The Bear Essentials: Developing a Commodore 64 game – Part 5
Jun11

The Bear Essentials: Developing a Commodore 64 game – Part 5

Creating Caverns I wrote about creating rooms back in part 3 of this series and how I began to store the room data in memory.  But of course, rooms in the game have to fit together to form a world in which the character will explore on their journey. With my game I thought it would be good to split this world into different areas where a number of rooms will be grouped together and have a common theme. I actually came up with this idea fairly early on, as I always find it easier to play through games when you exit one area and find yourself in a new area that looks completely different.  It keeps the game feeling fresh and encourages exploration. The first map I sketched for the game had 60 rooms.  I picked this number to aim for as I figured this would allow all rooms to be visited in around an hour, and also as this is the size of Miner Willy’s mansion in the first Jet Set Willy game, which is a joy to explore without feeling too overwhelming. I split the map into eight different areas:  Home, Forest, Cloudy, Rocky, Mining, Jungle, Tunnel and Secret.  However, I soon opted to cut this down to six areas (taking out Tunnel and Secret) when I realised how much work was going to be involved in creating a different look, and ideally, a piece of music for all areas.  With only 64kb to work with, memory was also a consideration here too! The map went through four revisions, until I settled on a final design. The Home area would be where the player starts and finishes the game.  This leads into the first ‘proper’ area of the game, which is Forest and serves as an introduction as to how the game is played and what the objectives are. From Forest, the player can opt to exit the area in two places which lead to ‘continue’ rooms, where the player is awarded an extra credit and a new point to start from when continuing after death.  These continue rooms also serve as a break from the game and a hub to which the other areas of the game are accessible. I decided to keep one special area of the game locked until all others have been cleared in the Mining area. This area works differently to the rest of the game, and forms the final part of the players journey back to the Home area.  It takes inspiration from Manic Miner and the very first idea I had for the game, which was to only allow...

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Spectrum Addict film cover art by Oliver Frey revealed
Jun09

Spectrum Addict film cover art by Oliver Frey revealed

The upcoming film by Andy Remic – Memoirs of a Spectrum Addict now has an amazing looking cover, produced by none other than the renowned artist Oliver Frey, famous amongst gamers of course for his Crash and Zzap! 64 magazine artwork. We think it looks amazing and really captures the look and feel of those iconic 80s Crash magazine covers. There are still a couple of days left to get your own name in the film credits so head on over to remicmedia.com/speccyaddict/ and order a...

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Spectrum Vega+ hands on – video and mini review
Apr09

Spectrum Vega+ hands on – video and mini review

Playing Halls of the Things Playing Halls of the Things The Spectrum Vega+ on top of an original Spectrum for size comparison Ant Harper surprised at how small the Vega actually is Will thought the size about right Will plays with a Vega+ This report was written by Will Woodvine, photography and video by Ant Harper. Disclosure: I backed the Vega+ Indiegogo campaign but requested and received a refund over the Christmas period. I asked for a refund due to what I perceive to be the appalling lack of information provided to backers. The opinion below is my own and is not influenced by inducement or coercion by any parties. It is written as a fan of the ZX Spectrum. I attended the Dizzy event with no knowledge that the Spectrum Vega+ would be present, so was unprepared. Like any true retro-gaming fan I spent Saturday 8th April, the sunniest and warmest day of the year so far, in a darkened room with no windows looking at computer games. The event was the Dizzy 30th anniversary in Nottingham. This took the form of a presentation by the Oliver Twins which covered their early years, mentioned the ZX81 (huzzah!) and gave me a greater insight in to the Dizzy world. At the start of the presentation a gentleman (who I think was Lee Fogarty) came down to the front and handed one of the Twins a white box. Inside was a Vega+. This was shown to the crowd, causing a slight stirring, and then placed on the podium. At the end presentation the Vega+ was left unattended so I took the opportunity to grab it and have a close look. At no time was there any interference from anyone or any attempt made to stop me from using it or Ant Harper, Simon Williams or Simon Osborne from using, photographing or videoing the device. I believe the device to be the pre-production device that has been seen previously. The hardware The device feels good in the hands, fitting well – I have medium sized hands. I gave the unit a torsional twist and the unit did not flex, which reinforced the positive feel of the device. The screen is bright and clear, easily read by someone who normally needs glasses to read and wasn’t wearing them. The buttons were an issue being unresponsive – you have to press them precisely for them to react. This maybe the “switch re-design” referred to by RCL. Simon Osborne has reported that he used a corrected production unit and the buttons were much more responsive. The spectrum flash is a sticker (peeling now) and...

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The Fantasy Art of Oliver Frey Extended Edition – review
Oct17

The Fantasy Art of Oliver Frey Extended Edition – review

I have a confession to make. To my shame, I never bought the first version of this book – The Fantasy Art of Oliver Frey – when it was first published back in 2006. There, I feel better now that’s off my chest. However, I feel that now it may have been a good thing. You see, if I had of made that purchase – it may have spoiled me for the beautiful book I received in the post just yesterday, an extended edition of that book, which had me exclaiming “whoah!” to a room devoid of other people as I unpacked and turned it’s pages for the first time. Yes, this book has impact. If, like many of us, you were messing around with home computers in the early 80s and live in the UK you will undoubtedly have heard of and seen Oliver Frey’s now legendary cover art for the likes of Crash, Zzap! 64 and Amtix! The book, which was funded via Kickstarter in April this year, is both the story of Oliver Frey’s career as an illustrator and a showcase for the amazing fantasy art he produced both for the Newsfield videogame magazines and his many other commissions. These covered everything from children’s history book covers to the inlays for the videogames themselves. Inside the book The Fantasy Art of Oliver Frey – Extended Edition by Roger M Kean (Reckless Books) is a large-format hardback book, measuring approximately 23 x 29 cm and protected with a full colour glossy dust-jacket. Starting with a foreword by Roger Kean – former managing director and senior publishing executive at Newsfield – then heading straight into a 26 page biography, it tells the fascinating story of the Oli’s life and career both in his country of birth – Switzerland, and in England. As might be expected, a lot of focus is put on the video game boom and the prolific Newsfield years, with some great photographs of Oli working on Crash artwork and other images of the team behind the now fabled monthly magazines working from their offices in Ludlow. But let’s face it. As interesting as all that is – and it really is – what this particular publication is about, is the artwork. And this is where the book really comes to life, with the remainder of the pages dedicated to showcasing that artwork as vividly as possible with none of the graphics and other text which originally obscured much of his magazine and book illustrations. Beautifully printed, glossy, full colour spreads, split into genres, capture Oli’s work and turn this publication into the premium artbook it...

