Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
Captain Rufus
Sep 16, 2005

CAPTAIN WORD SALAD

OFF MY MEDS AGAIN PLEASE DON'T USE BIG WORDS

UNNECESSARY LINE BREAK

Retro Computer Gaming: Part 1: Overview

Retro gaming. It is popular as heck these days. Loose copies of Super Nintendo titles are going for big money, some like Earthbound can fetch double if not TRIPLE original MSRP in spite of the game having been clearance priced in the mid 90s for being a failure with the general pre Internet gaming audience. Rare games like unauthorized third party titles or short run releases like the final Sega Saturn games in the USA command enough to pay one's bills for the month.

But when you look online the old school gaming discussion is mostly NES-N64 era for the English speaking western world's 20-30 something folk, and the Atari 2600 for the 30-40 set.

(Well those who are happy to spend time blabbing about old games. The REALLY wealthy retro folk also talk about arcade games. But as someone who works in a casino I see people willing to spend entirely too much money being kind of foolish every day.)

Yet... for many of us it wasn't gaming consoles that provided us most of our enjoyment of games back in the old days.

You will hear a lot of folks from Europe and the UK talking about Commodore and Sinclair. And a small but generally annoyed group of US folks who inwardly sigh whenever the only old RPGs brought up seem to be an endless worship of Final Fantasy, or maybe Dragon Quest & Phantasy Star if they are classy.

(And we won't even get into the Earthbound fanbase. I'd love to own a legit copy but y'all have pushed that game into a ridiculous price level for how common it is.)

There were other game systems people played on besides consoles.

They were computers.

Those things kids got their parents to buy them "to help with their homework" but were really bought to play all sorts of boss games, usually copied off someone else due to difficulty at finding these games (nothing has changed sadly), and the fact that kids & teens are amoral greedy little self entitled shites. Just like adults.

Why would I want to get into playing games on old computers?

Well... IT'S FUN.

Old computers were a lot of fun to work with. They required more effort and intelligence to use than consoles. You normally didn't just plug a controller in, plug the power supply in, then connect an RF or RCA cable to the TV set. You had disk drives and tape drives to connect. Volume controls to adjust perfectly so that 20 minute tape load wouldn't give you an error message. All sorts of awesome peripherals to both make your machine better.

And you could actually do some proper work with them too.

To use an old computer when new and now is the difference between just driving a modern car with whatever options you like already in place, and buying an older car and working on it. Giving it a kick rear end stereo. Driving stick for total control. Tweaking almost everything with parts.

Sure lots of swearing and the odd cuts and bruises happen as a result but.. its more fulfilling.

There is also History. If you are interested in the history of electronic gaming retro computing isn't optional, it is REQUIRED. So many genres, game styles, and even legendary companies got their start on computers. Outside of Activision, most of the trailblazers were working on computer games. Retro console darlings Rare and Bungie began life making games on the Spectrum and the Macintosh respectively. Hell, Jack Tramiel's decisions when he took over Atari had direct influence on console gaming's rebirth into the billion dollar level industry it is today!

The first real time strategy games. The first RPGs. The first survival horrors. Online multiplayer games. Action adventures. You name it and computer gaming probably did it first. You just didn't hear about it, and modern gamers, the gaming press, and even most retrogaming discussions tend to forget or ignore it all as if nothing mattered if it wasn't on a console.

Retro Computing: Why Bother? Part 2: Terminology and Technology

Ok kids. Here is where things get hairy. Retro Game Computing, just like computing in general, is a bit of a pain. Unlike game consoles which at their most complicated normally involve just getting an old tv, a game system from wherever the heck you are playing it at, some cartridges (or CDs), and plugging system to wall, controller to system, shoving game in the appropriate spot, and system to TV usually with RCA or RF cables, computers are much more in depth.

(Unless your computer is a portable one, or your console is a full Sega Genesis with CD and either 32x or Master System Converter.)

There are many computer types in the old days, and even more types of connectors and such.

Consider this your primer of terminology so we have an idea where to go.

First off you need to figure out WHERE you are playing your games and WHERE your games are coming from.

See for us English language folks there are really 3 places to be aware of. North America and Japan which both use the same NTSC television output and have roughly the same power cords and voltages. (Though it is HIGHLY recommended to get a convertor or voltage regulator if you plan on using Japanese machines in the US for more than an hour at a time.) However in Europe their voltage and plugs tend to be different and they have the PAL and SECAM TV formats. (PAL being the big one.)

PAL games don't always work on US computers. In many cases they will either run too fast (hello Genesis port of Shadow of the Beast!), not work at all, or due to the resolution differences between the two regions, video may be discolored or go beyond the screen.

(In my Amiga days a convertor disk would allow many PAL programs to run on my NTSC Amiga but on my 19" TV set some programs would have 10% or so of the image out of the screen, making Pinball Dreams a bit difficult. Now with a monitor you can adjust image size and prevent this.)

If you want to know about the joys of getting a UK computer system like the Sinclair Spectrum (which I insist is only beloved in the UK due to Stockholm Syndrome) I highly recommend this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqnIa4rXK_c&list=PLFDCFCDFCF7E7ACDD&index=7&feature=plpp_video .

This is something to keep in mind.

But we will be talking about a lot of hardware and connections in this series/thread so we need more terminology. Some of it I will go into greater depth in my Atari 8 bit coverage. Plus you know.. its a thread. Fill in where I miss. I want to talk old computer games not just blab about.

First off.. computer keyboards. In the 77-97 timeframe I think makes for the age of retro computing (meaning Windows 98 is out even though its a mostly superior version of Win 95 and if anyone is interested in old Wintel era computers I would HIGHLY recommend it over 95..) there were really 3 big formats of keyboard.


The "standard" keyboard, in this case a PS/2 connector version from the Win 9x era.

A standard keyboard is most like a typewriter keyboard. More of the upscale computers used them. You will find these in IBM clones, Commodore computers, most of the Atari 8 and STs, the Apple machines, and pretty much any machine that was halfway decent. Some came built into the machine and others were detachable. Many people STILL swear by the keyboard that came with the original IBM PC from 1981.


The "membrane" keyboard on an Atari 400. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Membrane keyboards tended to be on the cost reduced home computers made for children and families. They were cheaper to make and more durable than a proper keyboard. They also sucked royal rear end for typing as you needed to use more pressure than a real keyboard plus no real tactile feedback. On the upside they were pretty survivable. Spill a little coffee on your modern Mac keyboard? You are screwed. Spill some on this? Soft cloth. (And maybe like, turn the machine off and unplug it. Just in case.)


The "chicklet" keyboard on a Sinclair Spectrum. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Chicklet keyboards were a half measure between a proper keyboard and a membrane. More tactile feedback than a membrane, more survivable than a proper keyboard, cheaper than a full keyboard. But.. its a half measure as I said. Have you used those older calculators with rubber keys? Imagine coding on one or writing a college term paper. Yeah. They tend to have smaller than normal keys too.

If you retro game compute those 3 keyboard types will be the ones you see and hear about the most. Thankfully the proper keyboard won out. (Though these days we have a wide variety of keyboards doing all sorts of things. So.. its back to square 1 again.)

Also most old computers had non universal game ports and controllers for such. As this is about GAMING on the old computers I won't really go into detail about the joys of mice or paint tablets or such but they too exist.

In the short run there were 3 main types of controller for games (and a fourth if we count the mouse which ok yes. Mice too.)

Digital:

A pair of digital joysticks using the Atari 9 pin connector. A genuine 2600 stick and a late Amiga era Konix Speedking (Epyx 500 XJ) with 2 fire buttons.

Digital sticks were most popular with the true home computers. Normally having 4-8 way directional control when the stick was pushed in a cardinal direction with 1 fire button, most 80s computers had these as the standard. While thanks to some companies like Sega we got multi button sticks and pads towards the end of the 80s, most games only know of a single button. (Which is why so many UK computer platform games have pressing UP on the stick as jump. Which on the Epyx stick above feels RIGHT, on a Sega Master System Control Pad it does not.) These digital sticks aren't too great for games that could use analog control like racing or flight simulators, but for action and arcade titles they were pretty good. When games started requiring more than one fire button hilarious things were done like using the keyboard (which in the case of many C64 games folks would take the computer, unplug it all, put it on the floor, plug it all back in, take off your shoes, and use your foot to hit the space bar!), making dongles for multistick games (great if you have 2 of the exact brand stick the item was made for..), or even things like the Lipstik which was a headset that would give you an extra fire button if you made a noise into it.

(This is why a single handed joystick that looks like a trigger with either a button on the top of the stick or the front, and a suction cup base is a HIGHLY recommended purchase. One hand can control the stick, the other can manipulate keyboard commands. One doesn't always have a NUMBER TWO you can give orders to in Star Raiders. Plus its sort of nasty to stick the Epyx stick in your mouth while playing Ghostbusters because you NEED to be ready to hit that damned BAIT key when Stay Puft shows up. I can neither confirm nor deny that I do this in spite of having at least 1 of these sort of suction cup sticks.)

There were SOME analog controllers as well such as Paddles and Trackballs. (And Mice of course.)

Edit with some info thanks to h_double:
A correction from your first post, though: trackballs (and mice) are digital, not analog. An analog controller (like a flight stick) contains a potentiometer (aka a variable resistor) on each axis, which transmits a variable amount of voltage over a discrete range. That is, it has a hard-wired minimum and maximum value, and the controller physically cannot move beyond those limits.

Trackballs have a sensor mechanism on each axis, usually a rotating disc that simply sends digital pulses of "+1" or "-1" as the ball is rolled in that direction. A mechanical (ball) mouse works the same way, it is exactly like if you flipped a trackball upside down and rolled it around by the ball part. These mechanisms are broadly known as rotary encoders, and have the advantage there is no "stopping point", you can roll or spin them an unlimited amount in one direction.

Paddles are a little tricky because most paddles (like the Atari 2600 and old PONG games) are analog, but there are some "paddles" like the Tempest spinner which are free-spinning digital encoders.


(Close enough by my original thoughts but its worth noting the above.)


A paddle (in this case a TV GAME paddle but a paddle nonetheless. Note the RCA cable when we get to video! ) and a Track Ball.

These were used for games that needed analog controls. Not very popular or well utilized because not as many people had them. But for the games that took advantage of these more analog devices they played far better than a digital joystick could ever control. For games like Arkanoid, Missile Command, and Kaboom!, these sorts of controllers made all the difference.

While most of the old computers use the Atari 9 pin interface I have shown above, some require an interface to plug said sticks into (like many of the Spectrum line) unless you want to have to play with the keyboard, others use a "DIN" connector if not their own proprietary connections.


A NEC Turbostick (yes its a console controller. But its a good example dammit!) showing off a pair of DIN connectors.

Of course on the IBM PCs and Apple IIs the main input were Analog joysticks. Normally having two fire buttons, analog sticks had.. well they do what analog sticks do today. Except they required calibration by adjusting the X/Y dials on the controller. For flight games they were excellent. For precision arcade action they.. were not so good. Which is why for many people in the days they just used the handy keyboard controls. (Really easy on most IBM clones as they have those handy arrow keys.) I do not have a standard analog controller but I do have a Flight Stick type:


A CH Flightstick (Normal version, not the 4 button and "hat" Pro edition sadly) with late DOS era joystick connector. Note the throttle dial on one side (that few games ever acknowledged), and the calibration dial on the other. This stick lead me to victory in many a classic title. Kilrathi and enemy Battlemechs all fell to this stick's near perfection.

In the latter DOS days there were digital joypads made and I HIGHLY recommend a Gravis Gamepad or Gamepad Pro if you want to play action and arcade titles on the PC.

I am sure you all know what a Computer Mouse is. The only note I will make is that in the days of retro computing 2 button mice were the most common (unless you were a Mac user then enjoy 1), though there were some 3 button jobs available. Mice were great for RPGs, strategy games, or for later era machines that had games which in earlier years would have had trackball or paddle support.

We can't forget light guns either but for retro computing they were rather rare.
(Just get a good S Video tube TV set, and a Playstation 1 and 2 with the Guncon 1 and 2. Its all the light gun glory you REALLY need. Maybe a Saturn if you are a Virtua Cop sort.)

Of course now that we know how to control our machines to play games on them, we need a manner of feeding games to our new old toys.


The 4 main storage solutions of the 80s. (Left to right.) Cassette, 5 1/4" floppy, Cartridge, 3 1/2" floppy.


An Atari 1010 Cassette Drive. My Play button is broken so I have to have the front lid off so I can manually press the button.

Cassettes were the main purview of the late 70s and to the early 90s if you were in the UK and Europe. Many tape drives were dedicated with their own proprietary controllers (like the Atari and Commodore), but many were just your run of the mill tape recorders' output cable plugged into the computer. (Which allows for modern types to use a computer or MP3 player sometimes.)

These sorts of drives were popular because they were cheap (many people already owned tape recorders in their homes, or at least it was easy to just use your average C 30 or C60 blank tapes). However they were slow and temperamental, also usually not allowing for large games. I honestly do NOT recommend cassette drives or any system using one. While the tapes tend to be pretty durable in comparison with some of the other magnetic media, they are slow, annoying, and sometimes the drive just feels like eating and killing your rare game. (Like my single side edition of Temple of Apshai. Bite me Atari 1010.)

Cartridges should really be simple to anyone interested in old gaming. It is a little plastic box with some metal contacts. Many old computers had spots in the top or back to plug one in. The benefit is they were durable as hell, did not require folks to buy additional hardware besides the base computer unit, and at the time hard to pirate. The downsides are the expense of the cartridge hardware, the lack of being able to save game data, and the price tended to keep the games on these things on the small side.

Now the main media storage device of the retro computer:

The Disk Drive!

An Atari 1050 5 1/4" drive from the XL series.

For North American computer enthusiasts, the humble 5 1/4" disk drive was the alpha and the omega. Being relatively speedy compared to cassettes, allowing for loading in of assets when required, allowing for easy saving of game data, and allowing for nearly limitless game size depending on how many disks and disk sides the game publisher was willing to splurge for, the 5 1/4" disk was the king of the 80s. Nearly any computer worth a drat used them in some fashion. The only problem was the expense of the drive (usually equal to TWICE what the base machine cost), and it being mechanical lead to many drives dying, especially when publishers came up with particularly brutal forms of copy protection on the disk, or end users smacking them around. (Which sometimes happened when one was trying to quickly eject the disk before Wizardry decided to permanently save your entire party you spent 100s of hours developing as dead and gone for good because you ran into a bad encounter.)

5 1/4" disks were generally cheap to buy, and a pair of scissors or a hole puncher could turn a single sided disk into a double. Some machines even had non flipping double sided disk access. Also in many cases one could buy a second floppy disk and many games (and of course pirating software) would take advantage of the extra disk to keep one from swapping disks every time you moved from Area A to Area B. (Or any time you tried to talk with someone in Ultima 6 on the Commodore 64.) 5 1/4" disks require a sleeve when not in use as there is a BIG hole where the magnetic surface is exposed to the elements. These disks are a bit on the fragile side.

Most 5 1/4" disks held around 300 kilobytes of data over both sides, though some had more or less depending on the era of the drive. (Early Atari 8 bit drives held less than 100 K a side. Late DOS era 5 1/4 drives had 1.2 megabytes of space.)


A 3.5" floppy drive from the last days of DOS. And its friend nearby, a super speedy 8X CDROM.

In the 16 bit computers and DOS machines around 1991 or so, 3.5" floppy disks took over. Not requring a paper sleeve to protect the disks and being capable of automatically accessing both sides, the 3.5" disk improved upon the 5 1/4 in nearly every way. They were smaller, tougher, held around 720K (late DOS was 1.44 megs) and normally loaded faster with write protection being a simple sliding tab as opposed to needing a piece of tape over the notch hole. In my experience they don't seem to have the durability of their 5 1/4" counterparts in spite of normally being made of sterner stuff.

I don't really need to bring up Hard Disk Drives and CD ROM Drives as we still have them today. Outside of the later DOS and Macintosh machines, these 2 now common (in the case of CD ROM merely a legacy component as part of the DVD and Blu Ray standards that themselves are slowly dying as we become a high speed web connected and property owning disconnected society..) media storage and playback devices were uncommon if not ABSURDLY expensive.

The final part of this installment is VIDEO SOLUTIONS. One needs a way to connect their machine to a video output system so one can like see what is going on.

While some machines had integrated monitors, more did not.

Going in rough order of worst to best we have:

VHF Screws


VHF screws were a common sight in the 70s and 80s TV. You took your RF cable from the computer, plugged it into the switchbox, and then screwed the 2 leads in as shown above. This was the WORST picture quality possible, with tons of interference. It can be even worse if you need a VHF to Coaxial convertor. (Not shown because if your computer is so old you have to do this? FOR CTHULHU/GODZILLA/THAT ALLICORN PRINCESS HORSIE'S SAKE EMULATE INSTEAD!) These days on Ebay you can find little plugs that let you take the RF cable and plug it into said plug you stick in the Coaxial spot.



A Coaxial plug (screw type) and a Coaxial input next to a pair of RCA audio in jacks.

And hey.. Coaxial (or Cable Ready, if you're nasty)!

See once Cable became common in the US, TVs started to come CABLE READY with the coaxial inputs built right in providing a better picture. So instead of needing a TV/Game switch you just plugged or screwed the Coaxial right in, providing a better and more reliable picture.

But for many of these computers, the best output solution at the time was a Composite Monitor!

RCA Jack styled Composite Monitor connectors

Composite monitors were sharper, smaller, better TV sets, many of which could even have VCRs play through them at a higher quality. Things you could not do with most TV sets of the day like horizontal and vertical image adjustment were standard. The IBM PC CGA even used Composite as a way to get more than 4 colors out of its hideously dismal and laughable on screen palette!


