bill Loguidice:

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