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Matt Barton's picture

The Story of The Wizard's Castle

Exidy SorcererExidy SorcererOne of the great things about writing a book is that you get to hear so many interesting stories. One of the best I've heard so far involves a very, very early game for the Exidy Sorcerer named The Wizard's Castle. Although programmed by Joe Power a few years earlier (in the mid 1970s), the game wasn't officially released until 1980, when it was printed as source code in Recreational Computing magazine. It's been ported to several other platforms (by Power and others). Eventually it was played by Derell L., who prefers to go by his nickname "Derelict." Derelict converted the game for Windows and added sprite-based graphics (you can download it here). Anyway, I had the chance to talk to both Joe and Derelict about their games, and have decided to print them here for your enjoyment! Note that I haven't edited these interviews--I didn't have to!

Destructoid Interviews Co-Owner of Retro-Arcade Ground Kontrol

Ground Kontrol Bar: The bar Ground Kontrol also features a smattering of retro consoles for sale.Ground Kontrol Bar: The bar Ground Kontrol also features a smattering of retro consoles for sale.

Somewhat goofy gaming blog Destructoid recently featured an article on a great retro-arcade in Portland, Oregon called Ground Kontrol. The interview with Anthony Ramos, the co-owner, is brief, but makes a good point-- is having a retro-arcade/bar combination the best way for the next generation of arcades to live on?

Since I live in Portland, Ground Kontrol is not too far from me. It's a lot of fun and pretty cheap-- I think all the games are either 25 or 50 cents to play. They feature titles as old as Asteroids or Tron and have a 2nd floor full of pinball games ranging from a simplistic Star Trek board from the 70's to a ultra-complicated Lords of the Rings pinball table. Well worth the visit if anyone stops by in Portland.

Action Button features Intelligent Ultra Negative Reviews

Action Button is a recent video game review blog that reminds one of Howard Beale from the 1976 flick Network-- they're mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore! The reviews are honest, harsh, and to the point, if a bit full of florid vocabulary.

Their modus operandi, according to their "about" page, is rather lengthy, but it boils down to being rather refreshing-- "We're going to play games for a bare minimum of two hours each and we'll let you know when, where, and why we stop playing; a great game should make us forget our day job."

Let's take a look at a few excerpts from some of Action Button's reviews. One thing I appreciate about them is that they don't give a good review unless they mean it.

Retro Gaming Hacks is Worth a Look

I just finished reading Chris Kohler's new book Retro Gaming Hacks and I have to say I enjoyed it a good deal. Topics range from how to run a variety of emulators on your PC to how to do introductory level programming for the GBA. While a lot of the information is rather basic, I learned a few things about older consoles and PCs from the book.

The writing in here is noticeably better than in Kohler's other book, Power Up!, though part of this might be because large portions of the book are written by other contributors. Kohler's writing is more confident and has a nice playful tone that is not unlike the style of writing done for this very site.

Online Vidcast Coin Op TV Mostly Fun, But Needs Polish

As I sit in an Internet Cafe in Tokyo, I decided to take advantage of the high bandwidth and check out a bunch of episodes of the popular online vidcast, Coin Op TV!.

As you can guess from the title, it covers retro games.

For the most part, it is well produced. All the episodes involve reporting on the field using decent quality microphones and have camerawork that is fairly decent. Editing of the segments is a bit plain at times, which is ironically somewhat refreshing-- no avant garde editing techniques here!

More Weekly Famitsu 20th Anniversary Madness!

Just picked up the latest issue of Famitsu Weekly and I am pleased to see they are still doing some retro coverage in their 20th Anniversary sections. The supplementary booklet this time around focuses on games from 1998-2005 with less detail than in the previous issue, but it's still interesting for a glance at what games were popular in Japan.

The Games History section focuses on a variety of sports genres in video games, giving several examples of each. It makes me want to buy a better Japanese dictionary when I get home so I can try some translating, although my Japanese grammar skills aren't great! Among the more curious types of sports games mentioned are Fishing Games and Winter Sports Games.

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