The party in the back of a Commodore 1084 monitor. Note the VCR mode button, the RCA style inputs, and the 2 DIN type video connectors next to it. You also see a couple of the image adjustment dials.

Different machines used different sorts of connectors to connect to a Composite output. In many cases you could use the same monitor provided you had the correct cables. Though some machines in the same family had some that were RF ONLY!


Or in the Amiga 500's case you needed to buy a 50 odd dollar dongle to connect to a TV set or certain types of outputs...

And last but not least is the PC VGA!

A PC VGA cable.


A flat panel but not flat screen SVGA era monitor. Because the one that came with this machine is smaller and has SD Sailor Moon stickers on the side. What the hell was WRONG with me in the 90s?

Super crisp and super sharp, the VGA standard was around for years. Depending on what monitor and video card your machine has you can cover almost every PC video mode in the retro era. (Except for Tandy Graphics. We will get to that in a later post.)

While in many cases one CAN use modern flat screen LCD TVs (and possibly a VCR or DVD player to improve video for some machines), or get improved modern solutions like SVideo dongles for older computers, the above are more or less the main types of video you will be dealing with.

Of course these older monitors and TVs are large, heavy, awkward, and thick, but you can use light guns with them which sort of counts for something. And ALMOST makes up for the lack of widescreen that almost nothing in that era used anyhow.

But now that we have our concepts.. how the hell do we store some of our stuff?

First off:

Keep your hardware and software out of your basement or attic.

A huge percentage of my 3.5 DOS and Amiga disk collection are dead because of my humid or freezing basement. Try to keep your collection in a low humidity 60-80 degrees F. environment.

Also dust and clean your stuff properly.


My main Atari 8 bit computer storage tub. Boxed games stacked carefully, loose cartridges in a Zip Loc type baggie (baggies: not just for dank nugz any more!), loose manuals kept flat.

Plastic storage tubs are a great bet. You can fit a lot in them depending on size of the tub, and possibly even put in those DO NOT EAT dessicant thingies. A good way to keep your boxed games safe. Given how many games are in cardboard boxes this keeps the dust away, the light away, and keeps them from crushing each other.


My loose Atari 8 bit floppies including ancient as hell disk sleeves.

For loose 5 1/4" floppies I recommend getting the biggest disk holder you can find. These things were quite common in the day and do a good job of keeping your loose floppies from being destroyed or damaged. You can still hurt these disks even with the sleeves on them. I had some douchebag in Junior High (who was 13 in 6th grade.. making him 15 or 16 when this happened in 8th) rub his hands over the data spot on one of my disks to destroy my copy of Gauntlet even with the sleeve on. Luckily he being obviously hard of thinking didn't realize all he did was mangle a backup copy. Keep your disks safe folks!


My DOS 3.5" mega disk container. It protected them from everything but the humidity of the downstairs closet. But for the disks who died I have ebay and "Abandonware" sites to recover the data for games I bought back in the day.

And there are even more for 3.5" disks as well. If you don't have the original packaging to keep your games in you should get a specialized case.

For you poor sods with Cassette games you can sometimes use normal Cassette tape storage boxes that were sold at the time and the rest can probably just be binned.

If possible get dust covers for your hardware and if you have access to them, the packing cardboard or plastic that were placed in disk drives for storage.

Next post:

8 BIT MACHINES. Where Steve Jobs hates the thing that made his company money in the 70s and 80s, and Jack Tramiel is a magnificent BASTARD.

Captain Rufus fucked around with this message at 06:45 on Nov 5, 2013

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Captain Rufus
Sep 16, 2005

CAPTAIN WORD SALAD

OFF MY MEDS AGAIN PLEASE DON'T USE BIG WORDS

UNNECESSARY LINE BREAK

Well, for our purposes I will be covering the systems I think were notable enough to be mentioned.

Some systems, such as the Japanese computers from Sharp (X1, X68000), NEC (PC 88,98), the late 70s black and white almost no graphics machines (Commodore PET, Tandy TRS 80, Sinclair ZX 80 and 81), or

machines that were so niche as to nobody really owning or caring about them (Dragon 32/64, Oric 1, Timex Sinclairs) I will not be bothering to cover.

As this is also going up at Something Awful if any goons there wish to add in info for those machines I will credit them here, or to fill holes where I just don't know or care about the machine.

I will list the machines as such:

Name: (A general name for the machine line.)
Description: (Rough outline of the machine and picture probably taken from Wikipedia.)
Specs: (Some loose technical specifications. For RAM I am generally going with what the more mainline machines carried.)
My Experience: (Do I have any experiences with the machine?)
Recommended Model: (Which model of that line I think you should try to get.)
Release Date/Original Price: (When known this will be the year it came out and its US MSRP in that time's money ignoring inflation.)
Notable Games: (What games I think are worth checking out or which were big on the machine. I am a big arcade, RPG, and turn based strategy guy so my game thoughts might differ from yours.)
Emulation Options: (If you are cheap or want to try before buying here will be an emulator to look at.)
Average Current Price/Amount I Would Pay: (What they seem to go for a working system on Ebay and how much I would probably pay. These will generally be 2 different numbers because I am cheap.)

Note that this is not an IN DEPTH LOOK at each machine. I will do more posts covering the machines I know and love the best, and others will hopefully do the same for the ones they know.

The 8 Bits: The 8 bit machines were cheap and cheerful for the most part. I am designating 8 bit machines as ones that had both 8 bit level graphics systems and CPUs. There were some machines that only had one or the other. In consoles the Mattel Intellivision was a 16 bit CPU but I mean its graphics were far worse what most 8 bit computers did. So.. let's just call em 8 bits meaning more era than what its CPU actually was.


Amstrad CPC:

Amstrad CPC 464 and Color Monitor (Image Wikimedia Commons)


Description: In the UK the Amstrad was the third place home computer of the 8 bit era. Coming as an all in one unit including a color or monochrome monitor, it is in between the Spectrum and Commodore 64 as far as gaming capabilities.

Specs: 4mhz Z80 CPU, 64K RAM. 640x200 2 color-160x200 16 color. 27 color palette. 3 channel, 8 octave sound.

My Experience: None. These machines were really unknown in the US.

Recommended Model: I would say the CPC128 but they were only sold for a short period of time, and there are some compatibility issues with the Plus line. So a stock color 464 is your best bet to run the most stuff.

Release Date/Original Price: 1984/684 pounds

Notable Games: No real idea. The Amstrad didn't have a ton of exclusive games. Some low effort Spectrum ports that failed to take advantage of the machine, and a number of arcade conversions which usually looked good but failed to have the scrolling and speed of the Commodore 64 efforts.

Emulation Options: No real experience here either.

Average Current Price/Amount I Would Pay: Around 120 US without monitor/60 without monitor, 120 with color.

Snakedance adds:Something I'd like to add to the OP, though - regarding the Amstrad. You haven't listed any notable games, but I'd argue that there were quite a few. Firstly, the Roland series - Roland In Time, Roland In Space, etc. - were certainly significant platform games. Roland In Space, in particular, did full side-scrolling platform adventuring a full year before Super Mario Brothers, and in Roland, Amstrad had one of computer gaming's first mascots (after Miner Willy, naturally).

Apple II:

Apple IIe System (Image Wikimedia Commons)

Description: The computer that can genuinely be said to have started the home computer revolution, the Apple II series was massively popular. But then as now, Apple charged a massive price premium which hurt it. Though they did cleverly get the machines in nearly every halfway decent school in the US.

Specs: 1 mhz 6502 series CPU, 64K RAM, 40x40 16 color-560x192 2 color, 16 color palette, 1 channel sound. (II E version)

My Experience: Like most people in the lower middle class my experiences with the Apple II line was at school. Nobody had these machines in the home. Apple's offerings were almost always 3-4 times as expensive as other computers that usually were better. In general most Apple II games were closer to 5 colors on screen and using composite techniques so even text looks multicolored.

Recommended Model: IIc Plus is the best bet. It is a sharp looking machine and even has a 4mhz CPU. But it comes with a 3.5" drive while most programs are on 5 1/4" so you will need a second drive. The IIc is more a nice looking IIe without the IIe's expansion slots. Which is why the IIe looks big and fat. So any one of those 3 would do you nicely. But.. there is another way. See me in the 16 bit section!

Release Date/Original Price: 1977/1300 dollars. (Original II)

Notable Games: Most of the Apple 2's best games appeared in better form on the Atari 8 bit and Commodore 64. But some games were identical over the 3 formats. But as a historian many of the earliest Sierra titles appeared on this machine. So: Mystery House and Akalabeth are worth playing for this machine alone. Honestly buy a C64 or an Atari 8 bit and get most of the good games in a better format.

Emulation Options: AppleWin is always a great emulator, and the Virtual Apple site has games you can play online if you are lazy or slacking at work.

Average Current Price/Amount I Would Pay: 300 or so for complete systems with monitor/ 200 for the IIe or c, 250 for a IIc plus.



Atari 8 Bits:

Image from my Atari 8 bit blog project. Y'all will see this too. Eventually.

Description: Somewhere in between the Apple 2 and the Commodore 64 in power the Atari 8 bits were a special odd duck. The first machine whose innards were used for a console (the 5200), and in fact it was also used for ANOTHER console that was compatible with the computer line later! (XEGS) Also the first machine I know of with 4 controller ports (x00 series only). Its not a must have machine but its a cheap alternative to an Apple II or a C64. Or you just really like Star Raiders....

Specs: 1.79 mhz 6502 series CPU, 64K RAM, 320x192 with various modes, 256 color palette, 4 voice 3.5 octave sound.

My Experience: This is a machine I didn't get to see till last year. Thanks to Steve Benway's videos showing the machine I felt like splurging and got myself a setup. I really enjoy the computer. Its better in some ways than a C64 as far as disk based speed goes, and its got a decent DOS and a ton of inexpensive cartridge games.

Recommended Model: This is a funny one. There are THREE series with three distinct looks. And a minor suite of incompatibilities. So to run everything you need an x00 series and either the XL or XE. But in general the XL and XE are better machines unless you dig the 800 looking like a gorgeous 70s uggo tank. Soo either a 800 for the oldest of software, or either a 800xl or a 130xe. The xl has 64k ram, the 130 128k. Almost nothing needs 128k of ram outside of a few fan made games. Pick either of those 2 you want.

Release Date/Original Price: 1979/1000 dollars.

Notable Games: Many games are the same as on the Apple II or Commodore 64. On the Atari 8 bits they are usually in between the 2 machines in quality. But there were some exclusives like Star Raiders and Eastern Front that were quite good. (Atari 2600 SRaiders is a PALE imitation.)

Emulation Options: The best emulator is Altirra. It covers the odd color issues many people seem unaware of. If you see videos or screencaps of Pac Man with wrong looking color this is why.

Average Current Price/Amount I Would Pay: 75 for the base unit, sometimes 110 or so with the 1050 floppy drive. (The good 5 1/4 drives go for 40 or so online.)/60, 85 with 1050 floppy drive.



BBC Micro/Acorn Electron:

The BBC Micro (Image Wikimedia Commons)

Description: Made by Acorn in conjunction with a BBC educational series about computers, the BBC Micro was to the UK what the Apple II was to the US. An expensive machine more used in schools than
something folks at home had. A less powerful home version called the Electron took those duties. Overall its not a very powerful computer and it really doesn't have much to recommend it outside of UK nostalgia.

Specs: 2 mhz 6502 series CPU, 64K RAM, 640x256 8 colors, 16 color palette, 3 channel 7 octave sound.

My Experience: Another UK computer nobody knew or heard of in the US even though it was apparently released here.

Recommended Model: The BBC B is generally the most compatible though the Master had some improvements and a LOT more RAM. The B is probably your best bet.

Release Date/Original Price: 1981/335 UK Pounds.

Notable Games: In general most of the games on the system weren't all that notable. It is considered to have the best version of the original Elite however. Any UK folks know some great exclusives?

Emulation Options: Another system I never knew about when it was actively produced and another one I simply don't bother with.

Average Current Price/Amount I Would Pay: (None currently on ebay!)/ 60 dollars.



Commodore Vic 20:

Commodore Vic 20 (Image Wikimedia Commons)

Description: Commodore's follow up to the PET, the Vic 20 was really the first computer for the masses and not the masses as Jack Tramiel (Commodore's BMOC) may have said. Its more powerful than the PET or the TRS 80 and in some ways could hang with the Apple II or II+ models but it isn't really much more powerful than an Intellivision. Its the first computer to sell a million machines though. Its also an ugly looking machine and it is sort of why the Commodore 64's disk drive is so damned slow.

Specs: 1 mhz 6502 series CPU, 5K RAM, 184x176 8 color 16 background/border, 16 color palette, 3 voice 3 octave sound.

My Experience: This is another computer I have never seen in live use. I knew one kid about 6 years older than me who claimed to have one, and some relatives had a nonworking machine. But.. I have never seen one used. Basically it did really well but nearly everyone moved up to the C64 who had one I guess.

Recommended Model: There is only one to the best of my limited research.

Release Date/Original Price: 1981/300 dollars (At this point roughly 100 bucks or so more than an Atari 2600.)

Notable Games: The Vic 20 didn't really have too many exclusives. A lot of arcade ports and is the original home system of Sword of Fargoal, but that game has a C64 port, a massively superior iOS remake, and its sequel just got successfully Kickstarted. There is a recent RPG made for it called Realms of Quest that looks pretty good but more because of what its on than anything else. Its another system mostly for the historian or someone who had one back in the day.

Emulation Options: Winvice. A good solid working emulator that covers most of the 8 bit Commodore machines.

Average Current Price/Amount I Would Pay: About 100 for the unit, sometimes with tape drive/60 bucks with tape drive, 40 without.



Commodore 64/128:

Commodore 64c variant with aligned monitor and 1541 II floppy drive (Image Wikimedia Commons)

Description: THE 8 bit computer of the 80s. Until the NES and Sega Master System showed up in the USA, this was the ultimate 8 bit gaming machine. Except it was also a full bore computer. And cheap especially compared to what Apple was charging for a much weaker computer. One of the highest selling family lines of computers ever with nearly 20 million machines sold over its five variants. (C64, 64c, 128, 128d, SX64) In the UK it was a solid second after the Sinclair Spectrum as it did cost more than that underpowered thing. In the US it was really the only computer I knew more than one person ever owning. The C64's SID chip provided the best 8 bit audio that was built in to any 8 bit game or computer system bar none. Only an Apple II series add on board called The Mockingboard could match it. Which cost around what the 64 ran at the time if not more for just the card!

Specs: 1 mhz 6510 CPU, 64K RAM, 160x200-320x200, 16 color palette, 3 channel 8 octave 4 waveform sound.

My Experience: The first time I saw one was a friend had the original model that was a browner Vic 20 (part of how it was made so fast and cheap. Lots of recycled bits from the Vic and compatible with a lot of its hardware, holding the C64 back in many ways) but the games and the graphics in Fall 85 were beyond anything my Atari 2600 could do. And once I saw what the floppy drive could put out? I had to have one. It would just take two years and my machine would be the better looking (and more reliable) "c" model. So many amazing RPGs and strategy games were played on this thing. While the NES had better action games the C64 had games of depth and detail that the NES couldn't match.

Recommended Model: I recommend the C64c. Its a sharper looking unit than the ugly old "breadbox" model. You could also go with the 128 which is an enhanced 64 with a bunch of stuff nobody really used as most publishers just kept to C64 specifications. If you live in Europe or want the UK games you will need a tape drive and I commend your damned soul. In the US you need a 1541 drive. Sometimes games if on the right format will work on the other but will run a little too slow or fast. I remember pirates brought TONS of UK only software out in the west.

Release Date/Original Price: 1982/600 dollars

Notable Games: Much like the Apple II and Atari 8 bits, the C64 shared a lot of software with them. It also shared games those 2 didn't get with the IBM DOS machines, Atari ST, and Amiga. It has the best playing versions of Defender of the Crown, Ultima, Last Ninja, and many more, and some late era UK only games like Creatures & Mayhem in Monsterland don't even look like the same system those earliest 1982 releases are.

Emulation Options: WinVice. There is also a plug and play joystick that has a good suite of games on it if you want to hack it up and make an actual C64 out of it. Because its a full 64 on a chip with pinouts to make it a full machine.

Average Current Price/Amount I Would Pay: 125 with floppy drive for US systems/75 with floppy drive.



Coleco Adam:

Coleco Adam (Image Wikimedia Commons)

Description: The Coleco Adam is both awesome and terrible. On one hand it was a true computer based on a console (The Colecovision) that ran all the original's games making it a good upgrade path. It also was a complete system in one box. Just add TV or monitor! On the other it was stupidly expensive for the time, had reliability issues that make launch X Box 360s look like a Ford Escort compared to the Adam's Pinto, it would erase tape games left in the dual drive when you turned it on, and being an all in one you had to have the Daisy Wheel (ascii text only printer) printer working and on otherwise the whole system would go down.

Oh.. and it's failure basically killed Coleco. A Connecticut toy and electronics company. I live in CT. Bugger.

Specs: 3.58 mhz Z80 CPU, 64K RAM, 256x192, 16 color palette, 3 voice 5 octave sound.

My Experience: There was a friend down the road from me who had one. His dad was a DJ for the Top 40 Radio station in the area. His dad was a cool enough bloke and the first person I knew with CDs (like 87). The machine itself was big but cool and they were fortunate to have a working model. IT WAS A COMPUTER COLECOVISION. Sadly his son was kind of a douche who would trade stuff with people then get his mom to get the trade reversed. Also eventually he would constantly try to get in fights with everyone in the neighborhood and he would lose them all. Even to me. It was the only fight I was ever in and I won. (Mainly because I made it a wrestling match and wasn't actually trying to hurt him. I had previously thwacked him in the noggin multiple times trying to get it through his skull I wasn't interested in fighting him. He.. he tried fighting nearly every guy in the area. I think he lost every single one. Even to people younger than him. MUCH younger.) The computer was cool though. He sold/traded it to another friend who sadly got rid of it before I could get it off of him. Was the first system I played Miner 2049er on. I like the Adam in spite of a pathetic goober having owned it.

