In the comments of my last Raspberry Pi post, reader Ben politely pointed out “you’re doing it wrong.” And I was. Along with a couple of other helpful suggestions, Ben also pointed me toward PiMame, which comes as a precompiled image — simply download, extract, boot, and play. Now that the raspberry Pi is out of the box and connected, I only had two goals:
01. Download/extract/configure PiMame
02. Play games.
Would this one work better than my first go ’round with RetroPie? Read on!
Using WinSCP I connected to the Pi over my network and copied the Mario Bros ROM for MAME over into the ROMs directory. I rebooted the Pi, selected MAME, and there was Mario Bros. I chose that, and got this:
Honest to goodness, that’s all there was to it. It even recognized my USB gamepad with no additional configuration. The biggest initial problem I had to overcome was the fact that there was no sound coming out of my television. Unmuting my television fixed that.
For the most part I’d say I’m pleased with PiMame. The sound is not 100% accurate but it’s certainly playable. I thought the samples sounded low in Shinobi and some of the explosions were missing in Galaga, but the thing played just fine. PiMame comes with a ton of other emulators so I’ll be experimenting with those as well.
My next Raspberry Pi project will be a hardware one, not a software one. I detest the case that came with this thing and so I’ve had my eye out for something else to use, even if it’s temporary. I had Raspberry Pi on the brain the other day at Big Lots and ran across this.
It’s been a few weeks (apparently) since I announced my new podcast episodes here.
Episode 127 is about BASIC programming. This one has old stories about programming in BASIC, a few new stories about Visual Basic, and some new forks of the BASIC programming language that are still being updated.
Episode 128 is (fittingly) about the Commodore 128. Packed in and around stories about the C128 are a couple of stories about S.A.M., the old voice synthesizer for the Commodore.
Episode 129 is all about the collection of arcade games I owned while I lived in El Reno, Oklahoma. The six machines I owned back then were Elevator Action, Mat Mania, Shinobi, Street Fighter II – Championship Edition, Power Instinct 2, and Star Wars.
Here’s the second post that got gummed up in the system.
Episode 125 of You Don’t Know Flack is all about the video game crash of 1983. “It was a dark and stormy night…” or was it really? In this episode I talk all about the causes of the video game crash of 1983, and why I missed it. From the voice mail box I answer the question, “what’s the worst arcade conversion I’ve ever seen?”
A block and a half beyond the Freemont Experience in downtown Las Vegas sits Insert Coin(s), a “Videolounge Gamebar” at 512 Fremont St. I haven’t been to every big retro arcade across the country, but I hit a lot of them while working on my book Invading Spaces and had hoped to hit Insert Coin(s) the last time I was in Vegas. Unfortunately we had the kids with us that time, which meant we ended up visiting the family-friendly Pinball Hall of Fame over the more adult-oriented Insert Coin(s). This time around, no kids meant I was able to finally swing by the arcade.
Although the walk to Insert Coin(s) from the Freemont Street Experience is a short one, those two blocks make a difference. Perhaps at other times the sidewalk is more well it and filled with revelers; at 9:45pm on a Friday night with the bright lights and crowds to our backs it was dark and kind of scary.
Outside the barcade we spoke briefly with the bouncer who informed us that after 10pm Insert Coin(s) has a cover charge — $5 for locals and $10 for out-of-towners. We arrived roughly fifteen minutes before the club started charging a cover, which was a good thing as I had three people in tow who were only there to appease my curiosity, none of whom would have dropped $10 to do so.
In stark contrast to the other retro arcades I’ve visited, including the 1984 Arcade in Missouri, the Arkadia Retrocade in Arkansas, and FunSpot in New Hampshire, Insert Coin(s) is definitely a playground for the 21 and over crowd. Those other arcades are well-lit places, full of color and children. Insert Coin(s) on the other hand is a throwback to the “darker” (and I mean that literally, not figuratively) arcades of the past. Other than the glowing monitors, marquees and televisions, the main source of light in the room comes from the room’s centerpiece, a glowing bar that changes color.
The right-hand side of the room is filled with over-sized vinyl booths that sit behind home gaming consoles hooked to flat screen televisions. According to the arcade’s website, patrons with a bar tab of $25 or more get to play those systems for free. The rear of the bar housed a DJ setup. There wasn’t a DJ there during our visit, but that didn’t stop a couple of drunk girls from dancing with one another.
