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Sunday, 20 November 2016

CPC Retro Gaming

New games continually arriving for the Amstrad CPC... 
I’ve been playing quite a lot of Amstrad CPC games of late, it's quite easy to forget about the commercial world of gaming if you allow retro gaming to take over. Recently there's been all sorts of 8-bit competitions and some seriously good games have come out the other end. The library of new games and projects in the pipeline is phenomenal, for example, I'm playing Magica and Doomsday Lost Echoes on the CPC at the moment, with the classic Amiga game Pinball Dreams arriving shortly. I haven't even mentioned the new games I'm playing on my other retro systems, but what a fantastic problem to have, seriously though I can't keep up. I have Uncharted 4 and the new Tomb Raider just sitting idle on the shelf gathering dust, nowhere near enough hours in the day to play 'em all.  

My Amstrad CPC in 2016 has a wad of original titles, on par and exceeding in most cases the stuff I owned as a kid. I've purchased quite a few of these new games, in boxes with beautiful covers and well put together manuals, way too many to mention. I've also just finished playing another great game on the CPC called 'Golden Tail' an interesting game from Juan J. Martínez. There's plenty more I'm yet to play, but tThe internet and forums are rammed with people keeping these old computers alive, there's the CPC WIKI, brimming with games, emulators and all things CPC and If you're after reviews, then just check out cpc game reviews

I can't wait for 2017, maybe next year will bring us even more classic games, and break down barriers thought impossible, fingers crossed, we might even get to play a rewrite of Outrun for our CPC ;-)

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Saturday, 19 November 2016

SNES Classic Console


What's next for Nintendo? The NES Classic has sold out! More have been promised and I've already seen them selling on eBay for crazy prices. Here's the thing, I wager Nintendo are already considering a Super Nintendo classic console, with thirty maybe more great games. Here're fifteen of my own personal must-have games to be included with the system.

Star Fox, Super Star Wars, Mario Kart, Mortal Kombat, Super Mario World, Axelay, Street Fighter II Turbo, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, Chrono Trigger, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, Secret of Mana, Earthworm Jim 2 and Contra III: The Alien Wars.

There's much more I'd like to see, but Nintendo can be a bit stingy when it comes to their back catalogue of games, especially the Super Nintendo, you can see this play out with their current availability and pricing structure within the WiiU and 3DS virtual console, so not holding my breath.

Which games would you choose? 
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Thursday, 17 November 2016

HOTSHOT Amstrad CPC


I first played HotShot in 1998, it was a demo that came bundled on cassette with the latest issue of Amstrad Action! I loved it so much, but I was never able to fully experience the game in its entirety. I looked everywhere, but nobody stocked the game, even tried to get it on mail order, but that attempt failed miserably, instead they sent me a copy of Karnov, and I never bothered with mail order again! Strangely, I never to played it under emulation, but now in 2016, I've finally tracked it down, thanks to eBay and it's every bit as challenging as I remember.

This is Pinball, Arkanoid and Pong all mashed into one, it feels futuristic and there's a fantastic two player option. No time to spare, I need to get back to being a crack shot!

What the press thought!


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Monday, 14 November 2016

TANGLEWOOD: An original game for the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive

A brand new and original game for the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive, to be released on cartridge in winter 2017!

About this project 

Tanglewood is a brand new and original game for the SEGA Mega Drive, to be released in physical cartridge form in winter 2017.

Set in the realm of Tanglewood, the game follows a young creature, Nymn, separated from the pack after the sun sets. Unable to get back to the safety of the family's underground home, Nymn must find a way to survive the night terrors and get to morning. Tanglewood’s world is a dangerous one after dark; guiding Nymn you must use your skills of evasion, traps and trickery to defeat predators.



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'All in one' Consoles, some random thoughts...

I’m sitting here staring at a blank white Microsoft Word background. My head is swimming with random retro thoughts, however, I haven’t got a clue where I’m gonna go with this, but I'll give it a shot. 

I've currently been thinking about all these new remakes i.e. The NES, Megadrive and five hundred other devices that are currently available or incoming. Initially, I was really excited by it all, but in essence, these are just more lumps of plastic that I’ve already collected. In 2016, shouldn't we be able to play all our favourite games on a single platform?

For sure we have the PC and Raspberry Pie, but I’m thinking more along the lines of a SEGA console that plays all SEGA games, for example; SMS, Megadrive, Game Gear, 32X, Saturn, and Dreamcast all in one lovely lump of Japanese plastic. The same goes for Nintendo, Atari and any other console manufacturer, sick of the prospect of buying yet another lump of plastic and feeling restricted to only one genre of console.

I did warn you it would be random, I’m not even sure if the technology is available, despite living in 2016? In theory, it wouldn’t need anything more powerful than a Dreamcast, with multiple slots and a GD-ROM drive; essentially it would be yesterday’s tech at rock bottom prices, with full compatibility with all regions of games and support for enhanced carts. I know we have the Retron 5, but it just doesn’t feel like enough, I wanna play my 32X and Game Gear all in one place.