Recommended Model: The original model I guess? There was an expansion version made for the Colecovision console but.. I like the beige/white version over the CVision being black and silver.

Release Date/Original Price: 1983/700 dollars.

Notable Games: It had great for the time arcade ports as the Colecovision did. But in modern times most of the library is.. kind of pointless. I suppose if you count Colecovision titles as Adam ones you can play

Cabbage Patch Kids, Smurfs, and Wargames if you are a real early 80s nostalgia type.

Emulation Options: Any good Colecovision emulator really. I used to use ColEm back in the day. But again.. the Colecovision and Adam were great "for their time" arcade ports. Now most arcade classics have legit home arcade perfect ports. Or MAME. Also its basically a proto MSX machine and that one had more popularity and versatility. We will get to that...

Average Current Price/Amount I Would Pay: 150 (with 100 dollars or so shipping)/ 200 (including shipping)



Mattel Aquarius:

Mattel Aquarius with Tape Drive (Image Wikimedia Commons)

Description: Another odd machine from the early 80s. Mattel whose Intellivision game system was outspeccing and basically being the early 80s X Box to the 2600's Playstation 2 (and generally selling to a similar more sports and multiplayer audience) was supposed to have a computer expansion that had been promised since the machine's release in 1979. It kind of came out twice but.. not really. Yet Mattel also teamed up with a small company in Asia and released this machine. Which was LOWER in ability than the Intellivision and came out while the US videogame industry was collapsing and the computer market was oversaturated with machines, most of which kicked this thing's rear end, leading it to be sold in those Job Lot type stores within months of release.

Specs: 3.5 mhz Z80 CPU, 4K RAM, 80x72, 16 color palette, 1 voice sound. (3 voice with expansion)

My Experience: The Aquarius holds a fond place in my heart. It was my first experience with a computer. My first experience with Astrosmash, AD&D, Burgertime, and Snafu. My first experience using a control pad. On a mid 80s rainy Thanksgiving I was over at my aunt and uncle's house with my family. As I was a good 5 years younger than my cousins, and the fact most of my family was mostly glued to football on TV I had nothing really to do but sit in my youngest cousin's room (said 5 years older than me) and play with the computer on a little black and white TV. I think I spent a good 4-6 HOURS playing it. As my mother was an idiot I wasn't supposed to have anything to do with Dungeons and Dragons so there was even a tad of illicitness to playing Tower of Tarmin. Sadly they lost or sold or broke the thing before I could buy it off them. I loved the little thing in spite of its suckiness. Its charming!

Recommended Model: The Computer and Game System<b style="font-style: italic;"> [/b]bundle which has the base unit with the all but required Expansion Module which contains 2 game controllers, expanded sound, and 2 cartridge ports allowing for a game and a ram pack if you decide to do HAHAHA. Ok ok let's not get silly here.

Release Date/Original Price: Can't find out much info. Base unit went for around 100 dollars. But it was sold for like a single quarter and most people bought the Game System bundle at Job Lot sort of places for less than that.

Notable Games: None. As far as I can tell every game was a reduced version of an Intellivision game.

Emulation Options: Its called the Intellivision Lives! collection packages. Play the real versions of the super tiny game library!

Average Current Price/Amount I Would Pay: 150 bucks or so for the bundle/ 60 for the bundle and that's just out of nostalgia and I think the computer is a great looking machine.



MSX:

Sony "Hit Bit" MSX Computer (Image Wikimedia Commons)

Description: Similar to the 3DO, the MSX was a computer standard that allowed for multiple hardware manufacturers to make said hardware with a Microsoft Basic and such internal to them all. It did well in Japan and other parts of the world but was a giant wet fart in North America.

Specs: 3.58 mhz Z80 CPU, 64K RAM, 256x192 16 color - 512x212 16 color - 256x212 - 256 color , 19000+ color palette (Turbo R), 9 channel sound.

My Experience: Another machine I would love to have but never even saw, the original MSX was basically a slightly upgraded Colecovision or Sinclair Spectrum. They had multiple revisions with better specs though Japan got most of the upgraded machines and Europe and South America did not. I mostly want one for the Castlevania version exclusive to this machine.

Recommended Model: If you are a US NTSC type you want a MSX 2+ or Turbo R machine if you want to run the most stuff. Original MSX machines don't run a lot and it seems compatibility with older stuff is REALLY high in this series.

Release Date/Original Price: 1983/various

Notable Games: Konami basically owned this machine like a BOSS. Its the original home of Metal Gear 1&2, Parodius, Snatcher SD, and that Castlevania version I want so bloody badly! MG 1 and 2 are on some later Metal Gear Solid 3 collections if you want a slightly modified yet translated version however.

Emulation Options: Blue MSX works really well. Some fans even made a wee set top box MSX thingie a couple years back but its out of production now. Also there was a company selling legit roms and emu packages for MSX titles in English but I can't find hide nor hair of them now.

Average Current Price/Amount I Would Pay: Around 200 or so for the various MSX 2 standard family systems/ 75 bucks.

UPDATE: A fine and massively excellent overview of the MSX by someone who has experience and knows what the hell is up can be found here: https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3577352&pagenumber=56#post468428423

Sinclair Spectrum:

Sinclair Spectrum +2 Computer (Image Wikimedia Commons)

Description: From the wacky mind of Sinclair Research came THE 8 bit computer of the United Kingdom, the ZX Spectrum! A wee tiny but super cheap computer where basically everything had to be another add on, the chicklet keyed wonder because a thing of beloved nostalgia in the UK to the point Retro Gamer Magazine can't really go an issue without having a couple pages devoted to something about it. Its where the UK games industry got its start. Graphics have color clashing when a sprite moves near another one so colors get weird and most sprites are single color to begin with! Sound is normally god awful making PC Speaker levels of terrible unless you get a later model machine and games that support it. But they are drat good looking PAL machines as far as the hardware goes.

Specs: 3.5 mhz z80 CPU, 16K-48k-128k RAM, 256x192 8 two tone colors, 1 voice 10 octave beeper sound.
My Experience: Again none. These machines in a somewhat incompatible form did come over courtesy of Timex, but they bombed out FAST in the US. And for good reason. The Spectrum.. kind of sucks. Its a nostalgia machine for UK kids who grew up with them, or something for historians.

Recommended Model: The 128K +2 model shown above. None of the interface nonsense of the earlier machines and it both has a real keyboard and a cassette drive built in.

Release Date/Original Price: 1982/125 UK Pounds

Notable Games: Hmm. Like most UK machines it shared a ton of ports with other systems, most of which were best on the Commodore 64. But it was the home machine of Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy, 3d Deathchase, THE FIRST BATMAN VIDEOGAME, and Rare's original releases.

Emulation Options: I don't really like the Spectrum so no real idea here. I do recommend a lot of the Retrospec remakes of Spectrum games for your PC.

Edit with new info from Tsietisin
You mentioned Emulation well from my experience I have always preferred Spectaculator. It is one you pay for after a month, but it does work very well.

Average Current Price/Amount I Would Pay: 30-100 dollars depending on model/ 50 for a complete working +2. (Mainly since I would need to spend another 50-100 bucks to make it work in NSTC land.)


Tandy Color Computer:

Tandy Color Computer 3 (Image Wikimedia Commons)

Description: The follow up to the TRS 80 computer line, the Color Computer (CoCo as it is well known as) was Tandy's follow up to that venerable and underpowered machine. Being 3 models of improving specifications it was sold in Radio Shacks and pretty much nobody had or talked about them outside of a small devoted fanbase who still manage to do amazing things with them. Plus Tandy had the 1000 line of PC Junior DOS clones it cared more about promoting and that whole being exclusive to Radio Shack where you have questions, they are clueless, and gimme your bloody address for buying a couple batteries or a package of resistors and its no wonder it didn't do so hot but survived for quite some time anyhow.

Specs: .89 or 1.79 mhz Motorola 68b09e CPU, 4k-128k RAM, 320x200 16 color - 640x400 4 color, 64 color palette, 1 voice 6 bit DAC sound.

My Experience: Another machine I saw but never owned as most Radio Shacks had them in the 80s but I rarely went into Radio Shacks and by the time I did I had a Commodore 64. I was jealous seeing some of the Sierra games on it though. Even if they were generally better on the DOS machines.

Recommended Model: The Color Computer 3 model.

Release Date/Original Price: 1980/400 US dollars.

Notable Games: No idea. Most CoCo titles were ports or knockoffs of other games. I do know there were a good half dozen or so Ultima clones I would play the hell out of. But finding information on them is like pulling teeth. Dungeons of Daggorath is somewhat well regarded too.

Emulation Options: Need info because like many machines I just don't see a need to bother with them.

Average Current Price/Amount I Would Pay: 80 for a complete CoCo 3 setup/the same.



Tandy 1000/IBM PC Junior/CGA-EGA DOS:

Tandy 1000 HX (Image Wikimedia Commons)

Description: The computer that shouldn't have but did. The IBM 5150 PC was built with generally generic parts which lead it to be cloned and making it the king home computer format. A giant box full of slots for upgrading, deals made with Microsoft for the OS, the failure and death of the CPM OS due to shenanigans and general stupidity, and just blind dumb luck caused this little cruddy machine to become king of the computing world and made both Intel and Microsoft a LOT of money while making IBM and Digital Research (CPM makers) look really really stupid. The original PC was mostly just monochrome work computer stuff but improved graphics and audio and gameport cards over the years to follow would improve the machine's capabilities to do things other than work. Because with your 1000-4000 80s dollars machine of COURSE you want to play games and such on it. Games really drive the computer market as much if not more than killer productivity apps.

In 1983 IBM made a system designed for the home called the PC Junior which had an improved version of the CGA graphics standard that was competitive if not superior to the 8 bit micros of the day and improved sound in a standard that would really be the only good and standardized PC sound until the Ad Lib music card. While the PC Jr. did not do well, Tandy made a clone of it and this became their 1000 series. The 1000 series is really THE 80s PC to get for retro gamers.

(Yes the Intel CPUs are 16 bit but given the graphics qualities of the machines till the 386 CPUs and VGA graphics became standard you might as well call DOS machines pre 1989-90 8 bit.)

Specs: XT: 4.77-9.56 mhz Intel 8088-86 CPU, 128k-640k RAM, 320x200 16 color - 640x400 4 color, 16 color palette, 3 voice 1 channel sound. (AT machines had a 7mhz and up CPU and normally an EGA graphics card which could do 16 colors but was not the same as Tandy/PC Junior 16 color graphics. The Tandy 1000 series had most machines as XT ones, even with super fast 86 and 88 CPUs. These are also the ones with Tandy Graphics mode.)

My Experience: My first real experience with a DOS computer was the same year (Xmas 87) that I got my C64. My friends up the street got a Franklin DOS PC with DOS 3.33. The joystick was this awful analog thing that was terrible for Jordan vs Bird & Skate or Die and the graphics were these terrible 4 color CGA non composite (DOS CGA machines with a composite monitor could manage a 16 color hack) graphics usually using either bright green and orange, or a purple and soft blue. I would later get to mess with a Tandy 1000 series which looked a lot better and had tons of sweet features. Though the Franklin my friends had was a NICE looking computer. It just cost like triple what my C64 setup had and looked worse for gaming. I knew another friend who said he had the same machine as the picture, but he was more an acquaintance I kept from getting greased on the bus in high school than anything else. He let me borrow his Game Boy for a few weeks though. Was supposed to sell me his copy of Phantasy Star for 25 bucks in 1992 but didn't show up that day. I wouldn't get to play it till the early 00s as a result.

Recommended Model: A Tandy 1000 SL/2 is probably your best bet for an early DOS machine. Just pop in a 5 1/4" drive to go with the 3.5". The SL had the 5 1/4. The only issue is they both used low density drives. If possible put in high density drives and you can run a TON of stuff in its best possible format. For EGA stuff without a Tandy mode see me in the 16 bit section as we have your back there. They had hard disk options available as well but you need to look into that yourself. Multiple drive sizes, bay sizes, and even formats. I have managed to fit a 1 gig drive into a 486 machine running DOS 6.22 so who knows what you can manage? The TL series and the RL/HD are also good choices. Pay attention to specs to get the 1000 that does what you want. You want to be able to run PC Booter software which was 5 1/4" floppy disks and stuff that doesn't have EGA, MCGA, or VGA graphics modes but does have Tandy graphics. Or those REALLY old DOS games that just hate faster CPUs.

Release Date/Original Price: 1984/1200 US dollars (Tandy 1000. Original IBM PC 1981, PC Jr 1983)

Notable Games: 81-88 era DOS was mostly the same stuff as on every other machine though sometimes inferior, other times superior. If I need to list great DOS games something is wrong and why are you reading this? (Also see resources entry after the 16 bit list.)

Emulation Options: DOSBOX baby! With the right front end and the correct options chosen you can pretty much run everything ever made from 81-97 in a great form, though some composite mode CGA stuff doesn't translate properly.

Average Current Price/Amount I Would Pay: 300/200-300 depending on what comes in the machine.



Texas Instruments TI 99/4:

Texas Instruments TI 99/4. The Superior 4A has a real keyboard but otherwise looks quite similar. (Image Wikimedia Commons)

Description: Texas Instruments' entry into the computer market, it was a decent machine with BILL FREAKING COSBY as the spokesperson (Bill Shatner shilled for the Vic 20, Alan Alda the Atari 8 bits). It was mostly killed because Commodore owned MOS Technologies and could make hardware much cheaper and was thus able to kill the low end computer market and still make a profit.

Specs: 3 mhz 16 bit TI TMS 9900 CPU, 16k-52k RAM, 256x192 16 colors, 3 voice 5 octave 1 noise sound.

My Experience: I had a pal who got one from a yard sale. (He got cool stuff at yard sales because his mom was awesome.) I played a bit of Microsurgeon on it which was kind of rad but.. it didn't leave much of an impression on me. Wasn't bad though. I kind of wonder if he still has it, if it works, and how much he would want for it...

Recommended Model: There is really only one model you want. The TI 99/4A. Its a shiny machine and the revised version which came out in 81 for 525 bucks.

Release Date/Original Price: 1979/1500 US dollars with color monitor.

Notable Games: All I remember playing was Microsurgeon on it. Also Parsec, and Tunnels of Doom.

Emulation Options: Another one I haven't bothered with emulation of. Tunnels of Doom has a fan remake, and a lot of games were either arcade ports or knockoffs.

Average Current Price/Amount I Would Pay: 50 bucks/the same.


(PS: Thanks to goons for looking over my original posts and special thanks to Kea and Sampson for turning my Blogspot code into more quickly edited by text to finally get these goddamned posts done.)

Join me next post for the 16 bit era in this same manner. Thankfully waaay less machines to cover. Intel became Death, Destroyer of Computing in this next era.

Captain Rufus fucked around with this message at 08:55 on Feb 5, 2017

Captain Rufus
Sep 16, 2005

CAPTAIN WORD SALAD

OFF MY MEDS AGAIN PLEASE DON'T USE BIG WORDS

UNNECESSARY LINE BREAK

The 16 Bits: The 16 bitters are machines based around a 16 bit CPU and graphics. For our purposes Intel CPU PCs will be considered true 16 bit as of the VGA and MCGA graphics standards.


Apple IIGS:

Apple IIgs sans monitor (Image Wikimedia Commons)

Description: Apple's upgrade path from the Apple II series. It was a beefed up Apple II capable with nearly all the software and some of the hardware (hell you could get GS guts put in a E machine!) yet also being mostly competitive with the 16 bit computers and consoles of other companies. Sadly Apple was obsessed with the Macintosh line at the time and intentionally made the GS slower than it could have been, and didn't really support it the way they should have. It could have been a contender. It should have been a contender. Instead it was the II line's swan song.

Specs: 2.8 mhz65C816 Western Digital CPU, 320x200 256 color-640x400 16 dithered colors, 4096 color palette, 256k RAM, 16 stereo voice sound.

My Experience: I have only seen this machine in the flesh once. My English High School teacher had one. I thought it was a cool machine but I don't think I had a chance to do anything with it but putz about while writing some report on it. I kind of want to play with one more. But with the current Apple fanaticism being similar to that of Firefly fandom prices keep shooting up.

Recommended Model: Rom Version 3 model. It has all the revisions to the machine, plus 1 megabyte of RAM. This model came out in August 1989. So look for these older machines if possible. Unless you really love the legendary Steve Wozniak and you want the original Woz Signature edition. The March 1988 model had 512k. But.. go for a 1990 or later made machine if you want the best fly hooptie.

Release Date/Original Price: 1986/1000 US dollars.

Notable Games: Another system without really many exclusives, it does have some killer ports of the Taito arcade games of the day like Arkanoid and Rastan. But it had some good versions of titles that would have been better had Apple not intentionally hobbled the thing and given it any real support.

Emulation Options: I am pretty sure AppleWin covers the machine, and the Virtual Apple website has some IIgs games to play.

Average Current Price/Amount I Would Pay: 350 without shipping/325 with shipping, 3.5" and 5 1/4" drives, monitor.



Apple Macintosh:

The dual disk drive Macintosh SE. The bane of my Sophmore-Senior year High School existence. (Besides you know, everything else making my life miserable. Image Wikimedia Commons by the way.)

Description: The successor to the II line, the Macintosh line was and still is in production, going to various forms of incompatibility, CPUs, Operating Systems, and other things. The 3 main CPU lines used were the 68000 series, the Power PC chips, and now Intel X86 series chips. The original series started out as all in one black and white machines with the first major machine to use a graphical mouse based OS. The II line brought in color and an absurd price point and things went on from there.

