News

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Regularly updated news on all topics relevant to Armchair Arcade.
Matt Barton's picture

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.

Bill Loguidice's picture

The PC Games Business and Why Things Don't Have to Get Better

Commodore SuperPET: Photo by Bill LoguidiceCommodore SuperPET: Photo by Bill LoguidiceGamasutra has another interesting "Analyze This", this time on "The Current State of the PC Game Business". While prior to the Nintendo Entertainment System's (NES) ascension, it was common and logical to believe that computers would negate the need for a dedicated game machine, since the late 80's the trend has fully reversed where it became fashionable to say that console gaming will kill off PC gaming. While that hasn't happened and will never happen, the "Analyze This" feature does have comments from analysts that indicate that PC gaming has become and will remain a large niche in light of console dominance, which is frankly hard to argue against.

While perhaps not as bold of a statement as it once could have been, I will agree that PC gaming will never again overtake console gaming and will remain nothing more than a third or fourth option in terms of mass market/mainstream development and sales. It's actually unfair to the PC to make the comparison, because the PC is a tremendous general purpose device, while a console is primarily designed to play games. Yes, the newer the console, the more stuff it seems to be able to do - play movies, music, display photos, etc. - but it's primarily thought of and primarily used as a game player. Someone looks at a PC and does not immediately think "game machine". They think "word processor", "e-mail", "Internet", "IM", etc., or simply "COMPUTER", all likely well before they think "game machine" (save for the hardest of hardcore).

Bill Loguidice's picture

Civilization Chronicles Box Set to be released next month! Know your history indeed!

Civilization IV ScreenshotCivilization IV ScreenshotIn what is great news to those of us who have been Civilization (Civilisation for our European friends) fans since the beginning (around 1991, originals on various computer and videogame platforms), or even those who have just gotten into Civilization with the relatively recent release of IV, 2K is releasing an intriguing box set that compiles nearly every Civilization game released to date, including IV (though not the new expansion, Warlords), as well as several bonuses, including a card game and book. While a list price of $69.99 seems like a bit much, we'll no doubt be able to find it for less at retail, and truth be told, even at full list I have to say it's worth it, even if I own most of what's already on there (and even the Civilization board game!), and then some. Frankly, each and every one of these games can hook you for hours on end, providing true, limitless play value.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Video Game Collector Magazine #6 - Featuring Armchair Arcade and Bill Loguidice

NEC Turbo Duo: Photo - Bill LoguidiceNEC Turbo Duo: Photo - Bill LoguidiceWell, the narcissist in me just had to make mention of the fact that my NEC TurboGrafx-16/Duo-based interview and review is making the rounds in the very recently released (or soon to be released depending on your status), "Video Game Collector" magazine #6, Summer 2006 (they print them quarterly). It is or will be available at select retail outlets and popular online Websites, including their own, which is http://www.vgcollector.com/ .

Bill Loguidice's picture

Atari 2600 Plug 'N Play Keychain - Expect More, Get Less

Basic Fun's Officially Licensed Atari 2600 Plug 'N Play Keychain Series: {Image from the Basic Fun Website}Basic Fun's Officially Licensed Atari 2600 Plug 'N Play Keychain Series: {Image from the Basic Fun Website}While this is hardly breaking news, it's been interesting to follow some of the drama around the "Atari 2600 Plug 'N Play Keychain" series from "Basic Fun". The first part of the drama involves the company's falling out with engineer Curt Vendel, most famous for being the lead on the "Atari Flashback" and "Atari Flashback 2.0" products, and launching "Awesome Arcades". The second and more relevant part of the drama involves the simple fact that these products, amazing form factor and low price aside ($15 each), are awful simulations, seemingly ignoring all the progress made over the past few years in TV Game quality (in fact, reverting back to the NES-on-a-chip of the first Flashback, which has been proven unable to properly simulate Atari 2600 games!). Perhaps "Basic Fun" should have just went with the quality product that Curt had originally delivered for them, rather than scrapping it and doing the products on the super cheap!

While the "Atari Flashback" was a weak simulation of both the Atari 7800 and 2600 systems using the readily available NES-on-a-chip as the platform, the "Atari Flashback 2.0" rectified this by incorporating a clever Atari 2600-on-a-chip, almost perfectly emulating the original hardware. After that and the prior "Commodore 64 30-in-1" (which essentially featured a C-64-on-a-chip), it's hard to go back to the kind of innaccuracies that are present in these keychain devices. Bottom line, the bar has been raised and we truly have the right to expect more, based simply on precedent and the countless other TV Games devices out there that do offer more authentic experiences, even of latter day systems like the Sega Genesis or arcade machines.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Apple II (2) News and Notes for August 2006

Apple //c Cable Connection Photo from Brendan Robert's "Apple Game Server"Apple //c Cable Connection Photo from Brendan Robert's "Apple Game Server"

A2 News and Notes August, 2006

INDEX
* Old Computer, New Clone
* Phoenix Wings
* Solid-State Work
* Another Anniversary
* We're Number 1!
* Prairie Home Changeover
* Plug In, Tune Out?
* Hacking Around
* File Storage
* Software News

Bill Loguidice's picture

EA to Re-release an Original Ultima for the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP)?!

Sony's PSPSony's PSPFor $20, Electronic Arts plans to release the following games on one UMD disc for the PSP: B.O.B., Road Rash II, Budokan, Road Rash III, Desert Strike, Syndicate, Jungle Strike, Ultima: The Black Gate, Haunting Starring Polterguy, Virtual Pinball, Mutant League Football, Wing Commander, Road Rash, and Wing Commander: Secret Missions.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Time Pilot - Xbox Live Arcade Wednesdays and other thoughts on the Xbox 360

Microsoft Xbox 360Microsoft Xbox 360Well, I'm behind in my updates for Xbox Live Arcade Wednesdays. I missed "Pac-Man" and "Texas Hold'em", and just yesterday was "Time Pilot", a personal favorite of mine back from the ColecoVision days.

"Pac-Man" is a straight up port that unfortunately does not translate well to the Xbox 360 gamepad, as most games of that type don't to post-Atari pack-in style controllers. Some arcade controllers are coming soon, so that should help with these, but for now, "Pac-Man" is well-done and as with all these games, worth it for the competitive and scoring/leaderboard aspects, but I'll be holding off until I get a hold of one of those controllers. And again, aside from the online competitive comparisons and points for my Gamertag, I have a wonderful MAME arcade machine that plays the game better than any system short of the real machine.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Thoughts on the Digital Game Board

The Philips Entertaible Digital Board Gaming Surface: Photo from PC Magazine onlineThe Philips Entertaible Digital Board Gaming Surface: Photo from PC Magazine onlinePC Magazine, reporting on news from the Internationale Funkausstellung, a consumer electronics show in Berlin, revealed that Philips will show off the Entertaible, a digital board-gaming surface, on Friday.

We've of course recently seen over the past several years the rise of virtual physical games, if you want to call them that, mostly in "arcades" (if even those can be called that anymore). Essentially these games take real world concepts like shuffleboard or bowling, and use partial physical items, like paddles or pucks, that are utilized on a flat, virtual surface, and interact with an impact sensor at the end of the table to make something happen on the video screen, preferably accurately reflecting what would happen if it were an all physical setup. There's also been quite a bit of controversy in the pinball world, where these virtual machines take the form factor of traditional pinball machines, but do the majority of their work via a video screen. This allows for infinitely configurable tables, but is it still really pinball, or more akin to what we play on our computers and videogame systems? In any case, the revolution, if you want to call it that, has been well under way.

Matt Barton's picture

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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