The real draw for me were the sixty arcade games lined up down the left hand side of the room. The lineup of games was exactly what I was both expecting and hoping to see, with machines ranging from the classics of the early 80s to the hottest fighting games from the late 90s. Along with all the usual classics one would hope to find, a couple of less-common machines caught my eye including Star Wars Trilogy, Tapper, and 720. Other than 720, it looked to me like all the machines were turned on and had good, working monitors. (I can tell you from personal experience that 720 machines are a pain in the ass to own.)
Insert Coin(s) offers retro gamers a different side of the token to consider. With their resident DJs and omnipresent glowing bar, there’s more to Insert Coin(s) than just a large selection of classic games. And, of yeah, they have a large selection of classic games! A different business model than the other retro arcades I’ve visited results in a different experience. Although I was only able to spend a short amount of time in the arcade, I’ll be adding Insert Coin(s) on to my “must stop” list of Vegas hot spots. A quarter is bound to last me a lot longer in Donkey Kong than it will in a slot machine!
This morning on Facebook one of my friends forwarded me the link to a news story on MSN.com. The story is about video games as financial investments, and references the current auction of an Air Raid cartridge which is currently selling for $20,000. I wrote a bit about the last Air Raid cart found, which sold for $36k. That’s not really the story here.
When I clicked on the link, I saw something familiar — a picture of my old game room!
Here is a link to the article. It’s always surprising to see a picture of the inside of your house on the internet, especially when the picture is almost 10 years old.
In 2004, an AP reporter interviewed me in regards to a story about retro games making a comeback. After interviewing me over the phone, the AP sent a photographer out to the house and shot some pictures. That led to this story, which again, ran in 2004. The picture MSN used in this morning’s article was recycled from that 2004 photo shoot.
It’s a little hard to tell because of the angle, and things are definitely messier in this shot, but here are the same shelves about a year later. As you can see I ended up painting the shelves black. The walls remained green.
This weekend, Morgan and I attended a birthday party at Celebration Station which, if you’ve not been or don’t have one near you, is essentially a Chuck E. Cheese clone. They have pizza, arcade games, lots of outdoor activities, and animatronic … dogs.
(Not my video.)
Below are a few pictures I snapped at the party.
Down the left-hand side of the arcade sat all the racing games, lined up and ready to go.
And here are some of the shooting games.
Upstairs, tucked away in the corner, were three pinball machines. The middle one was turned off, but I did play the other two. Good times. I think that may have been my first time on that WWF table. Definitely old school, “brother”. Tales from the Crypt is a good but not great table. It’s too bad the Addams Family machine is out of order. Maybe next time.
Here is a few of the first floor, taken from the second. Despite how this picture makes it look, the game mix downstairs is surprisingly close to being split 50/50 between actual arcade games and ticket dispensers.
Eventually the party moved outside. Did I mention it was 105 degrees on Saturday? Morgan said it wasn’t too hot out there on the water bumper boats. I can tell you, it was pretty hot standing on the sidelines, watching the bumper boats.
After the boats, Morgan spun a few laps on the go-karts before I called a heat mercy rule and split. It’s amazing how much bribery one can get out of a $2 snowcone.
Also, all you Apple haters can suck it. The iPhone 4S takes amazing pictures when you forget to bring your DSLR camera …
This weekend marked the 9th annual Oklahoma Video Game Expo (OVGE) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I attended the first show in 2003 as a spectator, but have participated as a presenter (almost) every year since then.
Along for the ride this year were my friends Robb and Steve, who I previously mentioned flew in from Colorado and New York (respectively) to attend the show. Robb Sherwin is, among other things, the author of the award winning interactive fiction game Cryptozookeeper. Steve and Robb have known each other since the BBS days.
Photo by Brandon Staggs
Since our local NBA team (the Oklahoma City Thunder) are currently in the NBA Finals, I decided to go with a basketball theme this year.
Due to a slight table misconfiguration I only ended up with one table instead of two this year, but we made it work by just cramming everything together and leaving a few things under the table. From left to right we had my NES playing Double Dribble, my (blue development) PlayStation running NBA Showtime, and my Commodore 64 running a couple of different games, including One on One and Street Sports Basketball. I wouldn’t say I had the most popular table at the convention, but lots of sports fans stopped by to play a few quick games of basketball. At the table I also had a playlist of basketball-related songs and sports anthems going throughout the day, playing songs like “Basketball Jones,” “We Will Rock You,” and of course the parody song “Beard Like Harden.” I apologize to the people across the aisle from me who got bombarded with this music all day long.
Along with all the console and computer games available to buy and play, there were also several pinball machines and arcade games set up to play at the show. These are machines that are brought in by private owners and set up for people to play for free all day long. They’re a great hit every year and really add to the show.
Besides games, there were a lot of other game-related items on display and up for sale, including these animation cells over at Drew Stone’s table. I probably should have bought one of these when I had the chance.
Photo by Earl Green
You may notice that I’ve had to borrow a few photos from my friends Brandon and Earl for this post. That’s because, before I knew it, the show was winding down. I only got out from behind my table a few times, and when I got home I found I had only taken a dozen or so photographs … so I went to Facebook and borrowed a few from other people. I added the ones I took to my photo album of the show along with theirs, renaming them to give them proper credit.
Photo by Earl Green
Photo by Earl Green
Although OVGE is pretty console gaming-centric, Ed Martin brought another giant stack of retro Apple computer hardware, along with an impressive spread of classic boxed text adventures.
Several local groups and websites were on hand this year, including Nintendo Okie who did a live podcast from the show. They did a decent job of capturing some of the in-show action going on throughout the day.
Brandon Staggs also uploaded this video of OVGE 2012 to YouTube. He did a great job of capturing all of the booths there. You can catch my basketball-themed table just after the 2:30 mark.
Thanks to everybody who came out to OVGE this year and everyone who stopped by and said hey. Next year will be the 10th anniversary of OVGE, and I know people are already talking about what they will be bringing to next year’s show. I know I am!
The 9th Annual (wow!) Oklahoma Video Game Expo (OVGE) will take place this Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As always, I and some friends will have a table set up and once again the entire hall will be filled with people buying, selling, and playing video games.
At my table this year, I will be joined by two friends: award-winning Interactive Fiction author Robb “Ice Cream Jonsey” Sherwin, and the creator of the infamous remote controlled phone video, Steve “Aardvark” Davis. Additionally, I will be sharing a bit of table space with Charles “Ubikuberalles” Pearson, who will be showing off some of his game-related creations.
To attend this show, Sherwin is flying in from Denver, Colorado; Davis, from New York; and Pearson, from Albuquerque, New Mexico. If you enjoy old video games and live closer to Tulsa, Oklahoma than any of those guys, you should make an attempt to be there.
Anyone who hasn’t been to one or is on the fence about attending can check out my photo albums. I have pictures of the shows going back to the first year (2003).
Here’s a picture of my table from last year, where Sherwin, my friend Jeff, and I ran a table dedicated to text adventures. At the show we had text adventures running on a Commodore 64, an Apple II, an Amiga, a DOS machine, an ancient portable TRS-80, and even an iPad.
Speaking of my buddy Jeff, he has since moved out of state and won’t be able to attend this year’s show. While Jeff tries to stay behind the scenes, he is the one that keeps me organized and makes stuff happen. For the past five years, Jeff has been the one who helped me watch my table when I had to run to the bathroom or free me up when I was mingling with visitors, who helped me set up and break down my displays, and keep things running smoothly. Jeff has been an integral part of my displays for the past five years, and will sorely be missed. I will be pouring out a bottle of Croyn Royal Black on the ground in honor of his absence. (I would never actually do that; Jeff would kill me for wasting good Crown like that!)
Episode 114 of You Don’t Know Flack is all about Arcade Auctions. In this episode I talk about my experiences of buying arcade games at auctions. I share some tips and tricks of the trade, including what to bring, what to look for, and what to expect. I have been attending arcade auctions for almost 20 years, and have purchased around 70 arcade games from auctions during that time.
At You Don’t Know Flack you can download the podcast in mp3 format, or stream it directly from the site. There’s an RSS feed available, if you track your updates that way, and the podcast is also available through iTunes.
If you’re old school, I will come to your house, stand outside your window, and blast the latest episodes through my boombox.