Specs: Original: 7.86 Motorola 68000 CPU, 512x342 black and white, 2 color palette, 128k-512k RAM, 4 voice 12 octave monaural 22 khz sound. (Color Classic from 93: 68030 16 mhz, 256 color palette, 4 megs RAM, 16 bit sound.)

My Experience: My first experience was in the 89-90 Sophmore year of High School in my Vocational Electronics class. We had to use these overpriced and underpowered things to write reports on every single project we did, using a drafting or painting program with a font/graphics type to be circuits. So instead of doing and learning electronics we spent most of our time on these stupid machines. On the upside, there were a couple fun versions of games we somehow got on it...

Recommended Model: As I mentioned there are THREE core eras of Macs, that become increasingly incompatible with each other. For the classic 68000 series era your best bet would be a Color Classic I or II or IIfx if you want the best color Mac II series machine. You can sometimes run old Mac software on their later OSX releases through 10.4 (Tiger) and a PPC machine but.. not always and usually quite slow. I got Bard's Tale to run nicely on a late 05 PPC Imac but Quake and Wolfenstein 3D ran terribly. Do your research.

Release Date/Original Price: 1984 Mac/2500 US dollars. 1993 Color Classic/1400 US dollars.

Notable Games: Macs didn't have a ton of games because Apple of the era considered games beneath them. But there are some killer versions of Ultima III, Wizardry, Bard's Tale, PT-109, and the Bungie FPS s out there. While its PPC era, Kill Monty is a GREAT single screen arena shooter in the Robotron tradition.

Emulation Options: I don't really have any experience with this. I have experience running PC programs in OSX but not the other way around. Go figure.
Helpful information from Thuryl: here's what I know about classic Mac emulation. Mini vMac is probably the easiest Mac emulator to set up and most stable, but only emulates a Macintosh Plus. That means you're limited to games that will run under older system software with B&W graphics. Basilisk II and SheepShaver can emulate newer systems (relatively speaking: we're talking mid-to-late 90s here), but are more of a pain to set up. Fortunately, there are setup guides available online to tell you what you'll need to do; they may be slightly out of date but the process is still basically the same. (http://www.emaculation.com/doku.php)

Average Current Price/Amount I Would Pay: There are so many bloody models its hard to say. Usually 250-1000 depending on type, age, and condition. /I would pay around 100 for a B&W or all in one 68000 machine, 200 for a II series, and maybe the same for the original era Imacs.



Atari ST:

Atari 1040 STf (Image Wikimedia Commons)

Description: Jack Tramiel's battle against his old company Commodore began with the introduction of the Atari STs to counteract their Amiga. Built mostly on the quick to get in the market fast, it used the GEM graphical OS and shared the same CPU as the Amiga and Macintosh. Never really popular in the US, it isn't as good as an Amiga which normally had twice the colors. The machine did well enough in Europe/UK to have a fairly decent lifespan with a number of machines and a fair suite of titles.

Specs: 8 mhz Motorola 68000 CPU, 320x200 16 color-640x200 16 4 color, 512 color palette, 512k-1 megabyte RAM, 3 voice 1 noise 8 octave sound.

My Experience: Another system I never owned and only knew one person who claimed to have one. A guy who was such a terrible human being both teachers in my Vocational High School Electronics class kicked him out.

Recommended Model: This one is EASY. The 1040 STFM. Unlike the earlier 1040 ST it has a built in RF modulator so no monitor needed. The later STE, TT, and Falcon machines have some software incompatibilities with the original ST software that was waaay more popular.

Release Date/Original Price: 1985/750 UK Pounds.

Notable Games: Much of its stuff was also on other computers of the day. However it was the home of Midi Maze and Dungeon Master.

Emulation Options: I seem to have issues getting ST stuff running in emulators for some reason so can't really help here.
Average Current Price/Amount I Would Pay: 150 for a 1040 ST of either variant, though a bit less in the UK/100 bucks.



Commodore Amiga:

Amiga 500 with monitor and extra floppy drive (Image Wikimedia Commons)

Description: The greatest computer that failed. This was the Amiga. It did more for less years before the competition caught up to it. Multitasking. Graphical OS. Awesome graphics and sound. And since it was from Commodore it cost WAAAAY less than the competition in spite of owning their faces. Sadly Commodore barely marketed the thing in the US, and it mostly was popular in Europe. The failure of the Amiga in the US and the reign of the Intel PC is one of the greatest crimes of the 80s and 90s.

Specs: 7.16 mhz Motorola 68000 CPU, 320x400 32 color-640x400 16 color, 4096 color palette (capable of showing all colors on screen in a special mode, 256k-1 megabyte RAM, 4 8 bit channel stereo sound.

My Experience: I knew a douchebag in Junior High (see my mention of him who tried killing my Gauntlet disk) who said he had one. In High School one guy had one who was kind of a tool that actually worked at a Commodore retailer for a while. It must have been where he found the high resolution pictures he showed us on his Amiga 500 one day towards the end of Senior year. It involved a man, a woman, and a dog. That was messed up. However I got a 500 that year as my graduation present I would sadly only enjoy for like a month before going into the Navy 4 months earlier than planned. I enjoyed the machine for what limited time I had with it, but I sadly saw the writing on the wall and got a PC. I both regret and don't regret that decision. I do wish I had left the machine at home. It and the games I had would be in better shape.

Recommended Model: In general there are TWO models worth buying. The 500 with the RAM expansion installed, and the 2000 which is a full desktop machine. The 600 is a good option but especially in NTSC land its really kind of rare. And you lose out on the numeric keypad. However it can have a hard drive or SD card replacement solution which is something that was very hard to do with the 500. There is also the 1200 which was the upgraded 500 replacement though many older games don't run on it.

Release Date/Original Price: 1985/1300 (1600 with monitor)

Notable Games: A ton, though mostly in the UK. The Amiga was the home of Shadow of the Beast, Worms, Lemmings, Gods, Myth, and Stunt Car Racer, as well as having sometimes the best late 80s version of many 8 bit and DOS games. This would change in the 90s as PCs got faster and faster, and VGA became king.

Emulation Options: This begins and ends with UAE. If you are lazy and don't want to deal with the sheer volume of options this finicky and diverse line of machines had, the Amiga Forever emulation package is a legit purchase and does all the hard work for you. There is also this Polish website that makes exe wrappers for a ton of Amiga games so you can just run them with no fuss.

Average Current Price/Amount I Would Pay: 150 or so for a 500/100 dollars.

Update: Forums user Police Automaton has some great technical info here: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3577352&userid=0&perpage=40&pagenumber=17#post430335634 It continues in a couple of the following posts. I highly recommend said posts!

Intel 386-Pentium DOS/Windows 95:

My still working Tandy 425 SX DOS PC. Upgrades include 16 megs of RAM from the original 2 megs, 3 button mouse, an extra 210 megabyte hard drive, replacement black 3.5" floppy drive, Creative Labs 8 speed CDROM and Soundblaster 32. Oh, and a bigger flat glass CRT monitor.

Description: Starting with the 386 series of CPU chips, Intel (and AMD and Cyrix) based machines on the DOS compatibles standard really began destroying the computer market for anyone else. Their expandability meant any holes could be filled, and their near constant standard and being almost everywhere meant more and more people were buying them. And all the developers who still were making primarily computer games jumped ship from the normal home computer market. For our purposes the 386 25mhz machines with an MCGA or VGA video card through 1995 and the arrival of the Windows 95 graphical operating system will be the 16 bit DOS era. Or as I like to call it "The Last Days of DOS".

Specs: Given the depth and breadth of PCs during this rough 8 odd year timespan it is nearly impossible to lock down specs. There really wasn't any Tandy 1000 series of machine as a good baseline. IBM was quickly falling out of the market entirely. See me in the Recommended Model section for my opinion of a good machine setup!

My Experience: Everyone was going PC. All the good games were going PC. So in the Navy I bought my first PC, a 486 25 with 2 megabytes of RAM, Windows 3.1, SVGA capable video (with only 256K of video RAM so really just VGA), 2 button mouse, .44 megabyte 3.5" floppy drive, MS DOS 5.0, 130 megabyte hard drive, 2400 baud modem, keyboard, 13-14" monitor, and not a whole lot else! I spent the next 3-6 months upgrading the thing as I could afford to from the original 1500 dollar price in 93 with a sound card and good joystick. Later on I would put in way more RAM, another hard drive, a better sound card so I could have a CDROM interface, and the Overdrive chip slots which allowed for faster CPUs in your older machine. Mine currently has a 133mhz chip. I loved the hell out of this machine and I still do. So many fantastic games and its really the only thing that kept me sane in Naval A school.

Recommended Model: To do the best justice to this era of DOS computing I recommend MSDOS 6.22, Windows 3.1, a Gravis Gamepad Pro, 1.44 megabyte 3.5" floppy drive, a CH Flightstick Pro, a Sound Blaster 32, a 4 or 8 speed CDROM drive, 16 megabytes of RAM, 500-1 gigabyte of hard drive space, a 3 button mouse, a good SVGA video card of the era (Diamond Stealths were well regarded.) and probably a Pentium class CPU. Your best bet would be the MMX series which were early Windows 9x era CPUs. A 166mhz would do nicely. If you don't really need THE last days of DOS, a 50-100 mhz 486 machine would be just dandy though a few of the last games won't run well.

Release Date/Original Price: 386-486 machines started coming out in the mid-late 80s and the Pentium class machines showed up around 95 or so. A decent rig back then was 1500-2500 dollars US.

Notable Games: Oh man where to even START? Wolfenstein 3d! Doom! Eye of the Beholder! Dark Sun! Wizardry Crusaders of the Dark Savant! Wing Commander! X Com! If it was worth playing from 1988-1995 it was probably on the PC. Unless you are some Nintendo loving console scum. The games of your youth were inferior to the games of my Naval career.

Emulation Options: DosBox has your back again. Also online game sellers like Steam, GOG, and DotEmu have a lot of great games cheap already preconfigured to run at a click if you don't want to bother with Dosbox and everything that goes with it.

Average Current Price/Amount I Would Pay: DOS machines were so bloody common back then and its somewhat easy to sometimes find an old machine for FREE or nearly so. But if you have to go on ebay or just have to have certain hardware and such maybe 125 or so for a decent setup. Don't forget a number of modern things work on the old machines too! Just keep some PS/2-USB dongles handy!

There we go! All the computers you really should care about.

Captain Rufus fucked around with this message at 08:54 on Feb 5, 2017

Captain Rufus
Sep 16, 2005

CAPTAIN WORD SALAD

OFF MY MEDS AGAIN PLEASE DON'T USE BIG WORDS

UNNECESSARY LINE BREAK

Part 4: Resources

Well now that we know a few interesting facts that don't mean much because I just gave you a big old pile of numbers (hey just like PC video cards!), we should probably give you some links of places and people who can both inform and enlighten you. Or sell you things you don't need. Basically this whole thread series...

Amiga Forever The legit Amiga and C64 emulators with legit software. drat fine emulation packages.

Ancient DOS Games A good video series devoted to old DOS titles and how to run them in the modern age with DOSBox.

Armchair Arcade A general website/blog/youtube channel/podcast. The three main guys behind the site have written actual books on old gaming and between them have a stupidly huge amount of computer and console hardware. While they can be a little on the awkward side in their videos, their info is really good.

(One of them is responsible for the excellent computer RPG history book Dungeons and Desktops. I recommend that too!)

Atari Age The premiere Atari fansite on the net. While more console oriented than computer, their forums are a good resource for Atari computer bits. They also have a store that sells repros and homebrews.

Atarimania A site almost more useful than Atari Age. Ok it IS. Information and scans and downloads of almost every bloody Atari related thing you can think of. Magazines, games, manuals. It will do you right.

C64.com A great site covering C64 games with downloads. Massive site. If they don't have it you probably don't want it.

CRPG Addict The blog about a man attempting to play for at least 6 hours every single RPG on a DOS/Windows machine in chronological order. All of them. Well worth a read.

http://www.youtube.com/user/thesman32/videos Eight Bit Battles A Youtube channel showing some gameplay of the game game over every 8 bit machine Thesman32 knows of. Hint: Its usually a tie between the NES and C64 as to which version of a game is worth a drat. A fine way to make Spectrum, Apple II, and Amstrad fans feel bad about their childhoods.

Digital Antiquarian This exhaustive blog is a major historical look at the earliest days of computers and computer gaming, sometimes with old Apple II downloads so you can play the games the same way the people of that era did. If you want history this is the history-est!

Dotemu A site similar to GoG in selling you nice classic games made to automatically run on your new machine dirt cheap.

Gog.com You wanna buy old games with no DRM cheap and already set up to play if a DOS title so no effort needed? Well GoG has your back!

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgeSfaLXS8Macm3ddzYF_wg Gaming History Source Kind of like 8 Bit Battles except he compares nearly EVERY version of a game ever made including arcade originals where appropriate, and sometimes even modern remakes. Which means some videos take a good HOUR or more. Like as of this updated link suite, TETRIS. And I am sure it still isn't covering every version!

Joy to Key A good program that lets one make one's emulator have more buttons on your Genesis controller when playing those multibutton computer games. Never again will Druidconfound you with all its keyboard commands.

Lazy Game Reviews Clint may be a bit goofy looking and may every now and then have a beard approaching that of a ZZ Top tribute band, but this guy knows his retro computing stuff. His youtube video reviews of many classic computers are probably THE best overviews of the machines I have ever seen online, and he does a fair job with his normal game reviews which are usually old DOS titles.

Old Computers A good information site on nearly every computer ever made. This and Wikipedia were my big two sources for information.

Pix's Origin Adventures One blogger's quest to play every Origin Systems related game and every version, plus scans of nearly every review, cluebook, and anything else related to the company that Ultima and Wing Commanderbuilt. This guy does the Lord's work.

Polaventris An excellent old school game video maker similar to Steve Benway but normally uses a capture card to get his video, and does a TON of Commodore 64 games. He even takes requests! I believe he is from Finland so he does have an accent if that bothers you, but he does a good job. I have even remembered the names of C64 games I forgot thanks to his videos. (And seen what version of a game I would want on what machine too!)

Psytronik Software Folks who make new software for modern systems, focusing on the Commodore 64. Even have digital download versions if you would rather just emulate.

http://replacementdocs.com/news.php Replacement Docs is one of the many places you can well.. find replacement documentation and sometimes the clue books for your favorite old games you may have lost said documentation from, or just want a PDF version to put on a tablet or smartphone whilst your computer is actually playing said game. Note my antivirus does say the place is iffy but I haven't had any issues. But still worth letting everyone know.

Retrogaming Roundup This is a forum and podcast (that runs for a good 6 HOURS each month!) connected to the retro auction site ]i]GameGavel[/i]. While it is a general retro podcast these guys have a ton of info. However they are three upper middle/lower upper class guys in their 40s so their humor might be offensive to some, and they are a bit out of touch sometimes. One of them owns multiple cars, one of which is a Ferrari. But if you like your retro gaming stuff a bit on the cool uncle who lets you have his porno mags side this is a great listen each month. They are also working on a retro gaming magazine Kickstarter. Sadly NES smug hipsters like Jeremy Parish will also be doing articles so I don't know if I am onboard.

Retrogaming Times A fantastic newsletter like magazine that has been running since the 90s. Covering all sorts of retro gaming news, plus excellent comparison articles about multiple games over multiple formats. Still running though under new management last I knew.

Retrospec This is a site mostly based around PC Windows and Mac remakes of mostly UK Spectrum classic titles. If you want to really play Manic Minerwithout the hassle of a Spectrum and would also like improved graphics this is a great site to check out some really great remakes.

RPG Codex This site SHOULD be a place I call home. They are one of the biggest computer RPG sites on the net with tons of LPs and info about RPGs, and the kind I love the most, Turn Based. Yet.. they love to be "ironic and edgy" which ruins their message with elitism, homophobia, and Hitler jokes.

Steve Benway This guy does a TON of video plays of old video and computer games. His series on Atari 8 bit titles got me to get a machine for myself! While he does the "sin" of mostly just filming his TV screen with a camcorder, it works. His personality is likable, and its pretty amusing to rage on our UK friend who never really looks at instructions before playing any of these games, making it a good way of showing one's first experience with a new game. Well in the old days before every title had a tutorial mission anyhow!

TanRu Nomad A great video reviewer of Apple II stuff, focusing on the IIgs. He isn't prolific, but if you are interested in the machine Apple failed, he has got you covered. Also shows some really neat obscure computer hardware that isn't even always Apple based.

The Ultima Codex The fansite/news network involving the best RPG series ever, Ultima. If you need the info they have it. Plus fan patches, remakes, other fansites, ect.

The Videogame Critic While mainly a console review site, the guy does have decent Commodore 64 and Atari 8 bit review sections if you want a good short review of a lot of classic games.

Snakedance adds: https://archive.org/details/computermagazines All sorts of old computer magazines for download? Maps! Reviews! Peeks and Pokes! UK mags mocking the French! Prices listed for stuff! This is swell and I need to spend some time here. Especially if they have some of those strategy pack in magazinelets like you see in my ID posting someplace below.. I have yet to go take a look but I hear PLENTY of good things.

Tuluk adds: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3577352&userid=0&perpage=40&pagenumber=3#post422101560 From page 3 his hints and tips to make some CD ROM games that used both audio and game at once work properly and how to do said work. It involves LINUX. I shan't judge him for that. :v

Madpanda and Others (Including me but I forgot like a shameful person full of shame) adds: http://www.vogons.org/ VOGONS! Very Old Games On Newer Systems A forum dedicated to getting old PC games working. Except its in a forums form so it can be a massive pain to find help for the game you want and the problems you might be having. But with a little patience and a little searching you might find the help you need.

