Monument Microgames – a closer look
Sep01

Monument Microgames – a closer look

The late 80s and early 90s saw the decline of 8bit computers in favour of their more powerful 16bit brethren. Understandably software production for these now defunct machines took a back seat or stopped altogether with software houses concentrating on the next big thing. However, with the resurgence of interest in vintage computing there is also a thirst for new software, something Graz Richards at Monument Microgames was quick to notice and fill that gap. Cheese and chocolate loving*, extreme bus-ride enthusiast Graz, now in his forties, originally started Monument in 1992 as a store to sell second-hand and new-old stock games, moving onto publishing new games in 2012. (*even together apparently!) Brunilda Endless Forms Most Beautiful Traxtor Metal Man Reloaded The games produced by Monument are of the utmost quality and often come with extras only ever previously seen in the ‘big box’ games of the Amiga/ST era. Badges, CDs, collectible cards and full colour manuals all come as standard and pricing is extremely reasonable considering the amount of work and level of detail that goes into each and every title. Games produced so far on the Monument Microgames label include: Catacombs of Balachor Zombie Calavera Genesis:  Dawn of a New Day Sid Spanners Collection Balachor’s Revenge El Stompo Game about Squares Forest Raider Cherry Cray 5 Future Looter Sir Ababol Phaeton Sam Mallard Traxtor Brunilda PET Snake Endless Forms Most Beautiful MetalMan Multi Dude Seto Taisho Vs Yokai / To Kazan   Interview with Graz Richards, owner of Monument Microgames RGC: When did you first become interested in videogames and what was the first videogame you ever played? Graz: It was Pong in 1977-78  I was 4 or 5, and very much aware of the “grown-ups” discussions about the impending microchip revolution.  Seeing Pong was like looking into the future.  I honestly couldn’t believe it at first.  Playable television! RGC: What was the first games console or computer you owned and how old were you? Graz: The first console was an Atari 2600.  It was very much a move on behalf of my parents to, ‘keep up with the Joneses.’  Friends of the family brought the console round to our house one day and showed off, “Missile Command.”  The sounds and graphics, bursting with light and colour were amazing, and the imagery of cities being levelled under mushroom clouds was extremely powerful for my young mind.  I was 8 years old by then. And then, one day, dad bought an Atari home for us, along with the obligatory Combat, plus Space Invaders and Adventure, which is still my favourite game of all time to this day. RGC:...

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Pixel Bead Art by Cave of Pixels
Apr23

Pixel Bead Art by Cave of Pixels

Cave of Pixels was founded by Iain Clarke as a website to publish reviews of retro games and movies based on games. Originally called Cave of Monsters (a line from Bubble Bobble), it evolved into Cave of Pixels in 2013 when he started making pixel art, and he then decided to use the site as a showcase for his creations. Iain first stumbled upon pixel art at a film convention in 2013, where he purchased a small Mario sprite made out of mini beads. He was intrigued as to how they were made, so after a bit of research he decided to make a few sprites for himself. The first sprite he re-created was a duck from Duck Hunt, and he over-melted the beads when he ironed them. This was the first of many mistakes he would make as he started to learn the best techniques to use. This prompted him to put together a “How to” guide on his website, to help out any other budding beaders out there. Originally designed for childrens’ arts and crafts, Hama (European) and Perler (American) beads are combined to maximise his palette when creating art. The painstaking process of placing each bead on a grid, before ironing them to fuse them together requires patience, attention to detail, creativity, and more patience. Iain’s gaming inspirations are mostly Nintendo and Sega console games from the 80’s and 90’s, as this was the time of his childhood, when he was really into videogames. He says: “My first console was a Gameboy and I played that thing to death. For pixel art, games up to the SNES/Megadrive era are great. Anything later than that tends to be too detailed, and would come out absolutely huge if you attempted to make bead art out of it, as one pixel = one bead. I started out making simple videogame sprites for my games room wall, but eventually ran out of wallspace. Not wanting to stop, I decided to see if this art would sell at games markets, as I’d received a lot of positive feedback on Instagram and Twitter. Since 2014 I’ve done 4 markets and always get a positive reaction from those who stop by my stall.” As well as creating sprites and scenes from iconic retro games, he also likes to create detailed pixel interpretations of iconic images and portraits. Just a few of his creations include portraits of Muhammad Ali, Rihanna, Jack Nicholson and Marilyn Monroe but his biggest project so far was a mosaic of John Lennon made of 1x1cm tiles. It stood at about 4 feet high and was on display in a...

