Guide to Flash Storage for Vintage Computers
Mar15

Guide to Flash Storage for Vintage Computers

All of the popular games consoles of the cartridge era now seem to have very capable Compact Flass (CF) or secure Digital (SD) Card units that greatly enhance their use and can store a whole catalogue of games in one cartridge, but what about our vintage computers?  How do we preserve all of that fragile magnetic media for future years?  It turns out that almost all vintage computers have CF or SD units available if you search around. The variety in storage card solutions available for computers is even larger than those for consoles as each platform may have a number of options for implementation meaning that the units vary wildly.  Some machines have cartridge slots and so can have similar units to those for the consoles, but often the connection of such a device will be through an expansion connector and these connectors are almost always unique to each vintage machine and operating system.  There may also be a decision to be made on the usage of the storage, some units treating the card as one or more hard drives, some using the media to hold a library of selectable floppy disk image files or cassette image files. As an introduction, I’ll go through a few of the SD/CF card options for machines in my own collection and give an overview of the modern storage solutions I‚’ve used to reduce my exposure to the nostalgia of tape errors and floppy disk failures.  Most of the products are created in small production runs, so availability may be limited, but keep an eye out on the developers’ sites, retro computing forums or eBay and I’m sure they can still be picked up. Commodore Amiga The A600 and A1200 support CF or SD cards easily as they have built-in PCMCIA slots and adapters are freely available.  One issue though is that they won’t boot from the PCMCIA slot and of course only hard-drive installable software will work but check out the various hard drive installers such as WHDLoad. For the A600, A1200 or A4000 you have a standard option as these machines have internal IDE connectors for ATA hard drives.  CF to IDE adapters are easily found for very little cost and can replace an existing drive for a faster, cooler and quieter performance.  Capacities are much higher than the old hard drives so you may need to partition the storage into a number of virtual drives but setup and use should be identical to a standard hard disk.  AmigaKit.com can supply an Amiga SD-IDE kit pre-formatted with software installed and it’s well worth checking them out for this and many...

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An Introduction to SD Cartridges for Vintage Consoles
Jan06

An Introduction to SD Cartridges for Vintage Consoles

Whichever console you owned as a child, it’s hard to recall just how difficult it was to choose which of the many games available for your platform would be the one to ask for at Christmas or for a birthday. How I would struggle with the decision on how to spend my precious saved pocket money and how I dreamed of having all of those games. That childhood dream may not be something that can come true however much I try to buy up a complete Atari 2600 collection but it is possible with the power of the internet and some 21st century hardware to have access to all of those games for cartridge-based consoles and also save on the wear and tear on precious cartridges and cartridge connectors. For some platforms intrepid hardware engineers have created multi-carts with ROMs containing many or all games available for the system but these can be expensive and hard to come by as they are often available for only a short time in limited quantities. However in the past few years SD Card storage hardware has been created for most of the vintage game platforms. These allow you to use ROM images on your actual hardware and with the great increases in available storage capacity over the years typically provide enough storage to include every released game for a platform on a single SD or micro-SD card. Mostly these flash storage solutions are old cartridge shells with the insides replaced with the modern circuit board and a slot cut in the shell to allow the SD-card to be inserted and removed. A menu screen is displayed when the console is switched on or reset that allows you to select the game required from those on the SD-card and the game is loaded from the storage card into the internal cartridge memory. From that point on the cartridge behaves exactly as the original game cartridge would. The cartridge ROM images are copied to the storage card by taking it out of the cartridge shell and using normal file copying on your more modern computer with SD-card reader. There is of course the legal aspect to take into account and strictly speaking you should not be downloading and storing ROM images for cartridges you do not own unless they have been made freely available by the copyright owner. Having said this, ROM images for cartridges you do own are widely available and there is a very healthy homebrew scene producing some excellent work for old platforms that require these storage solutions to run on original hardware. The three I will list here are examples...

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NEOGEO X GOLD entertainment system set for pre-Christmas 2012 release
Aug13

