A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

[Let's Play] Party Like its 1987! Let's Experience the Atari Computer! Part 3 of 2013: 18 or so Month Retrospective and Follow Up.

My it has been a damned while since I updated this little project, discounting this mini double update that finished here: http://wargamedork.blogspot.com/2013/02/lets-play-party-like-its-1987-lets.html .

I am calling this update a basic "what have I done and where am I going?" post.  I will show off my entire collection as it currently stands, talk a little bit about my experiences, and what I will do next.

First off, my mostly alphabetized and organized games:

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.

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 my February 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 damn 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.

Oh and a few more:
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 I am 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 1 & 2, 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.

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