It would also need to include support for an SD slot and all the original gamepads and peripherals, which would include a light gun conversion, with a Wii-like gun that would work on LCD TV’s; a keyboard for games such as ‘Typing of the Dead’ would also be beneficial. Would it really be that difficult for the creative juices of SEGA and Nintendo to come up with such a thing instead of drip feeding retro gaming enthusiasts with one iteration at a time?
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Sunday, 13 November 2016

Tales in Tech History: Amstrad And The House Sugar Built


Amstrad once competed against the likes of Commodore and Sinclair Spectrum, and was a leading British tech star
Before he became a finger pointing “you’re fired” character on a television series, Sir Alan Sugar was the founder of a company called Amstrad.
Indeed, the Amstrad name is a contraction of Alan Michael Sugar Trading, and it is fair to say that the company has sold a wide range of tech products in its time.

Golden Era

Amstrad was founded back in the 1960s (1968 to be exact with the name AMS Trading) by then plain old Alan Sugar, an east end businessman and wheeler-dealer.
Sugar made his name by marketing and sourcing tech goods cheaply from the Far East, packing them up into useful devices, and making them affordable to the European consumer market.
amstrad-cpc464The company began life selling cheap hi-fi systems, amplifiers, televisions and even car stereo cassette players in 1970s.
But it was the 1980s that proved to be the company’s golden era, and Amstrad was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1980 and never looked back as growth skyrocketed.
During this decade it began supplying home computers such as the CPC 464 to European consumers and competed head to head with two of the biggest players of that time – Commodore and Sinclair Research.
Amstrad was also known  for its PCW range of home computers, which were essentially nothing more than a word processor, coupled with a printer.
sinclair-zx-spectrum-540x334Then in 1986 it purchased Sinclair and all its related products, including the ZX Spectrum, for just £5 million.
Alan Sugar’s business acumen was demonstrated as Amstrad more than recovered this outlay by selling off surplus Spectrum machines, as well the next generation ZX Spectrum +2 that came with a built-in tape drive and the ZX Spectrum +3 (with a built-in floppy disk drive).
In 1986 Amstrad also branched out into selling affordable personal computers running MS-DOS (with the GEM graphics interface), which proved to be highly popular and allowed Amstrad to capture a staggering 25 percent of the European computer market.
Amstrad later began supplying Windows-based computers, using 286 & 386 processor technology.
In 1989 a satellite television company called Sky launched in the United Kingdom, and from day one Amstrad was one of its main suppliers of set top boxes (alongside Pace Technology).
Read the full article at http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/workspace/pc/tales-tech-history-amstrad-200573
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Saturday, 12 November 2016

Twin Turbo V8


A good sense of speed in a driving game is one of the most vital ingredients, but is there such a thing as too fast?

Not many driving games on the Amstrad CPC move at a fair old lick, but Twin Turbo from Codemasters threw out the rule book, breaking the Z80 speed barrier for Amstrad racers. This game is frantic, nerve-shredding almost, where driving dangerously seems to be the norm.

Twin Turbo takes the traditional arcade concept where you race to the finish line over five stages. The car resembles a Ferrari, similar to the F40 seen in Turbo Outrun, only faster! The sense of speed is highly convincing, giving you the feeling that you are up against it, with other cars reacting to your movement. Every race feels dangerous, the pace is fast and weaving through traffic, negotiating corners and desperately trying to see over the brow of a hill requires massive concentration and good reflexes.

Unfortunately, accidents will happen, in fact, lots of crashes will happen, this is just as much about flooring the gas pedal as it is about learning the layout of the road. Driving without due care and attention will cause an incident at the most inconvenient times, with a spectacular crash that will cost you from winning the race, and it's this learning curve that lifts the game out of the ordinary.    

The constant supply of hills, dips and fast corners can prove a bit disorientating, but the ridiculous fast action keeps you at it. That's pretty much Twin Turbo in a nutshell. What? Do I like Twin Turbo? Well yeah, it's quite cool for an 8bit game. Even despite punching my keyboard for unavoidable crashes. It may not be perfect, but it certainly does its job. When it all comes together, it can be absolutely brilliant, crossing the finish line will have you punching the air.

Back in the day, this was high-speed racing on a budget, highly infuriating but always thrilling.     
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Just bought Crazy Cars 3

I've always wanted to own this game on the Amstrad CPC, I own it on the Amiga and it's a great game, but unfortunately I'm looking for a replacement disk, as it no longer works. Despite loving this game on the Amiga, I really like the Amstrad CPC version, obviously, it pales in comparison, but I found it highly enjoyable none the less.

So a couple of days ago, I stumble across a copy of CC3 on disk for the CPC, manual, poster and all the gubbins included, with the box in almost perfect condition. I put three offers in before the seller finally settled on what I felt was a good deal for the both of us. Today the game arrived and it's in near perfect condition, I'm gobsmacked. It came bubble wrapped up to high heaven, so I carefully opened, slowly peeling back the layers and there it was, a thing of beauty that I'd been tracking down for almost twenty years, my Crazy cars collection is now complete.