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Retro Website of the Month: 8-Bit Central
Feb25

Retro Website of the Month: 8-Bit Central

For our next WOTM I have decided to pick one of my personal favourite sites on the internet – 8-Bit Central (www.8-bitcentral.com), a site of such depth you could trawl it all day and still want more. From the homepage: 8-Bit Central is dedicated to preserving retro gaming by providing detailed info & images of video game consoles & handhelds from multiple angles, documenting ports & connections and showcasing some of the more interesting accessories. Our aim is informing & inspiring anyone passionate or curious about retro gaming to delve into 8-bit gaming and 1980’s arcade wonder! 8-Bit Central is is run by Pete, a man passionate about retrogaming and also a big fan of the older systems such as Atari 2600 and ColecoVision, much like myself. First and foremost 8-Bit Central is a repository for information and images relating to individual retro video game consoles and their related software, but Pete also likes to blog about his pastime and the site’s big strength is in his ability to mix it up a little, with his love of using modern tech for retrogaming not being overshadowed by his love of their original vintage ancestors. And as if supplying us with lots of humorous retro information overload via his site wasn’t enough, Pete also produces entertaining and informative Youtube videos covering all aspects of the retro scene. So what are you waiting for? Read the interview with Pete below then go check out his site! 8-Bit Central home page Lots of information on a plethora of retrogaming hardware The 8-Bit Central YouTube channel Interview with Pete, founder of 8-Bit Central When did you become interested in video games and what was the first video game you played? Pete: The first game I ever played hooked me on video games in  the late 70’s. It was Space Invaders at my local bowling alley. What was the first games console or computer you owned and how old were you? Pete: A friend of mine got an Atari 2600 for Christmas and showed me Space Invaders. I went home and explained to my parents that we absolutely had to have a 2600. It took a while, but they finally agreed. My Mom took me to a nearby home-appliance store to buy it. The salesman had to climb up a tall ladder above all the dishwashers, laundry and refrigerators to get the Atari box from the rafters. A very odd retail experience. I was probably 12 or 13 years old. I went off to college with a Kaypro portable computer that was the size of a small suitcase. My friends and I would hack...

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Retro Website of the Month: BOX=ART
Jan03

Retro Website of the Month: BOX=ART

Welcome to the first in a new monthly series that brings you great retro gaming websites from around the internet. We are starting with a fairly new site that celebrates box art in all it’s glory – BOX=ART (www.boxequalsart.com). As founder Adam Gidney states on the site: Once there was a time when box artists and their cover art were relied on to sell games. Now the ever popular digital download services are slowly putting an end to physical retail games – and with them, the importance of box art. This won’t mean the end of artwork being created to promote games, of course, we just won’t have those beautifully adorned boxes any longer. So BOX=ART is here to acknowledge a part of art and video game history that is in the slow throws of decline and within a console generation could die away. You can browse various box arts by Artist, Decade, Region or Publisher making it easy to draw comparisons between different periods of gaming and see how things have changed over time. Adams love for video game box art is abundant and we hope that it will grow into one of the biggest repositories of gaming art on the web. Barbarian Box Art by Roger Dean Outer World Box Art by Eric Chadhi Manufacturer page (Sony) Interview with Adam Gidney, founder of BOX=ART When did you become interested in video games? Adam: It started in the late 80’s with the Spectrum +3 and a little known game called Cavern. It had a nice piece of artwork on the instruction manual by an artist called Jenny Tylden-Wright.  From there I was firmly in the Amiga camp before falling in love with Nintendo starting with the N64. What is BOX=ART? Adam: BOX=ART is a site dedicated to the artists who have been involved in creating video game box arts since the early 70s.  It also allows the reader to check out artistic fashions by cataloging box arts across areas such as the decade in which they were released and the region they came from. Finally, exception box arts are highlighted and reviewed. What inspired you to start the site? Adam: I’ve always been a retro collector, but collecting box arts came about after a trip to Japan and seeing all the great artwork that never made it to Europe. I bought up a load and started to look into the artists who created them only to find there wasn’t a dedicated site to them or box art history.  I was also surprised that a lot of these artists never got the recognition they deserved and believe that they...

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