Matt Barton's blog

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Mr. Roger's Plays Donkey Kong, Heirloom PC Cases, Best of Sega Master, C-64 Games on the Wii

Mr. Rogers: What, you thought Mr. Rogers wasn't into gaming?Mr. Rogers: What, you thought Mr. Rogers wasn't into gaming?I've been so busy lately that I haven't been able to keep up with my blog reading...And boy, have I missed some cool stuff. Let me run through some of the most interesting posts. First off, from Kotaku comes this snippet of A Mr. Roger's Neighborhood episode featuring Donkey Kong. Fred Rogers reveals himself to be a true hacker, asking not just to play the game but to see inside the box to see how it works. Fun! And, by the way, anyone who thinks Fred Rogers was a pedo is truly sick. Next up, Racketboy runs through the best games for Sega's Master System, starting off with Phantasy Star. Psycho Fox, anyone? Thirdly, buried in this site is an announcement that Epyx will be releasing some of its C-64 titles for the Wii. Sorry, no titles as of yet...!

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Will the PS3 be backwards compatible with Genesis?

One of the major selling points for Nintendo's Wii system (at least for retrogamers) is its ability to easily play games from older Nintendo systems. For awhile, it seemed like Sony's PS3 system would counter by offering gamers access to the Sega Genesis/Megadrive lineup. Worthplaying is now reporting that this may not be the case after all, and that Sony is only "considering" this option.

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Midway Offers Free Online Arcade Games--Satan's Hollow, Sinistar, Robotron, and more!

I have some info that's sure to please many folks here at Armchair Arcade: Midway is offering ten classic games playable for free right in your browser. These conversions use Macromedia Shockwave to very good effect--there's even support for joysticks.

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A Review of Broken Sword 3: The Sleeping Dragon

Broken Sword 3Broken Sword 3Revolution's third entry in its popular Broken Sword series, The Sleeping Dragon, released in 2003, is one of the best graphical adventure games I've played to date. The game manages to combine charismatic characters, dramatic action sequences, clever puzzles, and an intuitive interface--all into a lengthy and thoroughly engrossing game. Although I wasn't as impressed with the first Broken Sword game, I'm pleased to say that the third game is a must-have for fans of the graphic adventure.

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New Freeware Sword of Fargoal Remake

Fans of Jeff McCord's classic Sword of Fargoal will be pleased to hear of a new freeware remake called Dungeons of Fargoal. I'm not sure how this version stacks up with the authorized shareware remake ($10 for Mac or Windows), but if you're up for some fairly addictive hack and slash, here's your chance. I'll never forget those creepy sounds on the C-64 version...Duuuunnn dum. Duuuuuun dum. Try out the remake and let us know what you think! Link via Indepedent Gaming.

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Videogame Voters Network: The Political Machine (for real this time)

I've been reading today about the Video Game Voters Network, an online effort to unite videogamers against the threat of hysteria-riding, deliberately misinformed politicians like Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman. The VGVN's mission is to "empower Americans who play video games to take action against threats to this entertainment medium and to stay informed about the latest issues that could affect our choice in video game entertainment." I expect that initiatives like this will become ever more necessary as two generations collide: A majority of working adults who grew up a controller in their hand and an older generation of older politicians who just don't get it and never will. I don't know about you, but I'm scared to think how much damage a generation of hysterical luddites could wreak upon the gaming industry.

On a smaller scale, though, all of us could help out just by speaking up for games and letting our older family members know that there's nothing to worry about--it's just a few desperate politicians groping for power and seizing it wherever they can find folks gullible enough to listen. Check it out on the Daily Show.

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The Game of Dialog: Simulating Conversation in Games

Although games have certainly come a long way since the days of Spacewar! and William Crowther's Adventure, the great bulk of these advancements have been in the realm of graphics. Games definitely look a lot more sophisticated than they ever have before. However, one area that is still painfully lacking in games is artificial intelligence, particulary regarding dialog between players and computer-controlled characters. What I intend to do here is discuss a few approaches game developers have taken to address this issue--and why sometimes less is more.

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Reflections on Black Mirror: Or What Makes Bad GAGs Bad

Unknown Identity's Black Mirror, published in the US by the Adventure Company in 2003, is one of those rare games that's just good enough to make you hate the fact that it's so unplayable. It's like one of those movies that's hopelessly boring and banal, but nevertheless, there's something about it that makes you realize it could've been a great movie (think Dungeons & Dragons). Black Mirror is the second game I've played by Unknown Identity, a Czech developer also responsible for the travesty Nibiru (it's no wonder why they want to keep their real identity a secret). These graphical adventure games have much in common: The stories are fascinating, the graphics are absolutely gorgeous, and the ambience is outstanding. However, they all suffer from wretched puzzles, unbelievably horrid voice acting, poorly translated dialogue, and an abundance of pixel hunting. What I intend to do here is review and analyze Black Mirror. I'm hoping some benevolent soul will translate it into Czech (along with Ron Gilbert's essay on bad games). Otherwise, we might very well see another Unknown Identity product on the shelf, and the GAG genre is hurting enough as it is.

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A Look at Bad Fighting Games on the Genesis

Matthew Williamson has a funny column up at GameSetWatch called 'Parallax Memories' – The B-Fighters. This time, he looks at some pretty rancid fighting games for the Sega Genesis, including Primal Rage and Eternal Champions. "2D fighters are all but extinct now and many of these games are the reason why." Hmm...I must admit, I never understood the appeal of this genre of games. A couple thugs beating each other up with fake looking "martial arts" and the occasional fireball. Am I missing something here?

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The Initial State: A Text Adventure by Matt Barton

It's definitely no secret that I've been working on a text adventure game. At least, it hasn't been a secret to anyone around here, what with so few of my friends actually seeing the front of my face after a summer spent coding! Though my primary task was to learn C++ by creating a simple text adventure engine, I also put quite a bit of work into actually crafting a game with this engine. The name of this game is "Initial State," and I'm making it available for download.

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