The game is actually rather cool, ahead of its time almost, the story goes; you've just arrived in the USA, with your heart set on becoming the next Donald Trump. Unfortunately, your only real skills are street racing, and America is the number 1 place in the world for illegal underground highway activity. As chance would have it, you run into an old friend down on his luck, he offers to sell you his Lamborghini Diablo, you buy it at a rock bottom price, leaving you with only a few thousand dollars, with your sights set firmly on entering your first race.

Your car is equipped with a five-speed gearbox, super or regular tyres, night vision and a handy turbo button. There's also a vehicle class system that determines the performance of your car as you progress, the more you customise, the more this bumps up your class. There are fifteen races available in each division, but each comes with an entry fee and a prize if you win, just try not to damage your car.

To sum up, there are four divisions to race through, a garage where you can upgrade and repair your car, a betting system at the start of each race, police chasing you, tough competitors including a chap called 'Sal Capone' and lots of dirty tricks. But the greatest of all is that you can load or save progress.

It's not for everyone, it's insanely tough, you'll twat your Lambo loads when you first play, might be a bit serious for some, but I simply had to have it as there is nothing else like it on the CPC. CC3 owned the Amiga, and the experience comes across half decent on the Amstrad.

  
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Tuesday, 8 November 2016

I thought The Real Driving Simulator was crap!


I'm not entirely convinced the first Gran Turismo was a great game. Phew! Glad I got that out of the way. It looked horrendous, cars were blocky as hell and the road and trackside objects would sometimes disappear, only to be replaced by clear blue sky. In fact, it was only during the super sharp replays that I thought "Wow! That's nay bad". Personally, I wasn't mightily impressed with this early form of 3D and I wonder if anyone else feel the same way? In my opinion it just wasn't kind to the eyes. I could see lots of clever things going on, but I couldn't get passed the 'Artex' like display. I didn't feel the horsepower either, it felt a bit 'pedestrian', I had a similar feeling with Porche Challenge, I guess I'm trying to say that I expected something zippier. I wasn't massively impressed with the car detail either, the car's you picked from the showroom look nothing like the actual car that lines up on the grid; to be honest, apart from the delicious replays, it just felt like a messy experience, mixed with bad sound effects and fantastic music.

For something that took five years to develop, it didn't feel like a finished product to me. I really wanted to like this game, but it's no fun racing around in family hatchbacks, or the equivalent to my father in law's S-Reg VW camper van. Petrol heads probably loved this sort of thing and I fully understand that I'm sitting firmly in the minority here, especially when you consider that GT went on to become Playstation's biggest selling title.

I think Kazunori Yamauchi's GT dream ultimately coexisted, competed and then blew away the then arcade culture, and ultimately set the wheels in motion for trends to come. Personally, I just didn't feel it. Crazy, I know, I've had this conversation many times; people think I'm joking; maybe I felt short changed or something. I bought GT half expecting an arcade experience, when in reality the clues were there, right in front of my face, loud and proud on the box: "Real Driving Simulator". I suppose the initial damage was already done the minute I played through the arcade mode, it was an absolute joke, a complete time waster, over in a flash. GT-Mode was your only viable option; the only true race and the place where you'd spend the next sixty or more hours. 


I remember the game started with a measly 10,000 credits and the best car you could hope to afford at this stage was the equivalent of an Aldi's shopping trolley. All the good stuff was locked away, with race payouts that left me feeling like climbing a mountain might have been easier. Worse still, the ridiculous price for some of the cars! Did anyone even unlock all of these high priced monsters? Talk about restricting progress, it was only my continued obsession with a pixelated DB7 that kept me going through this lacklustre experience.

Another thing that I find massively arrogant is that Polyphony continues to ignore requests for car model damage, which I find ridiculous when you consider the likes of Codemasters and Bizzare Creations have been smashing polygons together for as long as I can remember. The AI in the game was, and still is, laughable. The other cars stick to the track like a Scalextric and there's literally no change between the different versions; the menu and graphics constantly receive updates, but the game essentially remains the same, with a few extra tracks thrown in for good measure and let's not even debate the tedious licencing system!

I'm up for a challenge, mad for it, that's why I parted with my cash on day one, but the enormity of the challenge has to be an interesting one. To begin with, it didn't capture my interest in the same way Outrun, Burnout or MSR did. I'm up for realism, but not getting anywhere fast in a game that I felt encouraged me to drive badly, massively puts me off. It's not the simulators fault, or the programmers, they did everything asked of them, it's just not a great game and I found it boring!
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Monday, 7 November 2016

PowerDrift 3DS

I'm sure gaming enthusiasts everywhere at one point or another have experienced the arcade behemoth that is Power Drift! In my humble opinion, it is still a great racing game, especially when you consider that it was released way back in 1988? I also had the Amstrad CPC version which turned out to be one of the best arcade conversions for the CPC. It looks a bit messy these days, but back then it felt just as fresh and in y' face as the arcade original. Seriously, it was like a roller coaster ride on steroids. I'm now playing the new 3DS port, which was released by Sega on their Classics Collection compilation, but I'm really struggling. Even on the lowest difficulty, I can't make it past the fifth stage, across any of the twenty-five different circuits. Thrilling and exciting this game might be, but far more difficult than I remember.