Part 5: Emulation n poo poo
While I have mentioned buying computers to play classic games. However there is an easier and more fun way. EMULATION.

And if you want to play DOS or Tandy DOS games nothing beats the glorious DOSBOX with the somewhat slow and clunky but super handy D-FEND RELOADED.

Now as folks who follow me on Facebook or deal with me in synirc.net's #retrochat IRC channel know I have bought a MISB Tandy Color Computer version of classic mech action game Thexder. I even found my old Amiga disk of it.




This was MISB for 15 dollars. It is no longer MISB.

Well as a user of DOSBOX I can play my classic PC games in a super easy way, saving me time, money, and space. Plus with programs like JoytoKey I can effectively have as many buttons on a joystick as I own sticks with multiple buttons. Which OWNS for Commodore 64 and Amiga titles but can be handy for classic titles that loathe various DOSBOX settings or never even had joystick controls!

Yet many games have odd graphics options and D Fend has a dozen or more choices for how to display your software.

And remember how I mentioned the special graphics and music options of the Tandy 1000 series? Well now you can play games that support it! (Note for Tandy sound you need to have Tandy graphics options.)



My recommended default settings for Thexder in Tandy mode. Keeps them pixels. Note 3x is my windowed option for every graphics option here that supports it. If you don't mind 1/4th or so of my 1080p monitor settings in size on monitor.



While there may be slight tweaking, in general its as accurate to the pure graphics output you can get.



You can even go with a CRT mode to simulate playing on a well.. CRT monitor. Might be a good use for those classic CGA games that use Apple II/Tandy Color Computer styled tricks to get more colors out of a limited system.



Or you can go with TV/Composite Monitor styled scan lines. Many classic gamers INSIST on them. I do not.



For a not perfectly accurate look if you really hate pixels there is Advanced Upscaling..



With Sharpening if you want some pixels and sorta scanlines..



Or you can go Super 2Sai which does not allow for the 3x image size and instead only doubles it. There are a couple types of this and honestly I don't want to spend all bloody day getting to this point in Level 1 of Thexder to show it to you.



My default DOSBOX settings. The graphics are dreadful and the sound? PC SPEAKER BEEP MUSIC. The beautiful if somewhat repetitive music of Thexder turned into musical bleating. It is to be shameful.



Practically zero difference for this game in CRT mode. It just doesn't really matter.

I could probably try more options for Non Tandy Thexder but even Super2Sai seemed to make little to no effect.

This should give you some ideas though. DOSBOX is an amazing program that really allows for DOS gaming to be more fun if somewhat less authentic. However being able to do things like run fan made assist programs like All Seeing Eye,


When I dungeon crawl I do so in STYLE!

or being able to have cluebooks open, or even a program to make or keep your own maps on screen, or use screen capturing or video making programs to show off some of your old favorites is a super great thing. Also floppy disks and their drives are dying off just due to age and the elements. Optical disks or all your games saved to a flash drive is a way of preserving them.

Though to be fair this little entry does make me want to go buy a later model Tandy 1000 anyhow. I self medicate with buying stuff I do not need...

And let's see what EOB looks like in other graphics modes, eh?



This here is EGA graphics. Kind of uggo but.. tolerable really. If one hadn't seen how it looks in VGA this wouldn't seem bad at all. Still looks nearly as good if not a bit better than Dungeon Master, which came out on a 16 color Atari ST in 1987.



Tandy 16 Color Mode. It looks a touch better but otherwise nearly identical. The sound is pretty nice and rich compared to Adlib/Soundblaster 1 but I am no golden ear or anything.



OH GOD KILL IT WITH FIRE MY EYES. It is pretty much the same resolution as Tandy but the color limitations are hideous. 4 Colors at a time in CGA and it usually seems as if BLACK AND WHITE are always 2 of the 4 with the normal CGA palette choice being cyan and lavender here. Since NUCLEAR GREEN AND ORANGE is even more painful to look at.

These posts ought to be enough to get the Retrocomputer Gaming Thread going! I am reserving the next post for OTHER IMPORTANT poo poo I FORGOT but otherwise, this thread now belongs to you goons!

Share your memories! Inform me of stuff above I am either partially or completely incorrect on! Show us your retro computer goodies! Ask for technical help! Give technical help!

Captain Rufus fucked around with this message at 09:14 on Nov 27, 2013

Captain Rufus
Sep 16, 2005

CAPTAIN WORD SALAD

OFF MY MEDS AGAIN PLEASE DON'T USE BIG WORDS

UNNECESSARY LINE BREAK

Post Reserved for whatever important poo poo I forgot up above. Or the most important stuff the thread should need updating with and doesn't fit into the above.

Bing the Noize
Dec 21, 2008

by The Finn


Jesus Christ I've been waiting for this thread for SO LONG. The Retro Gaming thread is great but it's not the place to nerd out about old computes. Post some motherfuckin' old computers

If I were you I'd have put a shoutout to Lotharek's store, he sells the HxC Floppy Emulators among other cool things for old computers. Also the uIEC/SD and 1541 Ultimate II are both SD card interfaces for the C64 which are infinitely useful for anyone who still rocks a C64 in this day and age. Have a picture of my C64C with a MIDI cartridge (the MSSIAH!) I have a 1541 Ultimate II on preorder but can't wait to actually place the order



Now that I'm gonna be able to play poo poo that requires a 1541 to work, it's become a table on my soldering table



Here's my IIgs Woz Edition and a Mac Plus, along with a floppy drive and both Bard's Tales



Here's my Atari 1040 STE. I love the gently caress out of this thing. I have a modified Sony floppy drive I wanna drop in for 1.44MB support. I have a SM124 but didn't picture it.



This is my childhood Apple //c and the first computer I ever used. I have the matching monitor in a different room s I didn't picture it.



Also got a Classic as well as a Classic II.



Here's something none of you nerds (or very few) have ever seen before. A Performa 640CD DOS Compatible. It came with a daughtercard with a 486DX2 if memory serves me right. It was the first computer with a GUI my family ever owned, and I played the everloving poo poo out of some DOS games on this thing. The daughtercard had great Sound Blaster emulation too.



TV tuners too!



I just missed a $40 Coleco Adam on Craigslist and my floor is messy with 1000 cables because the ~studio~ is getting rearranged

Bing the Noize fucked around with this message at 03:31 on Oct 29, 2013

iastudent
Apr 22, 2008



One of these days I'll own a MSX. I just have nightmares about paying import costs on one from Japan. I thought I had a line on an affordable one but since it was coming from Europe, of course it would be PAL.

And don't get me started on what they go for domestically on ebay.

Sex Vicar
Oct 11, 2007

I thought this was a swingers party...


I need to find the old C64. I fear I'm missing the tape deck cable though. I miss Head Over Heels and Paradroid.

Also this thread needs some good mood music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkns_VIWGQA

Captain Rufus
Sep 16, 2005

CAPTAIN WORD SALAD

OFF MY MEDS AGAIN PLEASE DON'T USE BIG WORDS

UNNECESSARY LINE BREAK

Since I am gonna use that one extra post for important stuff we all came up with, I figured this post can be where I inform and educate about the Atari 8 bit line.
Mostly in comic book format. Some of the #retrochat goons have seen this info before from my blog, but now the full story can be told:

RUFUS' TRIBUTE TO THE ATARI 8 BIT COMPUTERS















Another couple options we could have tried:
(As both of these will become increasingly irrelevant over the next few years I am merely mentioning them for completeness sake though I may go back and try them out later for laughs.)

1: Video out through a DVD or VCR. Best Electronics recommends this one. Its adding yet another stupid thing to be powered on and plugged in. I can't be bothered. And my DVD player is my PS3 with all its HDMI goodness.

2: RF or S Video through an SDTV. S Video and an SDTV would probably be ideal but my SDTV with S Video is halfway down a flight of stairs in a hall with no power source. And it weighs a good 100 pounds or so as its a console type and 25". My 19" SDTV only has RF and it is in an awkward place for anything outside of a Gamecube stacked on top of a DVD and a VHS player in some unholy Tower of Hanoi configuration. (Its like the Lament Configuration but with Mario. "I've-a got so much to show you-a! Except for Earthbound! We-a don't talk about that game. Don't worry, we can play "Imagine Babiez!"

And to wash that image out with another one, here is a bit of extra info on our aged and yellowed keyboard:



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOvC8HF65bw
Just a video for this, taken from the Altirra emulator. I almost did a comic version but here I think the video and the few captions I added do a good enough job. I like the fact the machine has a self test so you can check some basic things out yourself. Provided its working enough to turn on mind you.

Next up, is the 1050 Floppy Drive and DOS 2.5.

Sadly the place I get my emulated versions of does not have an image of DOS so its screenshots from the monitor. Don't worry its pretty minor.


As we have seen in my intro comic here is our Atari 1050 5 1/4 enhanced density single sided floppy drive that also needs its own power plug. There was a further revision of the 5 1/4 drive family but its much rarer even if its design is more in tune with my XE series computer. You flip the power switch in the lower left hand corner on. The activity light above it comes on and will go out in under 10 seconds.

You turn the drive on BEFORE you turn the computer on. It is important.


We then are going to pop in Atari DOS. In our case the best official option, DOS 2.5. There are later versions and optional 3rd party versions and even drive mod kits you can get. But we are going traditional. As I may have mentioned you can using single or double density disks in the drive and you have to notch each side you want to write to, flipping the diskette over. The seller had already made a backup copy of DOS 2.5 and we will use it, keeping the original from wear and tear.


Once we pop the disk in and it locks, we turn the little lever down and the activity light pops on for a moment, letting us know if the disk is in general ok and ready to be used. Once it turns off, we can then switch on the computer and our disk autoboots if its an Atari formatted disk with an autobooting program of some kind. Like a DOS.sys disk or a game.


As I have a 128K system (hence the name 130xe, its little brother being the 65xe) it sets me up a 64K RAM disk as I boot to speed up operations. Which is handy for programming or making disk procedures a bit snappier. A second disk drive is even more useful though. But one of those will run me a good 50 bucks or so right now. More than I am willing to pay when for about twice that I can have an SD Card solution which loads ultra fast and won't require increasingly old and fragile magnetic disks or put wear and tear on equally old disk drives with motors and ancient belts.


In way less than a minute DOS and the RAM Disk is ready to go and we are at our Basic prompt. Typing the letters above brings us to the DOS menu.


And now we have our DOS prompt with all your options, most of which and the selections afterwards being really simple and self explanatory, with more info in the Drive/DOS book. K and L are for hardcore programming bits. A disk format takes about 2 minutes, and Duplicate Disk sadly shows that all my working floppy disk games have copy protection so I can't make nice working backups and am forced to use my live disks. Which frightens me. But remember this is the 2.5 DOS. In 1984. Its already more advanced than what the Commodore, Apple 2, or MSDOS machines had to work with. Commands in a nice menu system all ready to go.

That's just quality.

My only issue is that instead of showing bytes or kilobytes of disk space it uses sectors. And our enhanced density is 999 a side. Its like Microsoft Points math but 21 years early!

As to other disk games? In general they load pretty quick, from 30 seconds to around 2 or so though some titles have multi loads where one bit loads, reach a menu, something else has to load. But its not so much the Atari's fault. Most of the Atari software only needed 8K till like 82, 16-32K in 83, and 48K for the rest of the system's lifespan. There were games and apps that needed more or less during these timeframes but in general developers always coded for the lowest machine because there were more of said machines sold. Obviously more RAM equals faster loading (once the initial boot was complete anyhow. Kind of.), more complex games, and better looking games.

Officially these are the number of titles using each level of RAM according to Mobygames and the 726 listed titles they have on record, 299 of which have their RAM requirements recorded:

8K : 10
16K : 62
24K : 11
32K : 39
48K : 158
64K : 20

Its a pretty wild array, with 48K being the most popular, and 16K the second most. The Atari machines had a variety of different RAM builds with 2 active machines for each of the 3 lines (well 3 in the final if you count the XEGS which had the same RAM as the 65XE) and some easier to install more than others.

But really if you want to play the most programs a 65XE, 130XE, or a XEGS will cover you with their 64, 128, and 64K of RAM.

The original 800 and 400 had 8K each (400 originally intended to have 4 but RAM came down in price) with the 800 having slots for more RAM and eventually being shipped with 48K by the end of that line's life. The 400s eventually came with 16K options and Atari Service Centers could even bring them up to 48K as well. (Though the 800 with its better keyboard and plug n play memory and monitor outputs was still the more expensive albeit more desirable choice.)

The XL series had 16K for the 600XL, 64K for the 800XL, and 64 for the 1200XL which was quickly phased out due to massive incompatibilities with older software. (The X00s still had some incompatibilities but not as many and a Translator Disk could fix some of them. The XEs have the same issue. I may have run into 2 titles already that aren't listed as incompatible that are. As is I can't buy GORF or Demon Attack until I foot up for an original X00 series machine. I may have found a place to get one cheap though. We will get to that when we can.) What is kind of funny is the 600XL while missing some of the output and port options of the 800XL can actually have MORE RAM than its big brother. A 64K memory expander was made for it that does not work with the 800. So it can reach 80K while the 800XL cannot! (There was a plan for memory packs for it and a box to hold multiple expansions that never came out. Atari was BIG in the early 80s for coming up with cool kit that never made it out of prototype stages.)

We can sort of see why lower RAM amounts were used and even why 64K wasn't that common. When most of your customer base has a lower spec machine you want to go for them so you get the widest possible base of people capable and willing to buy your product.

Heck, even the 810, and 1050 drives weren't all that common for a while, with users, especially those poor European folk settling for cassette drives. (The 410 and 1010 being Atari's drives. Most European computers till the 16 bit era used tapes as defaults and most of the software is available as such. When it even was available on disk the price was usually 50% greater. A 10 Pounds Sterling Commodore 64 game on tape was 15 pounds on disk. Or going by the rough 1 Pound to 1.50 US Dollars we see a 15 dollar tape game or the same game on disk for 22.50, ignoring inflation. Keep in mind floppy drives cost an insane amount, usually 2-3 times the cost of the machine and its easy to see why Europe just dealt with the 10-20 minutes most tape programs took to load and all the hassles tape brought with it.)

This is why so much software was available on cartridge, especially from Atari itself. From a collector's standpoint this is pretty awesome though. You could just buy the main machine and grab one of your Atari 2600 controllers, hook it to your TV, and still have plenty of games to play back in the day. And now. Plus given that cartridges are VERY durable and the worst even old ones need is a quick cleaning you have a machine that will be fun out of the box and less worry for the durability of all the moving parts in a floppy drive and the equally if not moreso fragile magnetic floppy disks that can be damaged in dozens of ways.

Hell, I have Amiga and DOS PC 3.5 disks that died merely being stored in my bedroom!

This is another reason I chose the Atari 8 bits over going back to the machine of my youth, the mighty Commodore 64. There was TONS of cartridge games released and no need for worrying about all the PAL and probably incompatible with a US machine anyhow tape games, or hunting down a working 1541/1571 Floppy Drive to run American games. The C64 didn't have nearly the amount of cartridge games. And unlike the C64's Europe only Game System version, the XEGS actually got a strong software release catalog on cartridge for it. (And was actually a full bore computer instead of the stripped down thing Commodore made. And came out in the actual 8 bit era and didn't try competing with the Genesis and SNES.)

The Atari was mainly a US system and was THE gamer's computer from around 1980-1984. Its' games and popularity was usually the winner in Electronic Games magazine reader polls month after month.

(In part of my ongoing project I did a little comic series based on a Secret Santa thing I got into. We are skipping the core toy story and getting right to the educational and informative bits.)









Oh yeah in case it wasn't clear: The pictures of the Atari machines in this installment came from Wikipedia and all looked to be under the Creative Commons License. Because I don't own most of them and the ones I do are either broken, semi broken, under piles of stuff while being semi broken, or yellowed with age.

Oh. This is a GAMES thread in a GAMES forum. Let me show you my Atari 8 bit computer game collection:
First the parts that are all alphabetized n poo poo:


When I started my Summer 2012 game organization and photo thing (some of which has appeared on my blog, others still just as photos on Facebook) I tried to organize alphabetically and by type. At this time these were my cartridge titles. Centipede, Gateway to Apshai (one of the first action RPGs!), Miner 2049er, Pac Man (a good game. How the computers could get this amazing title and the Atari 2600 got such an awful port is beyond me. OH WAIT CORPORATE STUPIDITY.), the best version of River Raid, a good version of Up n Down (but C64 is better. Prettier sprites and not the flicker.) for the loose cartridges. For the boxed we have the action strategy classic Archon, the ok Gauntlet clone Dark Chambers which is MUCH prettier on the Atari 7800, an interesting turn based wargame in Eastern Front, a "Frig it, its cheap and I am getting other things from the seller" deal flight sim in Jumbo Jet Pilot, and the unfairly maligned Return of the Jedi Death Star Battle, a game I loved as a kid on the 2600. I still think it is a fun bit of blasting.


And my loose disks. Ghostbusters which is solid but not a patch on the C64 version (itself outshone by the Sega Master System), Operation Whirlwind which is another wargame, Pole Position which is a great port of a classic arcade game (and honestly more playable than most emulated collections of it today!), Rescue at Rigel which is another Apshai Engine RPG, 3 freeware titles thanks to a fine Texan from Atari Age sending me disk versions. (Crownland which is technically amazing but is almost unplayable if you aren't on a PAL machine due to sprite flicker, His Dark Majesty which is a buggy but great wargame, and Yoomp! which is an absolutely BRILLIANT game.) The Temple of Apshai Trilogy which is a vastly improved remake of the first 3 Apshai games (at least to 1986 standards), and the Microprose WW2 Submarine simulator Silent Service.