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The Little Book of Sinclair ZX Spectrum Games by Chris Wilkins – review
Sep23

The Little Book of Sinclair ZX Spectrum Games by Chris Wilkins – review

I will start out with a confession – that here at Retro Games Collector we are unashamed fans of the work of Retro Fusion Books. Their publications hit the sweet-spot of quality, content and price and it shows with The ZX Spectrum in Pixels trio, Commodore 64 in Pixels and The Story of US Gold books, all scoring an unprecedented top mark of 5/5 in our reviews. This latest book – The Little Book of Sinclair ZX Spectrum Games – combines a selection of the games covered in The ZX Spectrum in Pixels books, plus a few new ones – in a small, neat, hardback format which Chris based upon the popular Ashens book; Terrible Old Games You’ve Probably Never Heard Of. The book itself measures 162 x 162mm making it Fusion Retro’s smallest book yet. Inside the book As already stated, The Little Book of Sinclair ZX Spectrum Games is small and square in format with a nice matte black finish to the hardcover giving it a compact, classy feel. Within those covers there are 144 pages with a whopping 1oo games covered, interspersed with a foreword by Chris, images of the ZX Spectrum range of computers (from the 16K rubber key original to the +3) and Oliver Frey’s amazing magazine cover artwork. The games secreted within are now broken up intro genres; Sports Games, Arcade Adventure, Arcade, Adventure, Strategy/Puzzle, Fighting, Racing and Platform – with every game nicely indexed on the last few pages. Each game is given one page, with the synopsis underneath a screenshot of the game in question and a Crash magazine review score (if applicable) listed alongside. What is striking about Fusion Retro’s diminutive new offering is its overall feel of quality. The paper used is 150gsm which in non-printer speak means they are thicker than the norm, helping toward the quality feel that permeates throughout this title. The print quality is also noteworthy, with the screenshots bright, crisp and colourful, just like Spectrum graphics were… once we tuned our tellies in anyway. In Summary Another fantastic addition to the Fusion Retro Books stable. Absolutely perfect as a present for the Speccy-phile in your life (or for yourself!) especially with Christmas just around the corner. Even if you have the ‘in Pixels’ books already, this is still a must-buy with its handier ‘pocket’ size, great quality printing and extra reviews. No surprise then that this book also gets full marks from us. Pre-order your copy of The Little Book of Sinclair ZX Spectrum Games...

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The Masters of Pixel Art Volume 2 Kickstarter campaign launches
Sep15

The Masters of Pixel Art Volume 2 Kickstarter campaign launches

We see a lot of retro books being launched via Kickstarter these days, don’t we? And a lot of them are, well, a bit ‘same old-same old’. Occasionally though, one pops onto our reading radar that we just have to get involved with. One such book is The Masters of Pixel Art Volume 2, published by Nice Pixel, which launched its Kickstarter campaign this week looking for funds of kr130,000 (Swedish Krona) – or around £11,500. Unfortunately – and I have no idea how –  Volume 1 totally passed us by, which is unfortunate because it looks amazing too. The Masters of Pixel Art Volume 2 Double pack with Posters Double pack with Volume 1 The Masters of Pixel Art Volume 2 will be 216 pages of high quality 150g silk coated paper, featuring 41 artists and a staggering number of pixel art images – over 350. The cover is finished in white textile with silver foil, making it a stand-out book on your book case’s retro shelf. The book features images from the Commodore 64, together with pixel art from other 8bit machines such as the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Atari XL-XE, Commodore Plus/4 and MSX. Featured pixel-artists included in the book are AcidT*, Archmage, Carrion, Clone, Deev, Duce, Electric, Helm, ilesj, iLKke, Jailbird, Joe, Ken√´t, Leon, Louie64, Made, Mermaid, Mirage, Nero, Odyn1ec, Ooz, Oys, Pal, Piesiu, pRof, Prowler, ptoing, Redcrab, rexbeng, Sander, SIT, Skurwy, Slayer Grafix, STE, Stone, The Sarge, Twoflower, Valsary, Veto, Wayne Schmidt and Yazoo. Luckily for those who, like us, missed the first offering, this campaign has a Volume 1 and Volume 2 bundle pledge. Other pledge levels include: Poster collection : 32 sheets with 1 image per sheet, by 32 different artists (16 from vol. 1, 16 from vol. 2). Perfect to frame and put on the wall. Bookmarks : 50 unique bookmarks with images from 50 featured artists. Postcards : c64 PETSCII, pixel art images and c64 & Amiga pictures by Prowler See the Kickstarter Campaign page for further details or to pledge for one or more of these wonderful looking books.     Links Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nicepixel/the-masters-of-pixel-art-volume-2/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/themastersofpixelart/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/themastersofpixelart/ Publisher website: http://nicepixel.se/ Book website:...

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