Resurrected Entertainment

Archive for the 'Games' category

Windows 98 Game Machine

May 12, 2014

Windows 98I have been wanting to build a Windows 98 retrobox machine for a long time, since running Windows 98 games in a virtual machine with hardware acceleration that works is next to impossible, and although I know of and have downloaded games from services like Steam and gog.com, they don’t solve the problem of how to install other Windows 98 software that I am interested in using. I also enjoy the visual nuances produced by 3DFX chipsets and drivers which are not emulated by either service.

The trick is in selecting the right hardware for maximum compatibility and performance. As a starting point, I have chosen the following pieces of hardware to assemble a basic machine:

  • Asus P4B Motherboard with 512 MB of RAM
  • SoundBlaster 128 PCI
  • Radeon 9600 Pro PCI with 128 MB of VRAM
  • DFE 538-TX PCI Network Card
  • SD Card to IDE Interface Board

The last item may need a bit of explaining. Basically, I don’t want to deal in hard drives anymore; I want a technology which I can use to easily backup and recover software images for some of the older machines I maintain. I also want something a little less noisy and faster than a typical hard drive used the in early 2000-2006 period for Windows 98 installations. After some research, I have ordered a unit or two off of eBay a few weeks ago for just a few dollars. I want to use just one or two to trial the hardware, since I have never used these boards before and I don’t know what their limitations are. I have been using the board now for a few weeks and it seems to be performing nicely. I really enjoy the ability to remove the “drive”, shove it into an SD card reader, add a few files which would have been otherwise tedious to download via the platform’s ancient Firefox installation (I am using the latest for the Window 98SE platform, which is version 2.0.12 I think).

A warning around RAM and Windows 98SE installations. I began this process with 1 GB of RAM and throughout the process of getting my benchmark games up and running and the platform driver installations ironed out, I was plagued by mysterious problems like random crashes, screen freezing, DirectX audio issues, and out of memory errors. The out of memory errors happened less frequently, unfortunately, which made debugging the issue rather difficult, since it appeared that my sound card drivers were the source of the problems and not the onboard memory. In the end, it was due to the amount of memory I had installed on that motherboard several months ago. Once I removed the “extra” 512 MB of RAM, things just started working flawlessly. I have done a bit of research and it seems that certain hardware and software problems within the OS can trigger these issues, but it is still possible to enjoy 1 GB of memory on some installations and OS configurations, even though the operating system may not use it. In general, if you have a Window ME installation available, then use that as it seems to be a more robust Windows 98 era platform.

The games I have tested so far are Deus Ex and System Shock 2; there are issues surrounding the latter within my new installation, which I will get into in a later post.

The Music in id Software’s Quake

March 15, 2014

I had no idea that the music and various sound effects were created by Nine Inch Nails lead singer, Trent Reznor. That’s just a small glimpse into the popularity of id Software and their games at the time. If you don’t want to read the book, one particularly interesting video history of the company is available on-line.

id Software

Day of the Tentacle Quote

June 26, 2013

“Behold, children!” shouted Doctor Fred behind them. “The Chron-O-John!”
“Doc, can’t you just send Bernard?” said Hoagie.
“No,” said Doctor Fred, “you must all go to increase the odds that one of you will make it there alive!”
“Have any people ever been hurt in this thing?” asked Bernard.
“Of course not!” said Doctor Fred dismissively. The three students cheered up. “This is the first time I’ve ever tried it on people!”

Treasure your Console

Console

Ouya Console

There are some people who are collectors, they love to hoard and collect things of all types, and others who git rid of things as soon as they stop using them. There are still others who shoot them on sight when playing Mass Effect 2. Unfortunately for video game consoles, they tend to be traded, given away, or discarded more often than not as soon as the next big thing comes along. The fact is that for many of us, it is simply not practical to hold onto every piece of hardware that crosses your path, even though we may want to hold on to it.

I enjoy playing games on the console hardware, but I also enjoy playing those same games through an emulator because some the console’s quirks can irritate me after a while. I tend to be a pragmatist when it comes to gaming nostalgia; generally speaking, if I don’t use or enjoy the console or the games available for it, then I will get rid of it. The reasons for doing this are almost always centred around clutter; I relish my hobby more if I can find and use the games I enjoy more easily. I almost never throw these systems away, although a friend of mine will attest to an unfortunate incident involving a fully functional Atari ST computer and monitor going into the trash in a moment of weakness, but these incidents are very rare thankfully.

These bits of retro hardware are full of little issues for the modern gamer. They don’t work very well on new televisions, they sometimes emit a musty smell, their hardware eventually deteriorates to the point where certain components need to be replaced, they lack save state functionality, and they often require bulky things like cartridges in order to do something useful. Some of these problems can be addressed: the console hardware can be modified to support new output technologies like component or RCA or VGA, the failing hardware components can be replaced with higher quality modern electronics, new cartridges are often available that use flash or SD Card storage and, of course, they can be cleaned.

However, I am of the opinion that certain pieces of gaming hardware and software are more than just the sum of their parts and are worth hanging onto because they represent something greater, even if they don’t work that well out of the storage box. We are part of a very large body of people in the world who have been brought up with iconic video game characters like Mario and Zelda in their daily lives. Many other elements of video game culture such as the people involved, the companies behind the platforms, the art, music and sound effects have permeated our society over the last five decades. Many of these systems have long and varied histories, most of which are very interesting from a cultural and technological standpoint. They are the reason you are using a smart phone right now, and they are also the reason you television has a web browser. There are numerous books published on video game history and technology which are available through various on-line retailers or perhaps directly through the author’s own web site, if you desire something fun and interesting to read. For those systems you found fun to play, try hanging onto them for a while, your kids may enjoy using them and you may certainly enjoy regaling them with interesting historical tidbits as they develop an appreciation for the devices they use.

Day of the Tentacle Quote

June 24, 2013

maniac-mansion-day-of-the-tentacle-small

“You know what they say, if you want to save the world, you need to push a few old ladies down the stairs.”

The Legend of Grimrock

April 27, 2013

There are few things about a video game which can turn me off. Basically, there are four.

  1. I dislike games that feel gimmicky.
  2. I don’t like games whose sole purpose is to show off some new graphical effect.
  3. I don’t like most sports games.
  4. I don’t like games whose game play is too frustrating.

I am leaning towards that last one for this game, although I am really trying hard to cut the game some slack since I am playing on a laptop keyboard. The game routinely has puzzles or combat situations where dexterity with your fingers is paramount to success. While I do enjoy games with a reasonable amount of finger gymnastics, this game makes it something of a core mechanic. The maneuvers required in a few parts of the game, however, are nothing short of brutal — especially when you want that fabled Sword of Nex. I think I am going to stop playing this game for a while, until I can get a proper keyboard, or at least one with some tactile differences. My laptop keyboard is so polished, I can’t tell when my fingers slide from one key to the next.

Limbo

March 27, 2013

This game was first released on Xbox Live 360 in 2010, but I have been playing it on Windows 7 via Steam for the last few days. The title was the third-highest selling game on the XBLA, generating around $7.5 million in revenue during the first year of its release. The title won several awards from industry groups after its release, and was named as one of the top games for 2010 by several publications.I absolutely love the design of this game. It plays contrasting light and dark scenes perfectly, and the filter effect shaders which are used to apply a film grain look to the game are top notch. The continuous level and puzzle system is simply fantastic as each chapter flows easily into the next. The few enemies in the game are moody and fit in perfectly with the game environment. The controls couldn’t be simpler: arrow keys for movement and jumping + the control key to interact with the environment.

Police Quest 3

January 16, 2013

“Cannot initialize audio hardware”

If you get an error message like the one above in Police Quest 3, or in some other Sierra games, then it may be due to your processor being a little too fast for its own good. On my retro box, the Pentium class processor was executing things a little too quickly, so much so that the game could not initialize the sound hardware properly. The solution was to slow it down by disabling the hardware turbo mode or running software like “PENTSLOW.EXE” which disables advanced processor features and makes the processor run more like an i486.

Baldur’s Gate Mystery

March 15, 2012

This could be just another Internet hoax created by someone with a few skills in Photoshop, but the domain “baldursgate.com” has popped up with a count down timer. If you scan through the source code for the web page there are some clues hidden within. Searching around brought up nothing concrete, including from the company who now owns the rights. Oooh baby, very exciting!

Update: It seems Atari, Wizards of the Coast, and Overhaul games are enhancing this timeless classic. You can bet there will be updates to the Infinity Engine, which I have yet to determine if this is a good thing (I love that engine). But a boost in resolution and definition would be very welcome, especially when our 27″ monitor arrives…

Great site for TG-16 reviews!

November 21, 2011

Check out this site: http://www.turboviews.com/

He does a great job of reviewing titles. The videos are both information and entertaining to watch. This should definitely be parked under your review site of choice for TG-16 / Duo, and Super CD games.