Combat Leader is one of the earliest Real Time Strategy titles, F-15 Strike Eagle was the first major Flight Simulator release from Microprose, Gemstone Warrior is an Action RPG that is buggy as sin, Jupiter Mission is a weird but innovative series of minigames (programmed in Basic because Avalon Hill were slackers) set up into a grand adventure over a buttload of disks, Ogre is an amazing rendition of the tabletop classic, Pinball Construction Set is the real founder of the Construction Set and video Pinball subgenres, and Pitstop II on the Commodore 64 is an amazing arcade racing game. Sadly my SEALED COPY had somehow been stored in a way that rubbed and ruined the disk. Poopy.


Panzer Jagd is another wargame as is VC. (I think we can guess the topic of each.) Star Raiders is the amazing for its time first person space flight simulator. Wargame Construction Set does what it says on the tin. (It is just less pretty than the ST version, but still way more flexible than WCS 2 and 3 would be on DOS/Win 9x era PCs.) And then the at the time 3 Cassette titles of which I got Fort Apocalypse to load ONCE because tape loading is pure hell. I covered Fort Apocalypse as a pair of Youtube videos you might want to watch on my channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/CaptainRufus . Zaxxon I never got to load at all. Temple of Apshai is the original A8 bit version of this founding member of the electronic RPG family. And it was the apparently rare single tape side loader. And my annoying 1010 drive ate it. RAAAGE.

Now for the games I got after this organization. Now that my collection is getting to the point it no longer fits at all in the small plastic storage tub with lid. (Even though the disk holder for the loose games sits on top.)

Again, forgive the non Atari 8 bit game pictures in the shots. I try to save picture space and count this way. Plus as I tend to get games piecemeal here and there I would have even longer gaps between pictures taken.


First off is Crush, Crumble, and Chomp! Its a semi real time strategy game using the Apshai engine (again!) where you play as a giant monster getting to stomp around cities. The C64 would have an action game sequel.


Great American Cross Country Road Race is an ok for its time racing game. Mail Order Monsters I haven't gotten to try out yet but its a mixture of Archon, Pokemon, and the previous Crush, Crumble, and Chomp. Telengard is another AVALON HILL ONLY PROGRAMS IN BASIC game, this time an RPG which is one of the earliest in the genre, another Roguelike styled game based on many of the early mainframe and PLATO type network RPGs folks in our Defense, Science, and University industries might have putzed around with on lunchbreaks. (We would all never play videogames during work time, especially not with taxpayer dollars. Nope.)


We see some Tandy Color Computer games that I have before owning the system (I learned my lesson from this Atari mayhem!) and then into the A8 yet again! I haven't even loaded any of these up so I don't even know if they work. I have too many projects both fun and essential, not to mention some days and times I just don't have the heart to do anything. Depression is a BASTARD. Eidolon is one of the first FPS titles as we might know them today, Jumpman is a classic puzzle platformer that was hugely popular in the early 80s, Curse of Ra is an Apshai Engine expansion that seems to have a pirated copy of actual Temple of Apshai meaning my ownership of the eaten tape copy now has some use due to the manual and stuff, and Battle of Chickamauga is another wargame.

And of course those games from last February's Ebay shenanigans: (And friends. Those being Autoduel and International Karate. Got em elsewhere.)


Auto Duel whose character disk sadly isn't working right (it is an action RPG based on Car Wars and was one of the first Commodore 64 games I wanted but never got.), Chicken which is a fun little Paddle type game in a lovely translucent red cartridge, Dig Dug the classic arcade game, Flight Simulator II which is the legendary simulator whose installments kept coming up as far as last year's Microsoft Flight, International Karate which is another drat tape game I can't get to bloody load (think a Karate Champ sort of fighting game), Ms Pac Man which continues the Atari computers getting good Pac Man ports, Summer Games which is that old classic sports series that isn't the wagglefest of Track n Field, and Super Huey which is a combat helicopter simulator that isn't half as good as Gunship which was what I got the Christmas I got my Commodore 64 instead of Auto Duel.


Here we have Racing Destruction Set which is the classic arcade racer/construction set that much like Pinball Construction Set would get later sequels from Electronic Arts in the Genesis/SNES days, Realm of Impossibility which is a neat action strategy adventure game, and Superman which is confusing and stupid.


GORF on cartridge with now proper digital joystick controls instead of the gonzo 5200 analog play, and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein! A game I have been hunting for a good year but it usually goes for 2-3 times what I am willing to pay. Even though this is just a budget rerelease it will cover me nicely.

Where my Atari 8 bit collecting is so far:

Well, for one thing I need more time/mental energy to not only try out the games to make sure they all work (so far only Autoduel and Pitstop II don't work and Autoduel may be my fault. Power strip stuff when it was saving my character. I just need a new Player disk!) but to properly learn and ENJOY the games. Right now most of these titles I haven't played for more than 20-30 minutes each outside a few of them.

But that is an issue with my game and media collections as a whole. I buy more than I make use of, which is probably one of the reasons I am so cheap with how much I am willing to pay. And then add in storage space, self loathing for buying such silliness, and time to utilize it and its a big give and take situation.

Sure I could just go to one of the great sites full of Atari games and documentation and use like the excellent http://www.virtualdub.org/altirra.html emulator, but I prefer to be legal and legit as possible.

Even though some games I want like Bounty Bob Strikes Back, Wolfenstein, H.E.R.O., Ultima Series, and SSI RPG/Wargames all tend to go for more than I am willing to pay. (Activision's Pastfinder is another case. A case where I have basically decided I probably won't ever own it even though it looks cool.)

For me, 10-25 dollars is around my sweet spot for boxed and complete games. I am very happy to go under that (obviously) if possible but some of the above even loose go for twice that!

I am trying to be a bit smarter and all. Heck I am also collecting for the Tandy Color Computer 3, and Texas Intruments TI 99/4a and I won't buy either machine till I get the games I want for a good price. Same with the MSX 2, Lynx, and Jaguar. Once I get the games I want for the prices I am willing to pay I will investigate getting the machine. Or just feeling like I can then emulate the games since I own the game and all.

(Of course I also have other retro electronic game collecting sub themes I do too. Like Alien franchise, Batman, Castlevania, Hobby Game conversions, and Ultima.)

And yeah, I should probably get a solid state drive solution for the machine too. http://www.lotharek.pl/product.php?pid=23 to use for when even the floppy drive decides to die or the magnetic disks fart out. As is my cassette games almost never load period and I am always unsure if its the drive, the tapes, or BOTH.

But it is all part of the fun and challenge. Its not just about playing the games. Its not just about amassing a good collection. It isn't just about the history. It is all of it plus the DO IT YOURSELF aspect of maintenance and the authenticity of playing on real hardware.

It is a serious love/hate relationship!








Well I haven't quite made good on this installment but I did a bit of play:






Have YOU played Atari (computers) today?

I play it but not as much as I want to. Course I don't even HAVE a machine for my other Tandy Color Computer
games yet:


No CoCo 3! No Downland! No tape drive for Pooyan! I mean I bought most of those games over a YEAR
ago, so Silpheed and Thexer just stare me in the face.

I suppose it beats the TI 99. All I have is Tunnels of Doom. No machine OR tape drive or controllers.
Just one legendary game.

VVV I hate you SO loving much right now Mercury. Look at some of my C64 games, all lonely and unplayable by me:








(I guess it beats the Amiga. Dunno if the disks are dead, the machine's drive is dead or BOTH.)

Captain Rufus fucked around with this message at 04:28 on Oct 29, 2013

Mercury Crusader
Apr 20, 2005

You know they say that all demons are created equal, but you look at me and you look at Pyro Jack and you can see that statement is not true, hee-ho!

As far as old gaming stuff goes, I don't really dabble much into old computer hardware like I do with old consoles and handhelds. It's something I'd like to get into more, but it's outside of what I'm used to. I do have this, though:




A Commodore SX-64! Bought it back around '08 for about $20. Works like a charm! Too bad I still don't have software to go with it, but I know it works. It runs BASIC like a boss.

I have been thinking about getting an Apple II or equivalent for stuff like the MacVenture titles (Deja Vu 1 and 2, Shadowgate, and Uninvited). Other than that, I've been mostly messing around with DOSBOX on my PC.

EDIT: I also own this:



I bought this for $5, and you'd think it's CIB from that picture, but the original owner apparently lost the power cable that goes with it, so I have no idea if it works. I figured it was too much to ask for the Intellivision to supply power to both itself and that add-on.

Mercury Crusader fucked around with this message at 04:26 on Oct 29, 2013

Bing the Noize
Dec 21, 2008

by The Finn


What this thread needs is more AutoDuel. I mean tell me if you saw that artwork on Steam or GOG or whatever you WOULDN'T buy it on the spot before even reading what it was about.



Autoduel has to be one of the first RPG's where you're in a car the whole time. You also have frightening gangs and vigilantes warring on highways and you gotta fight to survive. It also has permadeath.



gently caress yes check them graphics

Also I am taking this space to shouts out to the first game I ever played, except my memory of it is in black/green only.

vkeios
May 7, 2007







i'm definitely prepared for some mac gaming!


..Unfortunately, this powerbook isn't very portable anymore.


My meager floppy collection and also that cf-pcmcia adapter which is essential for getting stuff on the SE (the 5300c can write 800k floppies).


And lastly a closeup of my lovely SE. its got a broke-rear end 20 mb hd in it, so I'm booting off the external there with a whopping 200 mb! ~wow~ ide drive in it.

Captain Rufus
Sep 16, 2005

CAPTAIN WORD SALAD

OFF MY MEDS AGAIN PLEASE DON'T USE BIG WORDS

UNNECESSARY LINE BREAK

^^ Mac SEs were the bane of my existence vkeios. (Ps: Get PT 109 and Lode Runner for it. Plus there was this Sierra Boxing game that was kinda cool.)

While I have a Hobby Games Gone Computer response to Acid Police, it will have to wait for Halloween or so.

For today I bring you most of the rest of my non Ultima related DOS games!

My first computer was the amazing Commodore 64, a 1 mhz, 64 kilobytes of RAM, 1 button Atari type joystick computer that being an American, meant a 5 1/4" single sided floppy disk drive that ran slow as hell because of Commodore's decisions during development of the machine.

I got this little baby in December 1987. However by that time the next year all the computer gaming magazines were more and more covering PC DOS computers. Those 1500-3000+ in 1988 dollar machines that were generally WORSE for gaming than my C64 which cost about a tenth the price. No real audio, 4 Color CGA (or 16 EGA if you were big pimpin), and bad for games of the time analog joysticks. My friend Dave had a Franklin DOS PC and it was just.. eurgh.

Yet the PC was becoming king, while the superior Amiga and Atari ST were left in the dust unless you lived in Europe.

As time went on and it continued to (unjustly) become the de facto home computer audio and graphics continued to improve. In 1993 when I was in the Navy I bought my first machine, a Tandy 486 25.


Frankenstein. My often upgraded 486 that takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Even if certain parts do not...

As time went on I would go from computer to computer, but this special little guy got tons of upgrades over the years as it really was mighty bare bones to start. Modems. Sound and joystick cards. Game controllers. CDROM drives. "Overdrive" chips. More RAM.

It was pretty much the computer that I used for 3-4 years. The Last Days of DOS.

I basically mix Windows 9x-now together so they are mostly beyond this thread, though a couple will show up in the Id and Hobby Games post.

In this series we will be covering DOS games, both CDROM and 3.5 720k-1.44m byte disk formats as that as all this machine could ever have. Sadly I never got a 5 1/4th inch drive meaning Ultima Savage Frontier was never bought as I only saw the 5 1/4 version. And now its worth a TON.

Due to some of the weird ways DOS games and collections were games will only sort of be in alphabetical order, and some will be dual Windows 3.1/95 / DOS formats or in anthologies. Please keep this in mind.

Also keep in mind in some cases I have hardly if ever played some of the games below, or my memories are so hazy of them I simply don't remember much. Most of the games I get even these days are at the sub 20 dollar price point, and some were like 5 bucks at the Navy Exchange back then. I was trying to make up for lost time quite often, getting EGA or CGA games in the days of VGA!

Here we go!


688 Attack Sub is a simulator I barely played. Alien Breed is a (at least my copy) buggy port of the Amiga Gauntlet clone. Bard's Tale 2 is of course the sequel to the legendary Bard's Tale RPG. The Construction Set finally gave DOS BT players lots of color BT fun and an ability to make your own dungeons. Battle Isle 93 I don't think I ever got working. Bioforge is another of the earliest "Survival Horror" action adventures. Budokan is a serious styled fighting game in the pre Street Fighter 2 era. Bullfrog Compilation has Populous, Populous 2, Syndicate, Theme Park, and Powermonger. I think I traded off Populous because I have it on the Genesis.


Card Game Classics is a neat little suite of Windows 3.1 card games. Classic 5 is a set of traditional games. Castles is the fun real time castle building and defending game. Command HQ is a weird RTS that came with my computer along with another title by Dan(i) Bunten to go with the 2400 baud modem. Crime Wave is an action game in the style of NARC. Crusader No Remorse is an isometric action game. Cyber Empires is a real time strategy title. Cyclones is one of the earliest FPS titles with mouse aiming. Darkspyre is an RPG of some sort.


Destruction Derby is a port of the 1st gen Playstation 1 game that REALLY needs a Pentium 100 to play properly. Definitive Wargame Collection includes Warlords, Gold of the Americas, Conquest of Japan, Battles of Napoleon, Decisive Battles of the Civil War, Wargame Construction Set 2: Tanks!, Panzer Battles, D Day, Global Domination, Reach for the Stars, When Two Worlds War, and Sword of Aragon. (Games from SSI, SSG, and Impressions.) I.. haven't really messed with these. Deluxe Paint II Enhanced is more or less shown (disks in storage) because you sort of need it to make art for BTale Construction Set. On the Amiga DPaint was GOD. Not that I can draw mind you.. Duke Nukem 3d Atomic Edition is the legendary FPS that made us forget all about Doom for a while. F-19 Stealth Fighter is the amazing upgrade to the C64's Project Stealth Fighter. Flight Sim Toolkit I never really got to do much but it is apparently capable of making flight simulators. Four Crystals of Trazere is a pretty rad real time isometric RPG.


I have no idea what Essential Frankenstein even IS. Gabriel Knight is a Sierra adventure game. Global Conquest plus the Strategy guide with upgrade disk is the other game that came with the PC. The strat book was purchased separate. Its another weird RTS prototype from Bunten. Gunship 2000 is the sequel to the first computer game I ever bought on my C64. (Cuz my parents weren't willing to get me Autoduel for some reason..) Heimdall 1-2 are odd action RPGs from the UK. King's Bounty is the prototype for the Heroes of Might & Magic turn based wargames. Leisure Suit Larry 3 is another Sierra adventure.


Lemmings is the classic puzzle game that came with my original Sound Blaster. Lightspeed is a cool spaceship fighting/trading sim except I can't find my disks and its a bugger to find replacements online for it. Lucasarts Archives Volume 1 is a huge collection of SCUMM adventure games plus a screensaver. (Ill cover the games included plus other Lucas adventure games next picture.) Magic Candle is a pretty interesting turn based RPG in the Ultima tradition. Master of Orion II is one of the greatest games ever made. A turn based 4x game. (Explore, Exploit, Expand, Exterminate) Might & Magic World of Xeen is the CD compilation of Might & Magic 4-5 which form one gigantic game in the Bard's Tale/Wizardry style. Links is the successor to the Leaderboard series and is still my favorite videogame golf titles. The Microsoft games packs are some Windows 3.1 collections. One has Windows versions of classic Atari Arcade games with some gameplay mods you can use, and the other is more generic Windowsy games. Mile High Club (Sigh) is a suite of flight sims. (Jetfighter II, Wing Commander, F14 Tomcat, Heroes of the 357th, Mig 29, Wing Commander Academy, ATAC, and Megafortress.)


The Powermonger manual from the Bullfrog set they included for some reason, a Cheat/Hint disk, the Star Wars screensaver thingie and 2 issues of Interactive Entertainment which were like an attempt at making a PC games magazine in a multimedia format. I have them here because they have a free game. Walls of Rome, and The Lost Admiral. The latter is a classic turn based wargame. CD Power I don't even know how I got it but its got a pair of games I have never heard of on them. (Tower of Souls and Millennia Altered Destiny) Classic Spectre VR is an ok multiplayer tank sim from some other compilation pack and is currently chilling with the Mile High Club in that case. Full Throttle came with the 8x CDROM Sound Blaster 32 kit I got off Ebay for like 30 bucks when the thing was originally 400 dollars or so. Monkey Island Madness has Monkey Island 1-2 on it and I don't remember how I got it. The rest of the games are Lucasarts adventure games. One of these days I will "get" adventure games..


Back when game magazines sold, and PC gaming wasn't relegated to online digital or mail order sales game magazines had CDs packed in with them. Sometimes they gave you full games. Like Duke 3D! Descent! Star Control 2! Zork 1-3, Red Baron! Battlecruiser 3000AD (DEREK SMART DEREK SMART DE-REK SMART!) Betrayal at Krondor! Sheesh. I am not gonna list all of them. Just click on the pic to see the full sized one. Note some of these disks require Win 95-98 to install the game even if the title was a DOS one.


Another issue in the pre Internet days was getting help for the stupidly hard puzzles in games. Quest for Clues solved that problem for you. Origin Systems published these collections of game solutions for RPG and Adventure titles on the computer. Shay Addams edited it and most of them originally appeared in:


QUESTBUSTERS! A fanzine with reviews, talk, and solutions for the computer game RPG and Adventure genre. Later on another higher quality magazine called Enchanted Realms would do something similar, but classier. Sadly I cannot find anything out about them or find back issues for sale or scanned.

So if any goons have scans or issues to sell of Enchanted Realms get in touch with me!