NEOGEO X GOLD entertainment system set for pre-Christmas 2012 release

It looks like we will be getting a new console this year after all. SNK Playmore have just announced the December 2012 release of their new NEO GEO X GOLD entertainment system. The system comprises of a stand-alone handheld unit, a base station and an arcade stick. The base station can be used to charge the handheld and/or transfer the arcade action to your TV set via HDMI or A/V connection. The unit will come pre-loaded with 20 NEOGEO classic games (listed below). It is set to retail at $199. This is something we have been looking forward to for some time now and we will be reviewing the system as soon as we can get our grubby hands on one. Hopefully this side of Yuletide. PRESS RELEASE: [This unedited press release is made available courtesy of RetroGamesCollector.com and its partnership with notable game PR-related resource GamesPress.] NEOGEO X GOLD ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM Announced for Worldwide Distribution Tommo Inc. sets release date and price for revolutionary gaming “system within a system” Los Angeles, Calif. – August 13, 2012 – Tommo, Inc., in partnership with SNK PLAYMORE, today confirmed that the NEOGEO X GOLD entertainment system is scheduled for a worldwide release this December. Following the 20th anniversary of the ground breaking NEOGEO AES console, the NEOGEO X GOLD entertainment system provides players with all of the features of a home arcade and the convenience of a handheld gaming device. The NEOGEO X GOLD entertainment system is set for a worldwide release on December 6, 2012 for a suggested retail price of $199.99 (USD). The NEOGEO X GOLD entertainment system comes complete with the NEOGEO X Station, the NEOGEO X Handheld with 20 pre-loaded NEOGEO classic titles, and the NEOGEO X Joystick. In addition to coming pre-loaded with 20 NEOGEO classic titles, the NEOGEO X Handheld device features a crisp 4.3″ LCD display, an expandable game card slot, internal stereo speakers, and a 3.5mm headphone jack for a personal gaming experience you can take anywhere. The NEOGEO X Handheld device works with the NEOGEO X Joystick and NEOGEO X Station to charge the handheld device and transfer the action directly to a television set or monitor, via HDMI or A/V out, for a true arcade experience right at home. The full list of NEOGEO X Handheld pre-installed games is as follows: 3 COUNT BOUT LEAGUE BOWLING   ART OF FIGHTING II MAGICIAN LORD   ALPHA MISSION II METAL SLUG   BASEBALL STARS II MUTATION NATION   CYBER LIP NAM 1975   FATAL FURY PUZZLED   FATAL FURY SPECIAL REAL BOUT – FATAL FURY SPECIAL   THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’95 SAMURAI...

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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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Looking forward to release of the GameGadget in March
Feb20

Looking forward to release of the GameGadget in March

We can’t tell you how much we are looking forward to the release of the new GameGadget console next month. For those of you that haven’t heard of this new device here’s the lowdown: Its being billed as the ‘Go Anywhere – Play Everything’ games console and the ‘iPod for games’. It has been created (unlike open source handhelds like the GP2X, Wiz and Canoo) to be a platform for the legitimate (legal!) use of game ROMs. It will utilise it’s own iTunes-like software service called GameGadgetGames and will enable the purchase and download of legal versions of your favourite games. The GameGadget will be capable of playing over 100,000 classic games titles over various platforms from early retro games through to more recent offerings. The unit will also be a multimedia device capable of storage and playback of video, audio, ebooks and images. The device will accept SD cards to expand its internal memory allowing you to carry and store thousands of games in your pocket. Hardware specs (from GameGadget website): CPU core: 433mhz dual core CPU  Internal Ram: 64MB RAM / 2GB Flash RAM Input: D-Pad, 2 shoulder, 4 face, Start, Select & Reset buttons Outputs: Stereo Speakers, Headphones Jack & TV-out Display: 3.5” LCD Screen Resolution: 320 x 240 pixels resolution (16 BIT colour) Battery: Li-Ion (rechargeable) Additional Storage: SD/SDHC Connectivity: Micro USB Dimensions: 140 W x 75 H x 16 D (mm) As soon as we get hold of one we will be reviewing it right here so watch this space… (Edit: Although we were promised a review unit by Blaze Europe, they never actually sent one – hence no review, sorry!) Pricing is £99.99 and according to the Game Gadget website will be released on March 31st...

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iCade 8-Bitty bluetooth joypad to be released by Thinkgeek
Feb20

iCade 8-Bitty bluetooth joypad to be released by Thinkgeek

If you are looking for some retro-gaming action on your iPad or iPhone then this new device based on a classic NES controller might just tick your boxes. The brains behind the original arcade style iCade cabinet controller, Thinkgeek, have just shown the iCade 8-Bitty at the 2012 New York Toy Fair and plan to launch it later this year. The 8-Bitty has eight buttons – four of which are on the front, two shoulder buttons, start and select buttons with the usual D-pad. It also has a woodgrain effect front edge, a la Atari VCS. Pricing is estimated to be around £16 and the unit is not only compatible with iOS devices but also Android. Like the iCade cabinet it connects via bluetooth so looks like being the ultimate portable controller for gaming sessions on your iOS device, Android smartphone or tablet. It will be compatible with lots of apps already released that are iCade compatible, but as Thinkgeek warn us, Atari Greatest Hits app will only work on iPad and not iPhone or Android. We will review one of these great looking devices as soon as they become available so watch this space… iCade 8-Bitty on the Thinkgeek...

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