While we had a previous poll and some thoughts and speculation on the next Xbox here at Armchair Arcade (among many other thoughts from staff and other commenters), it's now time to discuss the reality from today's #XboxReveal, with Microsoft the last of the three to play its next generation hand. As you no doubt already know, Nintendo's Wii U is struggling mightily, while Sony's PS4 has a lot of positive buzz so far and will be released around the same time as the new Xbox (Xbox One). With all that said, let's take a look at what was just unveiled.
Hot on the heels of Amiga Forever Essentials for Android, Cloanto has just released the latest "2013" versions of their popular and easy-to-use Amiga Forever and C64 Forever emulators. This is great news for old and new fans of the greatest Commodore platforms, including all versions of the Amiga series (inclusive of the CDTV and CD32), and most of the 8-bit line, including PET, VIC 20, C-64/128, and C-16/Plus4. Around here, it's among our absolute favorite emulation packages and used as pack-ins with various devices, including the MCC, so you know it has to be great.
The full press release details are below, along with all the links to the various packages available:
In anticipation of our upcoming book for CRC Press/Taylor & Francis Group, CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy’s Underdog Computer, my co-author, Boisy Pitre, has started a new series of blog posts that will (very slowly) lift the veil on some interesting stuff that we discovered during the course of our research. He's doing it in the form of series of puzzles. You can read the first posting, or clue, to the first mystery, here. Enjoy!
On Tuesday, May 21, we'll have the next Xbox announcement. Nintendo has obviously already played their hand with the Wii U, an intriguing, but possibly failed gamble on a mix of current gen technology with tablet paradigms, and Sony has shown much of what they'll be offering with the PS4, a "social" next gen console that emphasizes its access speed for everything from updates to getting to play games/demos without much, if any, delay. Interestingly, Microsoft was first out of the gate this current generation, but will be last to make their announcement thanks to positive momentum in the past few years (everywhere except Japan, of course).
In any case, the rumor mill has been quite active, obviously, with the usual mix of thoughtful and not-so-thoughtful claims. You can read all about those elsewhere, but here are my thoughts on what is and isn't likely:
For all the Tandy/Radio Shack Color Computer (CoCo) fans out there, don't forget that this coming weekend is The 22nd Annual "Last" Chicago CoCoFEST! You can get more info on the festivities here. It's been a good year for the CoCo and it's only going to get better, so this event will definitely be worth attending for those who can.
Paul, aka @prode81 on Twitter, has made available one of the first Pebble watch apps, a nifty Web browser-based watch face generator. The link is here, and it's a simple, but great way to experiment with your own Pebble watch without knowing a lick of programming. Check the image below to see how the Armchair Arcade watch face turned out, plus you can scan the QR code with your phone to put it on your own Pebble. If you like Paul's work, don't forget to donate!
Our friends over at Cloanto have just released Amiga Forever Essentials for Android. It's a tremendous package on the PC and we'll definitely be checking out this interesting new Android version. The press release:
Although we've been following the developments of Hyperkin's upcoming RETRON 4 closely, Slashdot reports that the company has surprised everyone by going straight to the RETRON 5. Hyperkin has had a spotty history at best of promising the moon and stars with their modern consoles that play classic cartridges, i.e., often falling down on compatibility and emulation, but it looks like they're determined to finally nail it, publicly stating they want 100% compatibility. The RETRON 5 can play the actual cartridges for nine systems, with transparent NTSC and PAL support: Famicom, NES, SNES, Super Famicom, Genesis, Mega Drive, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, and the Game Boy. Hyperkin hasn't ruled out support for other platforms, pending parts, and it's certainly easy enough to imagine scenarios where systems like the Sega Master System and Game Gear would work just as well with the right adapters. In any case, even if it's just those nine systems/four system families, that's still a mighty versatile single console, particularly since you can update the firmware.
In terms of controls, the system will come with two nice looking six button bluetooth controllers (in fact, the d-pad looks a lot like the superb control found on SNK's Neo Geo Pocket Color), which can be charged with the console's USB port, but there are also six controller ports to use any combination of classic controllers in any combination of system modes, meaning two NES, two SNES, and two Genesis controller ports, and the ability to say, use an SNES controller for Genesis or NES games, as just one example (this includes full user configurable button remapping in all modes). Video is upscaled 720p over HDMI (composite audio/video is also supported for older televisions), with all kinds of options to support different aspect ratios and other video modes as the user desires, plus Hyperkin has claimed that all kinds of technological wizardry is in place to make these standard definition systems look and sound the way they're supposed to on modern high definition displays. Finally, of the remaining key features among a laundry list of them, the console will also allow users to create save states, support auto-save for when the system is suddenly turned off, offer a "cheat menu" (built-in Game Genie/Action Replay support?), and also offer "Manual & Passive Overclocking," which means both slowdown and fast-forward at any time (perfect for those overly chatty text-bubble-based classic games).
Obviously, all of that is a lot to promise, particularly at a sub-$100 price point, but we'll certainly be waiting anxiously for the official release after June to put this potential flying unicorn through its paces. Check out the video presentation for the RETRON 5 at the Midwest Gaming Classic below:
Check out parts 3 and 4 of the Portuguese translation of our Spacewar! (1962) bonus chapter from our 2009 book, Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time. Don't forget that Vintage Games is available in its original English language version at Amazon and other fine retailers in both print and ebook variations, as well as in an Italian language version, found here. As a reminder, Matt Barton and I are also hard at work on a new entry in the Vintage Games series focused on the great platforms that powered those great games, Vintage Game Consoles: An Inside Look at Apple, Atari, Commodore, Nintendo, and the Greatest Gaming Platforms of All Time, for release later this year. Enjoy!
Occasionally, I like to go off topic here at Armchair Arcade and use this valuable platform to discuss other subjects. In this case, I'd like to discuss a video a Facebook friend of mine posted, or, more correctly, reshared, which you can see here, and which I've also embedded at the end of this blog post. It's a popular video on Facebook (and apparently, elsewhere), with close to 80,000 likes, 466,000 shares, and 465 comments as I write this. The titles is, "This video will CHANGE your life." A lofty and tantalizing statement, certainly, but the question is, will it?