On the right is an example page from Questbusters while on the left is another tip book, this one just covering RPGs during the time when it was pretty much JUST PCs for computer gaming here in the US. In a lot of ways it is MUCH better than Quest for Clues and has a lot of cool interviews and tips for general RPG play than QfG does. But I love both of them.


Example pages from Enchanted Realms, the Wing Commander 1-2 Strategy Guide plus the two Secret Mission add on disks.


Nomad is kind of like Lightspeed but I never got into it. PCs After Hours (disk pic to come!) is a collection of stuff some business computer user might throw on their 92-94 era PCs to play around with. Power Dolls is a Japanese turn based wargame with mechs. All piloted by women. PT 109 is sadly the CGA version and not the EGA I think I wanted it for. Its a kick rear end PT boat sim anyhow. Played a ton of it on the Votech school's Mac SEs. (About the only things they were good for!) Quest for Glory is the VGA remake of the Sierra Adventure RPG hybrid and it owns. Rise of the Dragon is a point and click adventure with some action elements. Shadowcaster is a FPS adventure game where you can turn into cool monsters. Shadowlands is a rad isometric RPG. Sadly I don't have the Sci Fi sequel.


Siege and the expansion were RTS games. About attacking or defending castles in the same universe as Magic Candle. Shadow of Yserbius/Fates of Twinion were primarily early online Bard's Tale styled MMOs to be played over Sierra's network. But they were offline as well. Okish I guess. Cabal/Sidearms/Street Fighter were CGA/EGA ports of the Capcom classic arcade titles. And kind of pants. Dunno where the disks went. Sorcerian is a translation of the Japanese side scrolling action RPG. It was popular in Japan and got a couple remakes and expansion packs. We got.. bupkis. Spellcasting 201 was a cheeky text adventure with point and click stuff plus pictures. Stunt Island is one of the best flight games ever made. Fly stuff! Do cool stunts for movies! Set up your own movies!


Strife was a weird Doom engine game merged with an RPG. Summoning was an action RPG and a sequel in spirit of Darkspire. System Shock was the legendary FPS RPG follow up to Ultima Underworld. Terminator was an early "Sandbox" game and mostly using 3d polygons. About 10-15 years before the tech could handle it. Terminator 2029 was more or less an FPS with step movement. Kind of cool but hard. The 2 Aegis disks are Trek games. You know the classic computer wargame? Yeah. Ultrabots was a simple mech sim. Kind of alright. Ultimate Games is where Spectre VR came from. I think every other disk I either traded or lost. No big loss.


Ultimate Wizardry Archives is Wizardry 1-7 (Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord through Crusaders of the Dark Savant and the Windows 9x "Gold" port as well.) with the cluebook next to it. Veil of Darkness is an isometric action adventure involving vampires. Vengeance of Excalibur is a real time wargame mixed with some RPG elements. Wargame Construction Set 3: Age of Rifles is the third Wargame maker game from SSI, this time focused on the 1800s era of warfare. Warcraft 2 is like the UR RTS alongside Command & Conquer. I could swear I had Warcraft 1 as well but.. it was kind of butt, especially compared to 2. (And C&C Red Alert basically perfected it all.)


Warlords 2 and its scenario maker are the best turn based conquer the world wargame ever made. Wing Commander 2 and Privateer continue that space flight sim series. Wing Commander 3 was the last big leap for the franchise, to it's detriment in my opinion. X Com Terror From the Deep is the turn based strategy game sequel to X Com. Except it was bugged and is locked on IMPOSSIBLE mode. Otherwise it adds some cool improvements but is otherwise merely a total conversion of the original.

Also if anyone has the CDROM version of Warlords 2 and you don't want it any more get in touch with me.


Roberta Williams Anthology is basically all of her adventure games pre Phantasmagoria in one collection. I got it from some Columbia House like Computer Software Club thingie. I still cannot grok to Adventure games even though I try. Space Quest Companion is a big cluebook. Because I was borrowing the original Space Quest and needed help to complete it. We see a Lucasarts and SSG catalog, plus the Quick Reference version of DOS FOR DUMMIES. Since my PC didn't come with any tutorials for DOS 5.0. (And I screwed it up so many times trying to shave precious kilobytes off my 130 meg HD. Ultima 7 and expansion wanted 25 megs of it! Windows 3.1 5! DOS another 2-3!)


Shareware disks! Mostly purchased ones! (And a couple other things like the PC After Hours pack in disk and a collection of useful tools from Dvorak and Interplay.) See back in the pre Internet age the only real way most people could get shareware was from BBSes or if they didn't have any they could call up, they had to buy them. Usually 2-5 bucks a disk. Even if the game sucked it was worth the price of a McDonald's Extra Value Meal or an indie comic book just to try them out. Some were fun for an hour or two at least.

I even ended up getting Gunship 2000 cheap off ebay to have a physical manual:

VGA ONLY man! When this game came out that was sort of a big deal. 1991 copyright. I was still on a C64 then.

That is enough for now. Id Software, Hobby Games Gone Computer, and Ultima both deserve their own posts by me. Share your poo poo goons!

Captain Rufus fucked around with this message at 04:09 on Oct 30, 2013

Bing the Noize
Dec 21, 2008

by The Finn


Have any of you played Scarab of Ra though? That's a B&W Mac game for the ages y'all.

I need to get those Classics I took some pics of hooked up because the hard drives are loaded to the brim with nothing but B&W Mac games. Most won't even run on something that isn't a B&W Mac.

I remember there being an amazing clone of Elevator Action, obviously there was Glider, but one of my fondest memories is of this weird airlock game where you're in space and an airlock and there is really crunchy sound and I don't remember any of the rest of it?

poo poo man I gotta find where my ADB keyboards are stowed away.

edit: I found a vid of System's Twilight for classic Macs, everyone watch this mindfuck of a puzzle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcln72yqO0s

Bing the Noize fucked around with this message at 04:43 on Oct 30, 2013

Thuryl
Mar 14, 2007

My postillion has been struck by lightning.


ACID POLICE posted:

Have any of you played Scarab of Ra though? That's a B&W Mac game for the ages y'all.

Yes! I usually died of starvation But yeah, that game was super neat, even if it was confusing and frustrating to play what was basically a roguelike before my six-year-old self had any concept of what a roguelike was.

quote:

edit: I found a vid of System's Twilight for classic Macs, everyone watch this mindfuck of a puzzle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcln72yqO0s

yesssss

You want to talk about mindfucks, let's talk about that game's final puzzle, which is a huge elaborate red herring to distract you from the obvious solution. Andrew Plotkin is a mad genius.

Anyway! Captain Rufus said he needed help collecting emulation advice, so here's what I know about classic Mac emulation. Mini vMac is probably the easiest Mac emulator to set up and most stable, but only emulates a Macintosh Plus. That means you're limited to games that will run under older system software with B&W graphics. Basilisk II and SheepShaver can emulate newer systems (relatively speaking: we're talking mid-to-late 90s here), but are more of a pain to set up. Fortunately, there are setup guides available online to tell you what you'll need to do; they may be slightly out of date but the process is still basically the same.

Discount Viscount
Jul 9, 2010

FIND THE FISH!


Jesus, nice effortposting Rufus. I feel very small.

Our first family computer was a hand-me-down DOS machine whose specs I am uncertain on, but it was probably mid-80s vintage. We got it in 1993, and it took another 4 or 5 years before any of us could figure out how to run stuff on it-partly because we didn't have anything to run and furthermore had no idea where to begin with the documentation. The breakthrough came when someone else bequeathed us a shitload of shareware floppies and the newsletters that came with them, thus providing me with enough documentation to actually install poo poo and get it running, and more than enough poo poo to install! Somehow, even though I had an SNES and an N64, there was something fascinating about these old and simple games and snippets of games; it was a real novelty.

Incidentally, a few of them are available for free on the 3D Realms downloads page, including Pharaoh's Tomb and its sequel, Arctic Adventure.

Like a lot of kids, my only other computer exposure was in school, and that meant Apple.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6-pCDyLZBg
Still burned deep into my memory.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tb3XhWL3rEQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5Dp-BJ2S5o

And some other game about your friends making GBS threads themselves to death while you spent your life savings on bullets.

Serendipitously, a few days ago the Internet Archive used a Javascript implementation of MESS to launch the Historical Software Archive.

Also, the UK magazine Retro Gamer is really quite good at giving equal consideration to European computers and console and arcade games. Their spreads are pretty lovely to boot. It's a bit pricey here in the States, being an import mag, but fairly easy to find at Barnes & Noble. They also put out big collection issues cherrypicking articles from recent issues of the magazine, and there are disc collections and an eBook option now.

Discount Viscount fucked around with this message at 12:54 on Oct 30, 2013

the wizards beard
Apr 15, 2007
Reppin

4 LIFE 4 REAL

Some serious effortposts here, well done. I'm looking forward to reading through everything. Do people really pay those prices on US ebay? My C64 was 2.80eur + shipping, I think I paid around 18eur for an A500 and power supply before shipping.

Captain Rufus
Sep 16, 2005

CAPTAIN WORD SALAD

OFF MY MEDS AGAIN PLEASE DON'T USE BIG WORDS

UNNECESSARY LINE BREAK

the wizards beard posted:

Some serious effortposts here, well done. I'm looking forward to reading through everything. Do people really pay those prices on US ebay? My C64 was 2.80eur + shipping, I think I paid around 18eur for an A500 and power supply before shipping.

Yes. Also note the the UK and Europe were a completely different market than the US. What isn't worth poo poo dawg there is big money here and vice versa.

Going to the post above: you can also get Retro Gamer at Books a Million as well.

Some Uk dude is making an Ultima 3.5 game on the 128k Spectrum and he really seems to have a loathing of them for some reason I can't figure out exactly.

I think RG is a great mag myself. It will probably still be better than that retro mag up on kickstarter. Not having smug "Its not my Nintendo childhood and thus crap" Jeremy Parish and not that funny to begin with Seanbaby in it kind of automatically makes Retro Gamer the better mag.

DEEP STATE PLOT
Aug 13, 2008

Yes...Ha ha ha...YES!




Are there any good places to buy Atari 8-bit parts? I'm missing the Break key on my 800XL and it makes programming things, uh, difficult.

iastudent
Apr 22, 2008



the wizards beard posted:

Some serious effortposts here, well done. I'm looking forward to reading through everything. Do people really pay those prices on US ebay? My C64 was 2.80eur + shipping, I think I paid around 18eur for an A500 and power supply before shipping.

Yeah, one thing I've noticed while looking at MSX computers on ebay and community sites is that they tend to be cheaper over in the EU, even with international shipping, as opposed to a US or Japanese reseller. But then in the US, you get to deal with fun stuff like PAL->NTSC conversion and alternate power requirements.

Jedit
Dec 10, 2011

Proudly supporting vanilla legends 1994-2014



Discount Viscount posted:

Also, the UK magazine Retro Gamer is really quite good at giving equal consideration to European computers and console and arcade games. Their spreads are pretty lovely to boot. It's a bit pricey here in the States, being an import mag, but fairly easy to find at Barnes & Noble. They also put out big collection issues cherrypicking articles from recent issues of the magazine, and there are disc collections and an eBook option now.

Retro Gamer is available on Zinio. I have a full print run up to about 115, thereafter I went digital because I need space.

Captain Rufus
Sep 16, 2005

CAPTAIN WORD SALAD

OFF MY MEDS AGAIN PLEASE DON'T USE BIG WORDS

UNNECESSARY LINE BREAK

Cannot Find Server posted:

Are there any good places to buy Atari 8-bit parts? I'm missing the Break key on my 800XL and it makes programming things, uh, difficult.

I probably posted in the resources section but Best Electronics has a metric assload of parts. Its just on a site designed for Mosaic 1.0 and you have to do orders by phone or snail mail or individual emails. Maybe.

Edit: gently caress I did not. Guess we know what I am doing on halloween. ANOTHER EFFORT POST.

I should have put in some of the other shopping options in there too. If I didn't maybe on Halloween I will start a list of retro computer sites to buy poo poo from we can all contribute. I do have that reserved section for a reason...

(Even if this page alone makes both my Mk1 Kindle Fire and my 08 ipod touch cry as is..)

Captain Rufus fucked around with this message at 22:36 on Oct 30, 2013

DEEP STATE PLOT
Aug 13, 2008

Yes...Ha ha ha...YES!




Oh god you weren't kidding about their page layout. It is exactly what I'd expect from a website for 80's computer enthusiasts

But they don't have any replacement keys as far as I can tell. I'll probably just keep checking eBay periodically for a non-working 800xl to cannibalize or whatever.

wafflemoose
Apr 10, 2009



I love old computer threads like this.

I used to have an IIGS, I used that sucker from middle school up until high school. Managed to wear the monitor out. Parents got rid of it sadly. Best computer I've ever had. Used to waste alot of time playing Bard's Tale I-III, Mean 18 Golf, a bootleg copy of Roadwar 2000, Tetris, and tones of other games when I wasn't busy playing Nintendo. I also wasted alot of time with The Print Shop, both 5.25 and 3.5 diskette versions, Appleworks, and Paintworks. I had a poo poo-ton of software for that computer. Once the IIGS was gone I got an old HP and I wasted time with classic DOS games like Stonekeep, Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, Ultima Underworld I&II, Descent II, Might and Magic World of Xeen, and Command and Conquer.

Ironically I built my current rig to play the newest poo poo out there yet I keep coming back to old classics. Needless to say I love the poo poo out of GOG.com for providing me ways to play all those classic games without none of the hassle of configuring them. So while my rig is new, I am an old school PC gamer at heart. Long live the classics.

Bing the Noize
Dec 21, 2008

by The Finn


Cannot Find Server posted:

Oh god you weren't kidding about their page layout. It is exactly what I'd expect from a website for 80's computer enthusiasts

But they don't have any replacement keys as far as I can tell. I'll probably just keep checking eBay periodically for a non-working 800xl to cannibalize or whatever.

Did you see the part of their site where it says in huge letters that what they show online is a tiny fraction of the stock they have? You probably missed it because everything is big bold letters on that site.

Last time I bought some poo poo from them I ordered a catalog too. It's like 400 pages and all their Atari video game related stuff even has its own catalog, which I don't have. Yes, they do print catalogs and you have to mail order them.

If you PM me i have the latest catalog and can probably see if they have what you need (I know they do, you should just call them)

DEEP STATE PLOT
Aug 13, 2008

Yes...Ha ha ha...YES!




I did miss that, sorry. The layout was making my eyes bleed so I just navigated to parts and didn't see keys there. I'll definitely give them a call so I can get my poo poo fixed.

I also need new controller inputs for my TI-99 4/A which is more involved than a simple key replacement and also harder to find. At least I can still play Parsec with the keyboard, or use the Tax/Investment Record Keeping cart for my finances

Prenton
Feb 17, 2011

Ner nerr-nerrr ner

Captain Rufus posted:

BBC Micro/Acorn Electron:

The BBC Micro (Image Wikimedia Commons)

Notable Games: In general most of the games on the system weren't all that notable. It is considered to have the best version of the original Elite however. Any UK folks know some great exclusives?

Home of ( I think? ) the original Chuckie Egg, Thrust, Exile ( later got neat 16 bit releases ), and Citadel.

But, like me, most people only saw it at school, so the most memorable one is the weird-arse edumacational adventures Dread Dragon Droom and Granny's Garden. Which they still actively go after the copyright for. Don't worry though: you can still get it for Fifteen Bloody Quid

Captain Rufus
Sep 16, 2005

CAPTAIN WORD SALAD

OFF MY MEDS AGAIN PLEASE DON'T USE BIG WORDS

UNNECESSARY LINE BREAK

^ Thing is a lot of those games appeared on other machines as well IIRC. I admit Stryker's Run looked pretty neat given the Beeb's CGAtastic color scheme for most titles though.

But in my continuing effort posts (may or may not update with the shopping resources tonight. Big assfuck Steam sale. And maybe iPad Air if the 24 hour Wal Mart is being kind.) I present
to you from my computer games collection:

Look What I Did To My Id

No, not https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZkLGZL11rA

Even if it is a really awesome movie and in some ways superior to the previous film about Brad and Janet. (If you don't know what I refer to please get out from under that rock.)

What I refer to is: ID SOFTWARE. The legendary software house who both saved PC gaming and destroyed electronic gaming with their perfection and popularization of the First Person Shooter. (FPS)

Starting off as some genius game programmers making Apple II and DOS games for magazines, they eventually got into the Shareware scene where their Commander Keen platformer showed how powerful the PC could be with a good team, and then they made Wolfenstein 3D, which started the FPS craze that has mostly taken over video gaming it seems.

Mostly ahead of their time, Wolfenstein didn't stand a patch to Ultima Underworld but was a bazillion times more accessible proving what modern publishers do with making "dumbed down" games for the masses is a good way to make some scratch.

And then the legendary Doom took the world by storm and started showing that FPS games were also great multiplayer experiences.

But my first experience was with Commander Keen. It was a fun little platformer the berthing commander in Navy Fire Control A School tried to get me into instead of Wolf as their best game of the time.

Later on I would download the shareware version of Wolf 3d from America Online while it was still a dial up DOS application and endure a high phone bill as their access number closest to me came to be found out (to my mother's dismay) was not a local call.

It was fun but it was the shareware version of Doom I purchased and played at the Norfolk Navy base's rec center Wind and Sea for an hour at a time on their 386 PCs with no sound card and in lower res mode that would make me a fan of it all.

Let's see what Id did to my idiotic self! (Besides me buying a 32X add on for my Sega Genesis. 160 bucks was cheaper than upping my PC's RAM. Bad decision that...)

(Please forgive me not posting a picture of the third Doom novel I have since I somehow lost the first two novels in that line. The third one was WEEEEIRD. The second was kind of rad for light reading though.)