Lucky for SEGA fans, we now have a 3DS port, re-written and lovingly crafted in 3D. As with 'Outrun' released last year, SEGA has given things more than a lick of paint. The original was powered by Sega's Y-Board hardware, with sprite scaling the likes I'd never seen before. But here we have it running at sixty frames per second, with full-screen tilt and unbelievably tight controls, minus the crash and shunt of the arcade cabinet.  

Yu Suzuki's Powerdrift is fast, smooth, and powerful, just like he intended and each circuit boasts an incredible tune, in fact, it's some of Sega's finest work. If you can't get your hands on the arcade original or the Yu Suzuki Game Works - Dreamcast collection, this is definitely the next best thing.  
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Saturday, 5 November 2016

SEGA, you had me at Turbo Outrun!

Most people associate gaming with kids' classics like Outrun, Space Harrier and Streets of Rage are games that have lived on and continue to live on through adults. Nowadays, it feels as if SEGA has tapped into this and is on a mission to re-release most of their prized possessions, such as PowerDrift, a perfect racer in which you race across all sorts of weird and wonderful structures, or the legendary Outrun, it took me years to properly master this Yu Suzuki classic, it was like no other racer in the world.

But it's the imminent arrival of Turbo Outrun that has me real excited, it's not quite "Outrun" I mean you can't really compare the two, for example, the sequel is more of an atmospheric hi-octane race, that transports the player through nearly every road-like extremity. Gone are the branching paths and selectable soundtracks, but it does have better graphics and more features, including upgrading your car between stages, and more importantly, you can go turbo!

I agree with gematsu's recent website article, they mentioned this about the upcoming 3DS version "the centrepiece title of the collection is Turbo Outrun, which was the number one most requested title from a survey."

Read more at http://gematsu.com/2016/09/sega-3d-fukkoku-archives-3-final-stage-adds-turbo-outrun-three-new-ports-announced#K7hQPOSwbYWHq5pR.99

For me, it's great to see Turbo Outrun making an appearance. I'm not gonna lie to you, I've been waiting for a good home conversion for as long as I can remember, the game has been crying out for a great port ever since the SEGA Saturn and Dreamcast arrived. Just look what SEGA achieved on the Saturn with Galaxy Force 2, Outrun, Space Harrier and Afterburner, arcade perfection, so why did they ignore Turbo Outrun?

SEGA, past master and kings of the arcade during the 80's and 90's, weren't responsible for the horrors of the home conversion. I originally owned it on the Amstrad CPC, it was a colourful and valiant attempt, but it just couldn't match the pace of the arcade original, the Atari ST version very nearly made it, but it was far too choppy and lacked the thrills of the arcade, the C64 probably felt the closest of the lot, but despite having a thumping great soundtrack, the poor graphics and loading times killed what should have been a fast-paced experience. I've heard about the FM Towns version, and it looks like I missed out, but failing that, I've never played anything that competed with the arcade original.

This new 3DS Turbo Outrun appears to have nailed it, from what I've seen and heard, the game looks awesome! And according to various reports, improves over the arcade original by running in a re-programmed 16:9 format whilst using 3D. Yes, that's correct, this is the arcade 
Turbo Out Run, not the SEGA Megadrive version. SEGA put a lot of effort into their last Outrun 3DS port, so I can't wait to see how this ends up.


I just have one question for SEGA, is it too much effort to release Turbo Outrun as a separate download?

Turbo Outrun on the 3DS includes the following new features: 

Interim Save: Can instantly save the game state anytime

Interim Load: Loads the above interim save

Replay: Records own gameplay for later viewing. Replays can be fast forwarded

Select Function: After each four stages, it will be possible to freely change the three-part upgrades

Difficulty: Choose from five difficulty level stars; this feature is new and did not exist in original version

Time Limit: Choose from five-time levels
BGM Version: Choose from 2 BGM order types; TYPE 1 starts with Shake the Street, TYPE 2 starts with Rush a Difficulty

Gear Type: Choose between Switch (tapping the Gear Change button will switch between High and Low) and Hold (press and hold Gear Change for Low, release for High) types

Screen Size: Choose between Normal (4:3, same as the original), Wide (Screen stretched to fit with 3DS’ upper screen), Full (Fills the entire upper screen), or Reduced (To give the situation of playing in arcades)

Cabinet Type: Cockpit re-enacts the red cabinet most common in Japan. Deluxe is a white cabinet, the same as the first OutRun. Upright is playing while standing. Cockpit (Moving Cockpit) is the same cabinet as Cockpit but will move based on steer movement like Deluxe.

Equaliser: Process the sounds played from the game

Environment Sounds: If set to “On”, it will play various sounds from other game cabinets, to give the feel of playing in arcades

Engine Volume: The volume for engine sound can be set in three levels

BGM Test: Can listen to the in-game music anytime
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Friday, 4 November 2016

SEGA MEGA-CD

The SEGA Mega-CD was supposed to be the future of electronic entertainment, but what went wrong?

I don't recall that much excitement around the Mega-CD in the UK. However; I do recall being rightly pissed off with Sega for launching the Mega-CD a whole two years after it's initial launch in Japan. By the time I got mine, it was late October 1993... the UK launch price was way more expensive than originally anticipated, and the wait continued until I eventually raised the extra funds. I ended up with a Mega-CD MKII model, but happily handed over my hard earned cash, safe in the knowledge that SEGA couldn't possibly screw things up, in fact thinking about it now, "How did they?". SEGA had brand power, marketing might, and Megadrive established living room space "Surely failure was inconceivable?"

I completely forget how many months had flown by, all merges into one after a while, but I do recall being quietly convinced that sales were looking good. The magazines of the day, weren't spreading any real doom and gloom and I'd already purchased a few games 'Terminator' and 'Final Fight' safe in the knowledge that the Mega-CD had already sold thousands of units within no time at all, so WTF? Things felt kinda rosy to me. 
I was maybe a year into the life of my Mega-CD, and it appeared as though 3rd party developers were finally starting to gather steam. Good games were finally arriving, but they were becoming difficult to track down, and the likes of Kojima's Snatcher, Keio, Lords of Thunder, Lunar, Batman, Ecco and Sonic CD proved almost impossible to track down. 

I think it might have been a Saturday afternoon, I walked into the local video and games shop and searched the entire length but couldn't find the Mega-CD section. I asked the chap behind the counter, and he said that they'd stopped selling the system, games had pretty much dried up and nobody was buying the system anymore. I left thinking he must be mistaken, this was a SEGA console FFS! As the dust settled, then came the eventual realisation that SEGA wasn't at their best, the chap in the shop was right, the console had suffered from a distinct lack of games, some trickled through, but they weren't great. In fact, the games on offer were proving lacklustre at best, Tomcat Alley, The Smurfs and Sewer Shark, I mean cmon! If that wasn't bad enough, we also had to contend with a mountain of re-hashed crap from yesteryear consoles. I hadn't felt this fucking ripped off since buying a GX4000.  

In hindsight, the SEGA Mega-CD never stood a chance. SEGA were way too wrapped up clutching at FMV and didn't spend enough time or money on correctly marketing their vision. The high price probably didn't help either, and let's be honest, she wasn't much of a looker. I don't think anyone has ever completely nailed the reason it failed, but it seems to me as though SEGA's marketing team never fully understood their product, collectively displaying all the mechanics of a badly flushed toilet.  

As you've probably guessed, I wasn't a happy bunny. My Megadrive to Mega-CD wasn't the stepping stone or experience I'd hoped for, instead, early adopters, myself included had no choice but to sit there and watch SEGA not only kill off its multimedia revolution but to do so with an arrogant and complacent attitude, without the decency of offering up anything like the many gaming memories the Megadrive instilled. History only ever remembers the victor, the MEGA-CD wasn't a case of the Emperors new clothes, it was genuinely something different, felt innovative and in my humble opinion, a massively underrated bit of kit. It had the potential to be a great video games console, packed a punch with its CD-based storage, and the CPU was charged with enough umffph to get the job done. It would have been perfect for Guitar Hero, as the audio hardware rocked. And until this day, I’m still convinced we didn't hear or see the best of it. The Mega-CD could have easily turned out to be the real deal and was even voted 'Best New Peripheral by Electronic Gaming monthly.
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Thursday, 3 November 2016

Steve Jobs Knew Tim Cook Would Kill Apple’s Innovation By Focusing on Sales and Marketing

"Crook?" "Inventor?" "Innovator?" or "Bully?"...   

For those who don't have Linkedin, I've spared you the pain of signing up in the hope that you will read this damning article of Tim Cook. Completely unjustified in my opinion, I mean didn't Steve Jobs rip off Xerox, doesn't sound very innovative to me? In fact, if it wasn't for George Lucas and the divorce from his wife, he would never have sold Pixar to Jobs for five million dollars. People have short memories. I believe Jobs wrote the book on marketing and sales and was a visionary in regards to product placement in the world, but let's not talk as though he invented it.   
This article was written by QuHarrison Terry. You can follow the below link for more detail:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/steve-jobs-knew-tim-cook-would-kill-apples-innovation-terry
When we lose a great innovator or leader, there’s a big void that forms in all of us. This longing for what we lost causes us to become infatuated with finding “the next so and so” to fill their shoes--like the numerous players that have been called the next Michael Jordan, but haven’t lived up to the legacy.
Unfortunately, no matter how well that person can emulate their predecessor, it will never be the same. Innovation has to come from a place of hungry desire to change the world in your own way; not the way someone before you had laid out.
For this reason, innovation very often comes from the “little-guy” or “a nobody”--the person or team working out of their garage with the vision to change their industry and and the high aptitude for risk.
As companies form, take on capital, and begin growing into a large corporation, there are a lot of barriers which prevent them from taking those same risks. Whether it is a strict board of directors, poor company culture, or the fear of losing it all, established companies lack the ability to make risky, innovative moves.
In 2011, Apple lost more than Steve Jobs. They lost their unique, rebellious nature. With Steve in charge, they had a win-at-all-costs attitude, that went against business norms and the expectations of their investors and board. Similar to the Detroit Pistons Bad Boys in the late 80s, who were notorious for getting in fights during games but winning championships, Steve was set on changing the world and he didn’t care how it would get done.
One particular case is the time Steve gave Carly Fiorina and HP their own branded iPod, so that HP/Compaq computers would allow iTunes Music store to be the go to for media instead of Windows Media Player. Shortly thereafter, Apple upgraded to the next version of iPod, thus making HP’s version outdated.
With Tim Cook at the helm, we’ve seen Apple transform into a luxurious IoT jewelry store, essentially offering the world nice jewelry that connects to the internet. Tim is an operations and execution type guy. Obviously, he isn’t running Apple into the ground any time soon, being that they are the most profitable company in the US, but he doesn’t have the same rebellious attitude as Steve.
By letting systems for optimization and heavy focus on profits lead the company, a lot of the creativity dies. Instead, they are more focused on incremental improvements to their existing devices--adding a diamond here or there.
Since 2011, the iPhone’s design has changed once, the transition between 5 and 6. Yes, they’ve made it waterproof, eliminated the headphone jack, and upgraded the camera for the tenth time, but there is really no big innovation in that--just incremental improvements.
Motorola took the biggest risk, something we would’ve seen out of Jobs, with their creation of the modular phone: Moto Z. Motorola clearly beat Apple in phone innovation.
Although the Touch Bar in MacBook Pro looks promising, the entire device is far from innovative. By taking away the USB port and the SD card reader, we lose the fundamental capabilities we need to succeed.
How can Apple transition back to being the innovators?
Quite frankly, Apple’s time as the world’s foremost innovator may be over.
Steve Blank mentions in an article that as an operations-focused CEO, Tim Cook got rid of a lot of the chaos and turbulence in Apple and replaced it with process and structure. This is great for predictability (for the investors), but gives rise to the creative death spiral.
Steve Jobs knew this would happen when he appointed Tim Cook as CEO. In this video, Jobs talks about sales and marketing people taking over companies and pushing the creative, product oriented people out of the decision-making forums. He goes on to say, “As a result, the companies forget what it means to make great products.”
Realistically, they are missing the top-down mindset of creative chaos. The idea that you shouldn’t attack any problem with the same process you attacked the last problem. It’s about letting that chaos of ideas overwhelm your thoughts. Making connections between seemingly random things. And when you hit those roadblocks, controlling the situation by taking a break, trusting the chaotic approach, and not falling back into an old process.
Jobs loved to have walking meetings to hash out ideas and reclaim that creative flow.
You have a better chance at two balls colliding, by throwing a hundred of them down the stairs than you do by tossing one in the air and throwing another one at it. Innovation comes from making connections that don’t seem possible; by doubting the way something is currently done and replacing it with a new way.
These connections aren’t made through systematic processes. Innovation stems from controlled chaos. Einstein was famous for his messy desk covered in idea-filled papers...not an orderly notebook of theories.
The chaotic part of creativity can come from the influx of inspiration. Realizing the importance of external inspiration, I created Quick Theories--a brief, weekly newsletter of creative insights. So, if you feel like you can handle another stream of creative inspiration, you can sign up here: quicktheories.com
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Wednesday, 2 November 2016

SONIC CD - FREE ON APP STORE!!!


It's been a while since I've played the original Sonic CD game on an actual MegaCD, setting the console up can be a messy affair at best, spaghetti quickly comes to mind. For me it was a great console, that never fully realised its true potential, but Sonic CD gave us a glimpse of what might have been.

I read an article somewhere last week, that mentioned Sonic CD would be released as a 'Free App of the Week', I got really excited about this announcement, as I've been looking for a good excuse and the right time to play this game on iOS. For me, this is not only the greatest Sonic game ever made, but it featured some of the best locations, level design and music I've ever heard on a Sega console.

Everything appears to have survived the transition, from Mega-CD to iOS, only this time they've ditched the 90s 4:3 in favour of a 16:9 aspect ratio, it's not stretched either, as seen with so many other games in the App store, it's as if they've rebuilt the look and feel of the screen, the graphics look crisper and more colourful than before, and the controls and performance are bloody excellent. I can't believe how fast it feels fast, I haven't played a Sonic game this fun and frantic since Sonic Adventure. So yeah, it's the real deal, just as good, maybe better than playing it on the original Mega-CD.

There's lot's of extra content, leaderboards for single play, Tails is included as an unlockable character, with Sonic 3 abilities. The better you perform, the more you unlock. Sadly, the game is rife with intrusive adverts, but I guess this is the price you pay these days for the free version, not an issue if you paid for the original. It would have been nice to have included additional characters, I think this is a missed opportunity.

Despite the above, this is still the ultimate Sonic experience on your iOS device, so what are you waiting for, go grab it!
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Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Limited Edition Sega Mega Drive with SD Slot



In a surprising turn of events, Sega has authorised TecToy to bring back their classic Sega Megadrive console in limited edition form. Brazil is the first place the console will be launched, and TecToy are already taking orders. It looks exactly like the classic design of the 90s original, only this time includes an SD Card slot and 22 (allegedly) unforgettable games. TecToy are calling it an 'historic moment' "...but what do you think? Is Sega simply cashing in? Or is this great news for Sega fans?".  

Personally, I will probably end up buying one given the chance. I know there's lots of other more affordable alternatives, such as the 'EverDrive', 'Raspberry Pie' and the 'PC' for emulation, but for me you can't beat an original lump of plastic, and that is exactly what this is, with an SD Card bolted on.  

For more information... See below link or watch launch trailer


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Thursday, 27 October 2016

Pinball Dreams Preview - Amstrad CPC



I've finally played it, admittedly only a demo of the first level, but so far things look and play just as good as the Amiga original. This will never replace a real life Pinball experience, but it's bloody good for a computer simulation. The ball moves exactly as you'd expect, and the flippers are highly accurate, you can even give the table a shove. Graphically I've never seen anything like it on the CPC, initially I was convinced it was Plus only, but the programmers have outdone themselves with this one. 

Time will tell how good this game translates to the CPC, but so far, on current form, this could go down as the best game ever for the CPC!





Published on 27 Oct 2016
* October 2016 PREVIEW for Amstrad CPC
* First presented at RetroSevilla 2016

* IMPORTANT! We strongly recommend to play the game on real CPC & monitor!

* Minimum requirements: - 128kb of RAM
- Floppy drive

* Instructions: run"disc


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Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Why we love Star Wars… 

Everything Star Wars is fantastic, from the Millennium Falcon to Storm Troopers, we love it. It's hard to believe that Star Wars has been with us now for nearly forty years. Episodes four, five and six, still impress today, but for me, it was 'The Empire Strikes Back' with its amazing story, light sabre razzmatazz, and Jedi powered party tricks, that forced me into a sedentary, Jabba-like state. The games didn't help me either, as I've played nearly every Star Wars game ever released, and yet somehow lived to tell the tale.

Naturally, I've not been able to list every game, but special mention must go out to 'Shadows of the Empire' 'Force commander' 'Knights of the Old Republic' and 'BattleFront'. Without further ado, below are the games that stood out from the crowd?

Star Wars, Arcade, Atari Corp, 1982

It's Star Wars! A no-brain shooter, but feels just like being in the movie. It's pretty basic stuff, with smooth simple controls, authentic looks, and sounds, but over way too quickly. 

Why we love it? 

It's great because you pilot an X-Wing in space, throughout differing environments, but more importantly, you take control and centre stage in the Death Star trench run. No other game has ever come this close to recreating the thrill and accuracy of the movie.

Star Wars: Tie Fighter, LucasArts, 1994

This was officially the first game where you got to experience playing on the side of the Galactic Empire. You played Maarek Stele, out to destroy the rebels and ultimately explore the dark side. The graphics have dated badly by today's standards, but for a while, this action-packed shooter was the only game that allowed us to pilot a Tie Fighter and make our evil space fantasies a reality.

Why we love it?

Tie Fighter replicated the deep space battles and exhilarating action of the movies. The game successfully captured the vastness of space, creating an illusion of endless possibilities. This one for me immortalised the franchise amongst PC gamers and still remains a firm favourite today.

Star Wars Rogue Squadron 2: Rogue Leader, LucasArts, 2001

Very few games have matched or even come close to the diversity and core mechanics of Rogue Squadron 2. From AT-ATs to the Millenium Falcon, this was the game that allowed us to pilot all those lovely iconic lumps of plastic, we pretended to fly around in as kids.

Why we love it?

From the iconic intro to the magnificent orchestra, this was the first Star Wars game to fuse gaming and movie into one. It truly felt like another level and a new age in Star Wars video games. Like with the original 1983 arcade effort, you piloted an X-Wing on a mission to destroy the Death Star to the sounds of R2D2's beeps.
   
Super Star Wars, SNES, JVC, 1994

Star Wars thrills hit the SNES in 1994, what looked like an average shooter, turned out to be one of the Super Nintendo's finest hours. The Empire Strikes back and return of the Jedi followed, but never quite reached the heights of this sublime original. 

Why we love it? 

At the time it was considered the best game of Star Wars we'd seen on a 16-bit console. We were stunned by the graphics and cinematic sequences! JVC gave us a great platform experience, but cleverly revived the bygone vector thrills of the arcade original, now in 3D and with superior gameplay. 

Star Wars: X-Wing, PC, 1993

Pilot your very own Rebel Alliance X-Wing, Y-Wing or A-Wing into raging battles against the evil Empire. Smash your way through Star Destroyers, villainy and all types of scum, in this superb, fully realised 3D Star Wars universe.  

Why we love it? 

You could practically go anywhere, pick a fight with anyone and give your wingmen orders. The music was spot on as well, especially with the 1998 re-release, that featured CD-quality audio. 

Star Wars: Racer Arcade, released 2000

Developed by AM5 and Lucas Arts and released by Sega. The game is completely based on the pod racing section from Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. 

Why we love it?

Helped the world go mental for Star Wars. Shared a similar concept to Wipeout and F-Zero, controls were amazing, it featured authentic music, fast racing and looked like the movie. It was ported to many home systems, with favourable reviews. 

Star Wars: Dark forces, PC, 1995 

Dark Forces introduce us to Kyle Katarn, a soldier of fortune, working for the Rebel Alliance. You must creep through sewers, leap from tall structures and search your way to victory. Worth checking out if you’re looking for a good FPS  

Why we love it?

It was banned in Germany! Improves on Doom, with multiple floors, ability to look up and down, jump and crouch, and tread water. Kyle Katarn also screams "Uuuuarrrgggghhhh!" If you fall or leap from a high structure. We also see the emergence of the ‘Dark Troopers’, giant mechanised machines that you have to battle throughout. 


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How to play retro games... TODAY

One lump or two

Nothing beats the feel of real retro plastic - car boots, charity shops, and eBay should be your first port of call, but there are many other ways to get your hands on older kit, including Facebook groups and other social media platforms where you can buy retro kit directly. 

However, if it’s simplicity you seek, there are now many retro games consoles that should satisfy your needs. 

Below are the consoles that Classic Replay recommends: 

Eagle Box - Retro Games console with Gamepad

The Eagle Box, an Android Retro Games Console, will satisfy all of your retro gaming needs with it's ability to play all of your favourite childhood computers and consoles such as PS1, MAME, Dreamcast, N64, NeoGeo, Atari, NES, SNES, Gameboy, Gameboy Colour, Gameboy Advance, SEGA Master System, SEGA Mega Drive, CPS1, CPS2, Amiga, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and many more on your TV!

Perfect for adults, children and your living room.

Key Features
  • Capable of playing: PS1, MAME, Dreamcast, N64, NeoGeo, Atari, NES, SNES, Gameboy, Gameboy Colour, Gameboy Advance, SEGA Master System, SEGA Mega Drive, CPS1, CPS2, Amiga, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and much more!
  • Key remapping function allows you to use the original game controls
  • Save your game progress (multiple times) and load from your preferred choice
  • 5GB Internal Memory will hold HUNDREDS of games!
  • Memory card slot to expand your game library further!
  • Supports up to HD 1080P
  • Not only is this a super compact home console, it also doubles as a TV Box! Beat your high score on Crazy Taxi, put your feet up and watch your favourite TV show on Netflix using the Eagle Box. 

Classic Replay has no direct association with any of these products and therefore does not list any websites. However, content to ensure details are up-to-date have been taken from Funstock.co.uk

Why do we like it? 

It’s easy to setup and get going. You simply plug in and go, no waiting around. You can use the SD card slot to add your own games and it’s tiny, which means you can take it anywhere. You’ll need to pick up a wireless keyboard if you want to get the most out of it, especially if you want to play all those old adventure games, as the featureless remote you get with it, will cause more pain than entertain. Inside the box, you get the console itself, a game pad, a power adapter, remote control and an AV adapter. We fully recommend you pick up an HDMI cable for high resolution. 

Retron 5 (9 in 1 Retro Gaming Console)

Play thousands of retro video games in 720p HD with this all-in-one 'Retron 5' retro games console. Included retro games cartridge/game slots: Nintendo NES, SNES (Super Nintendo), GameBoy Advance (GBA), SEGA Genesis / SEGA Mega Drive, Nintendo Famicom, Super Famicom, Gameboy Colour and Game Boy! 

EU Model with improved cartridge slots (resolved issue of 'death grip' on older models)

Key Features

  • Plays original NES, SNES, Famicom, Super Famicom, Mega Drive, Genesis, Game Boy, Game Boy Colour and Game Boy Advance cartridges
  • HDMI output (with 720p upscaling!), a USB port for charging of the wireless controller, SD card slot for firmware updates and an AC Adapter to power up the system
  • Improved EU model with improved cartridge slots (no worry of 'death grip')
  • Region free - Will play PAL and NTSC cartridges
  • Comes with a wireless controller which utilises Bluetooth technology, allowing 15 feet of gameplay
  • Use any controller you desire for any system (including Mega Drive, SNES and NES)
  • This new controller will also have a Microswitch Directional Pad instead of a traditional directional pad. Along with 6 face buttons, two shoulder buttons, a start and select button, and 4 LED light indicators to display the player number, there is also a Home button that will serve multiple functions; one is to sync the controller to the console, but to also gain access to the Game User Interface (GUI) at any point during gameplay
  • Save your game at any point during gameplay or let the RetroN 5 autosave your game upon shutdown
  • You can select the aspect ratio between 4:3 to 16:9
  • Optional scanlines filter and a wide range of other graphic filters
  • Speed up or slow down your games to fit your preference
  • Controller Slots: NES, SNES, Mega Drive/Genesis

Why do we like it? 

It comes with some really cool stickers, It works with the original old skool controllers, as the controller that comes with it is pants (Use SNES controller instead). There's HDMI connectivity that allows you to play directly through your spanking brand new LCD TV and it looks great, especially with all the filter and scanline options. But get this, it works with your old Sega Master System power base that probably doesn't work anymore. But it's also great for taking away on business trips, holiday or where there's a potential floor space issue. Playing Game Boy and Game boy Advance with no borders in HD is a fantastic experience, if a little blocky, but it really does work, quite how I'm unsure, but it works. It won't replace your real Megadrive or SNES, but it's great to own if you don't have easy access to those consoles anymore.  


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