SD2IEC and Epyx Fastload reloaded by thefuturewas8bit – review
Mar19

SD2IEC and Epyx Fastload reloaded by thefuturewas8bit – review

The SD2IECs themselves come in a variety of colours. Even recycled plastic from old Commodore computers themselves Closeup on the translucent SD2IEC The Epyx Fastload Reloaded, an 8-12x speed increase and a built-in reset button make this a handy addition to your setup Top down, full setup The case of this SD2IEC is made from a recycled C64C Connected to an original Commodore 64 Close up SD2IEC detail The SD2IEC can also be used on C16 and VIC-20 models SD2IEC explained Over the years I have grown to love the Commodore 64 almost as much as my main area of interest – the ZX Spectrum. Playground debates over which is the best machine have become nothing but fond memories for me as I explore the intricacies of each machine, their respective strengths and weaknesses often balancing out. In recent years though, I must admit to using my Spectrums a lot more, mainly due to the convenience of the SD card storage that has become available. Thanks to thefuturewas8bit.com and their range of Commodore based SD solutions, that has now changed. I was kindly sent a well packaged box of goodies containing 2 SD2IEC units and an Epyx Fastload Reloaded cartridge by Rod at TFW8B to review here on RGC. I have since been busying myself getting to know what these wonderful storage solutions can do and how they could change the way I use my Commodore machines forever. Produced in a range of colours to match or compliment your current setup, including units made of recycled plastic from old Commodore computers, the SD2IEC plugs into your IEC serial port and cassette edge connector and lets you access a correctly formatted SD card that is inserted into the device. The benefits of this are many, but simply put, by using SD storage you can potentially have thousands of .d64 and .prg files on tap – all accessible within a few keystrokes. The Epyx Fastload cart is a reproduction of the original Fastload cartridge produced back in 1984 but now available in lots of funky colours. The addition of the Epyx Fastload Reloaded cart speeds loading times up by 8-12x and includes a handy reset button. It also simplifies using the SD2IEC as I will explain below. Another bonus is that the SD2IEC is also a multi-computer solution and can also be used on C128, C16, C64DTV and VIC-20 computers, although the Fastload Reloaded cart is only useable on C64 and C128. Hands on with the SD2IEC and Fastload I wasn’t sure how I would get on with the SD2IEC to be honest, I had only ever used the C64 for...

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Emulation on the cheap using original XBox – Part 2 – How to do it
Mar21

Emulation on the cheap using original XBox – Part 2 – How to do it

Soft-modding basics As I demonstrated in Part 1 earlier, the original XBox can be a powerful media centre and even better console and computer emulator. There are a few off-the-shelf products out there that will enable you to soft-mod your XBox with ease (it’s a 10 minute job) and the instructions for soft-modding below are pretty much the same regardless of the product you wish to buy. I will not endorse any one product here but you can find links to some of the best available at the bottom of this article. Note: I take no responsibility for any damage you do to your own XBox when attempting to soft-mod it. You do so entirely at your own risk. If it is done incorrectly there is a slim chance that you may ‘brick’ it (rendering the XBox useless). You have been warned. You can of course opt to get the individual components needed for a soft-mod yourself, it is what I did and I had no problems but some of the less technically able may find it difficult to format the memory card needed to carry the exploited saves. A soft-mod kit comprises of the following items: A FATx formatted USB stick with exploited game saves saved to it Any version of the original Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell (not the sequels) or The original version of 007: Agent Under Fire (or the Platinum Hits version) with the Serial Number: 1448517 (NOT 1448527) or MechAssault with the Serial Number: MS02301L on the inner ring of the disc An XBox to USB adapter You will also need to make sure your MS Dashboard is up to date (version 5960). If it is not the process will stall at Step 6. All you need to do to update your dashboard to the correct version is to insert an XBox Live game (I use Halo 2) and attempt to join Xbox Live. Yes I know you can’t play XBox Live anymore on original XBox but it does force an update of your dashboard. Check your dashboard version by selecting Settings, select System Info, let the info scroll to the bottom where you will see the dashboard version listed. You want it to read: K: 1.00.4034.01 D: 1.00.5960.01. For the purposes of this tutorial I will be using the Splinter Cell exploit. The Soft-mod Step 1 Once you have your game saves saved to the correctly formatted USB drive, start your XBox with a control pad in controller port 1 and the USB adapter in port 2 (do not insert the USB stick yet) and no disc in the XBox. Step 2 You should...

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Emulation on the cheap using original XBox – Part 1 – What it can do
Jun15

Emulation on the cheap using original XBox – Part 1 – What it can do

As some of you may know I am not only a big fan of gaming on original systems but also like to dabble in the dark art of emulation. Yes, I know many purists will be hitting the back button in disgust – but I am of the opinion that emulation has a place in every retro gamer’s life. Emulation lets you experience games in near pixel-perfection that you may not ever be able to afford or find and from a historical perspective it is a great way to archive and catalogue titles that would otherwise disappear. My choice of emulation tool is a self-modded original (some call it ‘classic’ now) Microsoft XBox. I have been asked on numerous occasions about how to mod an XBox and what a modded XBox is, so in this series of posts I will show you the capabilities of my 2 units and show you how to go about getting your own. I chose to use this particular hardware after stumbling across websites run by enthusiasts and finding just how big the XBox mod scene still is and what a capable machine they are for emulation purposes. Almost every emulator ever made has been ported to XBox and in most instances has been enhanced still further by enthusiasts with the addition of video sets and artwork. Many of you will have already heard of or use XBMC on other hardware (Apple TV etc.), well it all started on the humble XBox hence it’s name (XBox Media Center). Of course you can use an XBox as a great networked Media Centre and it does many more things besides but as this is RGC I will concentrate on the subject of retro computer and console emulation. A modded Xbox is my choice over PC/Mac emulation for the following 6 reasons: 1.  The XBox is relatively easy to mod yourself (soft-modding a standard 8gb XBox takes minutes once you know how and have the tools/software) 2.  The unit fits under your telly, unlike a PC 3.  A classic XBox is cheap, I saw them being sold with a controller for £14.99 recently at my local GameStation. eBay is another good source of cheap XBoxes. 4.  I use Macs, have done since 1988 (Mac Plus, SE-30, IIx) and as Mac users will know we are the poor relation to PC users when it comes to emulation. 5.  Unlike an Xbox 360, the original Xbox is very reliable – almost bombproof. 6.  The developer scene is still going strong and new versions of popular emulators are released weekly A modded XBox also has the following advantages: 1.  Region...

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Midway Arcade App for iPad plus iCade Review
Apr22

Midway Arcade App for iPad plus iCade Review

I’ve been waiting for a while now to review this app on my iPad, waiting because I dearly wanted to review it on my iCade and sadly, it wasn’t compatible. Lo and behold a few days ago I got the news that with the latest update they had added iCade compatiblity so here we are at last… What you get Midway Arcade is a package of six Bally/Midway arcade games from the 80’s, namely: Defender, Spy Hunter, Root Beer Tapper, Rampage, Arch Rivals and Joust. All this for 0.69p? Oh yes, it really does sound like a bargain. In addition to this there are two further packages priced at 0.69p each containing the following games – Pack 1: NARC, APB and Total Carnage, Pack 2: Gauntlet, Gauntlet II and Wizard of Wor. Note: Apparently the price of 0.69p is a ‘launch price’ and consequently may rise, although to my knowledge no mention of any other future pricing has been made so far. The games are laid out in a 3D Amusement arcade where by clicking the ‘next’ or ‘previous’ arrows you get to choose your game and walk through (fully animated) the arcade whilst hearing all the ambient sound you would expect to hear. The background sound effects are excellent and took me back to my days in arcades as a youngster whilst the arcade cabinets themselves are rendered authentically. There are even four extra games you would find in an arcade: Basketball, Pool, Air Hockey and Roll Ball all fully playable and adding even more value to your purchase. How it plays I will base my conclusion to this review on my experiences with the iCade controller but I will quickly run through my experiences with the on screen controls anyway, in case anyone is interested. I wont hide the fact that I’m no fan of on-screen controls that replicate a joystick and I would like to say that my experience with Midway Arcade is different but it isn’t. Most of the games are just about playable with the on-screen joystick although it must be pointed out that the position of the joystick can be altered to suit. The tilt controls that have been added for games like APB, Spy Hunter and Defender just don’t work very well at all. Luckily with the iCade arcade controller connected via bluetooth it is all very different. Like the Atari app, portrait games lose their on-screen controls as soon as you move the iCade’s joystick leaving you with a full screen of uncluttered game to enjoy. Landscape games such as Defender are a bit on the small side when played with...

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GameGadget Is Now Available For Pre-Order
Mar16

GameGadget Is Now Available For Pre-Order

For those of you who haven’t seen my Tweets, Blaze Europe have now (from Wed 14th) started allowing pre-orders of their newest handheld – the GameGadget. To recap on a previous post, the GameGadget is being touted as ‘the iPod for RetroGames’ and allows you to download and install your favourite games of old via a website download service called GameGadgetGames sort of like iTunes works with an iPod and music. GameGadget Features: A dedicated retro gaming console – all in one device Supported by an ‘iTunes’ style software application Licensed retro games for quick & affordable download Download new content and manage your existing content An ever expanding back catalogue – potentially over 100,000 games! Easily expand your collection using an option SD card Free software updates/upgrades Cloud based user accounts – easily restore your collection of games should you have any problems Watch the early visualisation trailer below and make up your own mind, we are excited to see this unit in action and will be getting one for review soon so watch this space… or if you can’t wait, go pre-order one at www.gamegadget.net EDIT: We were never actually sent a review unit, even though we were promised one. Sorry...

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Your opinion: is emulation better than the real thing?
Mar01

Your opinion: is emulation better than the real thing?

To emulate or not to emulate – that is the question With retro gaming becoming big business for the next generation consoles and handhelds, we thought it would be interesting to see what our readers thought of emulation vs real retro gaming on a vintage console. We probably know the outcome of this already, most of our readers are (for want of a better term) a little long in the tooth (like us) and were probably arcade addicts already when the Atari VCS hit the shelves (like us). For what it’s worth my everyday gaming set up consists of Xbox 360 (for Live action), Sunnyvale VCS (for the woodgrain) and 2 self-modded original Xboxes. You see, being the old gamer I am, I’m getting too lazy now to keep fetching consoles from my collection and setting them up. That’s where the 2 modded Xboxes come in. Between their upgraded hard drives they contain complete/almost complete ROMsets for nearly every vintage console and computer there is, from VCS to PSX including Arcade emulation. In my opinion there is no better machine to handle retro game emulation, they are dirt cheap, the hardware is stable and they are easy to mod to your liking. That said, if I weren’t so lazy, I’d still go and fetch the real thing…   you can’t really beat it. (Edit: I now have the new games room all set up and have 22 consoles all plugged in and ready to go. No more emulation for me if I can help it!) Oh, and please feel free to leave comments to give reasons for your answer. Have your say: Take Our...

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