I bought this bad box for 100 bucks in 96. All the Id titles released up to that point plus their few Mac ports all in one box. I only had Ultimate Doom and Doom 2 at this point so this was a really good buy. Not counting the ugly Tee Shirt I ended up using as a dust rag I still have everything that came in this box.


Though one piece spent much of its time hanging out in this glass cupboard with other videogame and retro friends.


Everything comes packed in this sweet foam insert. Silly dog tags. A poster. The metal Cyberdemon sculpted by Reaper Minis, the "Book of Id" where all the games are, and the infamous Doom comic book.


The book has 4 CDs packed in the hard outer cover, with the book in the middle. Listing all the Id games would take forever. Just go look up their work on Mobygames or something. Pretty much all their stuff up to 1996 is on here. The symbol was also the image on the dumb Tee shirt. No loss. Plus the space it took up gives me room for.. stuff you will soon see.


The booklet also is a mixture of silly serious horror fiction plus a history of Id.


One of the less crazy pages in the comic book.


The old ratings system before the ESRB system we see on software today came on a slip explaining it in the box. Plus the Pentium Pro 150 PC order I placed in early 1997 so I could properly run Quake. No Overdrive CPU could make my 486 SX handle it at any decent framerate. Not even the Cyrix P5 133! Only having 256K of vRam didn't help either. Hell, by this point you couldn't even really FIND the kind of vRam the Tandy used! (Could probably find some now. I should do that..)


Doom was so massive this 630+ page book with CD merely covered making your OWN levels plus contained the best Doom 2 map pack ever: Head2Head Christmas Doom 2. The CDR is stuff like ports of Doom to run under modern Windows and the like. Whenever I made that disk anyhow. Doomsday Project owns but its a pain in the rear end to get all the bells and whistles running.


While my copy of this version of Doom was given away much like I offloaded the 32X Doom before I became the moronic collector I am now, I still have the poster and manual for the game. Originally Doom like Wolf 3D was mail order only. Ultimate Doom changed that.


Spear of Destiny came with that Ultimate Games suite Spectre VR did in a previous post. Heretic is Raven Software's Fantasy mod of Doom with all new levels, monsters, and tweaks. Computer Game Review had some awesome support guides released with some issues. I have the Blood Bowl guide as well. Its a bit beat up because it wasn't in this Id box like it ought to have been.


Quake 2 was a superior follow up to Quake, and one of the first games I would use with a 3D graphics card. It also was a killer of sleep after work Friday nights. I would get out at 2-4 AM at the time, drive home, and play a couple hours of Quake 2 online over dial up, then get up around Noon to go play Warhammer 40,000 2nd edition and then head straight to work for another 8 hours! Quake 3 Arena was really the end of my Id fandom. Its just... eh. I like solo gaming more than multiplayer and Q3 was 90% multiplayer focused. Doom 3 BFG is like the 10th Anniversary edition of Doom 3 with numerous fixes to the original game. (Plus making it a Steam title. And requiring modern graphics cards. Soo.. half upgrade half hosejob.)


It will replace Doom 3 on the X Box with its sweet rear end metal case and plastic slipcover. I never bought the expansion sadly. It works on the 360 as well. Its a fun and tense game but it got annoying after a while. Maybe BFG Edition fixes it? Its been many months since a lot of these posts in this thread were on my blog. I STILL haven't installed BFG Edition to see what the changes are.


Doom was so huge it got a boardgame with expansion. I own both, though I think I got the Expansion on clearance. Its a fun Space Crusade sort of game. Lots of minis I should finally finish painting one day too!


See? Its neat. I really should do a comic review of this game one day. The minis are nice but unlike some of the long OOP Reaper minis like the one the Cyberdemon above is a mold of, these are all the Doom 3 designs. Even if the Pinkie Demons and Imps I have painted are closer to DOS Doom color schemes as is right and just.

Now this collection leaves out the turn based RPGs Id made for IOS. I have the Wolfenstein and Doom 2 titles which I have completed. I just don't count digital downloads as something one collects.

(This is one thing we won't really have in the future. With Steam and Origin and XBLA and PSN and the like we are really losing game ownership and nifty things like cool manuals and packaging. It is depressing on so many levels.)

But I have one more Id thing (Until I go back and get Hexen, a version of Hexen 2 that works, (drat YOU VIDEOCARD EXCLUSIVE PACK IN GAMES) and maybe some of the other Id/Raven Software co productions cheaply anyhow..) that leads into a short and sweet collection:


My second Nintendo 64. I sold off my previous one because honestly.. the Nintendo 64 kind of sucks. An expensive cartridge based system in the days of deep PC games and lots of long CDROM titles on the Playstation and Saturn. Plus the normally lauded Goldeneye with that ugly controller didn't have anything on Aliens vs Predator or Half Life with a proper mouse and keyboard.

Yet for some reason I traded an older PC for this one, and grabbed a couple games on the cheap (only Ogre Battle I bought loose. Zelda, WWF, and South Park were my friend's. Zelda is overrated as hell IMHO).

The reason it is with Id here is of course due to Doom 64 which is practically an entirely new sequel to Doom with all new graphics and levels. Its hard but pretty good.

Since this is a retro computer games thread I am only showing some of the non computer bits because Id had a MASSIVE influence in spite of being a wee company who made games for a mail order game disk magazine originally. (And sadly having creepy douche John Romero as a member.)

And their legend began in the days of the Apple 2 and DOS. (Dangerous Dave in the Haunted Mansion is a kickass platformer on the Id Anthology. I just wished DOSBox had a save state feature so I wouldn't have to play through the entire game without any saving. Its just too long of a game for that.)

Keru
Aug 2, 2004

'n suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us 'n the sky was full of what looked like 'uge bats, all swooping 'n screeching 'n divin' around the ute.


The first game that really taught me what brutal is, was the game Phantasie III: Wrath of Nicademus. I had the Amiga 500 version (I believe there were atari/pc versions as well, maybe even c64/tandy) and it was completely merciless. I ran up so many parties that died ignobly because they were asleep and got ambushed by monsters or I strayed just a shade too far from the starting town and got murdered by pretty much anything.

Sometimes it was just a case of "Well, my wizard just lost his right arm and leg and I can't fix that until my priest gets Healing III/IV and the Priest has a crushed head and is OUT. Time to make a new Wizard!". Then when your entire party finally did die, you got sent off to judgement and that rear end in a top hat thing just destroyed them outright or made them into undead partymembers who couldn't level up and were stuck at level 15 (despite not actually having any improved stats of being said level). Rarely he'd resurrect them.

I think that game is what caused my chronic battle with altitis. I still haven't beaten it, I give it a try every other year or so.

I also had an MSX Express, which as far as I can remember was basically an MSX, except it was white and maybe a tiny bit faster? I played the poo poo out of Maze of Galious II on that thing, until one fateful day the arrow keys on it broke and it was forever going to the right whenver you tried to play a game.

(This thread is awesome)

Copper Vein
Mar 14, 2007

...and we liked it that way.


I've bought up some C64 stuff over the last couple years, but immediately suffered reliability issues with floppies and 1541 drives so I got a SD card reader for my C64 and then played through Bruce Lee.



C64 and Atari some joysticks don't have multiplexers in them which means all I have to do to use a custom controller is make a cord. Sega Genesis controllers work on a C64 but can damage the computer, so don't use one without modifying it.





Tried to get into Amiga by way of CD32 consoles, but I haven't been able to keep them reading discs reliably.





I bought a decent 7800 starter kit too, but haven't yet expanded on it. I've seen some websites claiming that the 5200 was slightly more powerful, but I don't know if I believe that. I need to get S-Video coming out of this thing.






I envy all that old cardboard and mylar you posted, but personally, I just don't want to spend money on a game that doesn't come on a cartridge.

The Kins
Oct 2, 2004


Sector Effector


Captain Rufus posted:


It will replace Doom 3 on the X Box with its sweet rear end metal case and plastic slipcover. I never bought the expansion sadly. It works on the 360 as well. Its a fun and tense game but it got annoying after a while. Maybe BFG Edition fixes it? Its been many months since a lot of these posts in this thread were on my blog. I STILL haven't installed BFG Edition to see what the changes are.
Xbox Doom 3 does have freezing issues on the 360, though.

BFG Edition is... basically it's a 360 port of Doom 3, ported back to the PC. Mod support is disabled, some shadows were disabled because Id thought they were ugly in hindsight (I think they added an option to re-enable them, though...). There's a new expansion thing, but most of the levels in it are chopped together from pieces of the original maps, and it's just not that interesting.

The included ports of Doom 1 & 2 are slightly censored (red crosses on health kits replaced with pills, Nazi stuff in secret maps removed) but it DOES include a new nine level episode for Doom 2 called "No Rest for the Living" which is utterly fantastic.

Long story short, it's not that good unless you can get it for like ten bucks or less, in which case it's worth it just for No Rest.

Hob_Gadling
Jul 6, 2007

by Jeffrey of YOSPOS


Grimey Drawer

Captain Rufus posted:

Definitive Wargame Collection includes Warlords, Gold of the Americas, Conquest of Japan, Battles of Napoleon, Decisive Battles of the Civil War, Wargame Construction Set 2: Tanks!, Panzer Battles, D Day, Global Domination, Reach for the Stars, When Two Worlds War, and Sword of Aragon.

The nostalgia is overwhelming. I'll pick one game out of those.

Panzer Battles is a SSG-published grand strategy game about German offensive into Soviet Union. It came with six scenarios and in true grognard fashion modeled unit experience, morale, weather, commander qualities, time of day and so on. What made it exceptional was the command system, called "Run 5". As far as I can tell this is one of the great wasted opportunities of video gaming history: if there is a game that sorely needs a spiritual successor it is this one.

You see, Run 5 modeled you being in command as opposed to being a god. In a typical scenario you took command of an army Group. This was divided into 2-3 senior HQs commanding armies, which in turn commanded 2-4 corps each consisting of 2-4 divisions. In the first scenario you'd have 30 or so divisions in your command. But instead of planning the movement of each one separately you had to pass orders through a chain of command. You'd give a very high-level order (prepare an assault, dig in, probe) and your underlings would attempt to carry it out to the best of their abilities. If senior HQ was dead every order in the army was diminished in effect. If corps command was (freshly) dead the order might be not fulfilled at all. You could not micromanage anything except senior HQ locations. Everything else required you to place trust into your junior commanders.

This was great for several reasons. The game progressed quickly. Giving out orders for your entire army group could be done in less than 3 minutes per turn if you knew exactly what you wanted to do. There was no micromanagement. You had to consider the "soft" factors a lot: is this commander good enough to push his men into action or am I better off delegating the task to someone else? The orders you could give changed depending on how engaged the corps was, forcing you to plan beforehand. It was better, after all, to push high quality commanders forward alone than it was to create a traffic jam as the class idiot tries to "help", causing both corps to become ineffective. Rotating worn troops out of frontline was skill in itself, as you didn't want the situation to turn into a rout.

As a whole the game was much more about planning beforehand, risk management and humans than it was about endless micromanagement. There may be games similar to Panzer Battles out there; if there are, please let me know. I'd love to play them.

Larry Horseplay
Oct 24, 2002



Captain Rufus posted:

Starting off as some genius game programmers making Apple II and DOS games for magazines

Let's talk about Softdisk.



Softdisk was originally an offshoot of the legendary Softalk, which was an Apple ][ magazine that ran from 1980 to 1984. The magazine-on-disk outlasted its paper parent, running from 1981 all the way to 1995.





Those of you old enough to have an Apple ][ probably remember the long, long program listings you could type in to get some cool software in magazines like Nibble and Compute. The best thing about Softdisk is that, every month, you got a disk in the mail with them ALREADY TYPED IN FOR YOU.



There were also standard magazine features, like editorials, letters to the editor, and so on.

Softdisk later branched out to other platforms, with Big Blue Disk for the PC, Loadstar for the C64, Softdisk Mac, Softdisk for Windows, and my personal favorite-- Softdisk G-S for the Apple IIGS.







Softdisk was also the place that happened to hire John Carmack and John Romero, bringing them together for the first time.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao5ZauCZ1YQ

Sadly, with the slow collapse of the Apple ][ market, Softdisk stopped publishing the original ][ edition in 1995, and the IIGS edition in 1997.



Softdisk for Windows ended in 1999, presumably due to the growing mainstream popularity of the Internet. Softdisk the company ended up becoming an Internet provider themselves; softdisk.com as of today, though, is just an empty Apache site.

The Softdisk collection is still being sold today as Apple ][ disk images on CD or download, so they're not freely available on the Internet like so many other classic Apple ][ disks. Still thinking about buying the collection for nostalgia's sake, since I was a subscriber back in the 80s-90s.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfgY17c3QM8

Kthulhu5000
Jul 25, 2006

by R. Guyovich


Kind of mindblowing to think that Softdisk thought there was enough of a market to justify publishing Apple II software in 1995. I mean, I'm sure there were Apple II hobbyist users back then; but that there were enough who would be interested in a subscription, and who made up a market big enough to justify paying at least one someone's salary to compile a new disk on a regular basis, is just surprising as heck to consider as a thing that happened.

I suppose SoftDisk would have had some long-term employees around with Apple II experience that they could draw upon to actually make these disks, but it's a funny mental image to think of them wrapping up intense team meetings for what was going to be on the Mac, DOS, and Windows disks, and then going down into the basement and nudging some slumbering greybeard awake to compile an Apple II disk. And when he died (or they ran out of a source of Apple II floppies), they had no choice but to shut the whole thing down.

Original_Z
Jun 14, 2005
Z so good

Ah, the good old days! I used to go to the local bookstore and just buy random disks for a few bucks, sometimes you'd get some great games and othertimes they'd be stinkers, but them's the breaks! I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of those older games simply don't exist anymore, no one bothered to back them up and most of us don't even remember the names of them. I should look through my old floppy collection at my parent's house someday.

I grew up with an old Atari Computer, then a Texas Instruments and eventually an IBM which had no hard drive so we had to use services like Microsoft Works and Prodigy completely on disks. Somehow they were all good for playing games though, usually with a bit of tweaking.

Anyone ever play these oldass platformers?

Ollies Follies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wxgxHBRLn8

Ghost Chaser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4XvGVSre-E

Played the poo poo out of these, along with other classics like Archon and Montezuma's Revenge. Really nostalgic to see these videos and still vaguely remember the levels.

vkeios
May 7, 2007






In case anyone wanted to remember how great System 7 is, there's an emulator ported to javascript. ~wow~ ..There's also some IBM PC action to enjoy as well.

Kthulhu5000
Jul 25, 2006

by R. Guyovich


Original_Z posted:

I grew up with an old Atari Computer, then a Texas Instruments and eventually an IBM which had no hard drive so we had to use services like Microsoft Works and Prodigy completely on disks. Somehow they were all good for playing games though, usually with a bit of tweaking.

It's a funny thing, in a way. In probably our most dire and broke computing period, me and my brother had to use floppy disks for everything on our beater 386. And, if you adjusted your expectations accordingly, there was a lot you could do with just a few floppy disks back in the day (in our case, dialing in to our ISP's UNIX shell system and browsing the web through the Lynx text browser).

Today, we have live CDs and so forth, but it seems like everything is so abstracted, high level, and dependent on so many other things that stuff feels less functional if you don't have a hard drive. You might boot Ubuntu, but it's literally a WYSIWYG situation - you don't get to update software, make changes to settings, or do other general computing tasks without burning a new disc or never rebooting and clearing the memory.

Maybe I just think this because you could cram COMMAND.COM, your CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files, and some utilities on a floppy disk and still have close to a megabyte left for other things, all on a read/write media. Yes, it'd be in small pieces and a pain in the rear end at times to deal with, but you had the ability to extend your whole computing world 1.44 megabytes at a time if you had or desired to do so. Today, it's a fishbowl; sure, it's gigantic with nice gravel, sweet castles, and fancy accessories, but if something breaks, things just grind to a halt it seems like.

Of course, all of this comes with the caveat that I haven't really tried to run a system like I did back then; maybe it'd be possible, but maybe (in some way) it'd also be worse.

kirbysuperstar
Nov 11, 2012





Kthulhu5000 posted:

Today, we have live CDs and so forth, but it seems like everything is so abstracted, high level, and dependent on so many other things that stuff feels less functional if you don't have a hard drive. You might boot Ubuntu, but it's literally a WYSIWYG situation - you don't get to update software, make changes to settings, or do other general computing tasks without burning a new disc or never rebooting and clearing the memory.

Wouldn't USB flash drives with persistent installs of Ubuntu/etc. be the the same thing but for a more modern age?

fishception
Feb 20, 2011

~carrier has arrived~


Oven Wrangler

So I am seriously tempted to buy a Commodore 64.

The best option I could find on Ebay was this:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Commodore-C-64-Computer-early-serial-number-floppy-drive-manuals-and-software-/141105706038

Piles everything together in one lump area. Shipping is literally extortion-level, but at least it's a lot less buying, and I think that even with the shipping, the combined cost of the necessary parts and such would come out to about that much anyways.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Kthulhu5000
Jul 25, 2006

by R. Guyovich


kirbysuperstar posted:

Wouldn't USB flash drives with persistent installs of Ubuntu/etc. be the the same thing but for a more modern age?

Maybe? I suspect that between the greater overhead and background demands of a modern OS, the USB interface would somehow bottleneck it all. It might be interesting to try, though.

The main advantage about DOS, when I think about it, is that it was pretty hardware agnostic; you could pretty much run it on anything from a 286 to a Pentium (and probably beyond) with minimal or no hassle. It was also lightweight, since it wasn't multitasking, didn't deal with background services, and didn't display a pretty GUI. There's a reason it was tops for gaming up until DirectX and 3D acceleration started coming into their own.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply