...Well almost a week. Was in Eindhoven for work. I'm a member of a network of European cities called Smart Cities which is focussed on joint learning and partner matching for EU funded projects.
Saw the original Philips factory - pity it was closed but it will be opening as a museum soon I'm told.
Playing console shmups in the PAL region can be hit or miss - even if we do get some releases that the US doesn't, we still miss out on a lot of Japanese releases. Nowadays PAL ports aren't an issue, and the 360 is proving to be an excellent home for modern day titles, but during the 32bit era, which was a bright spot in the history of shmups, PAL releases were thin on the ground.
I have at long last got around to upgrading the 2nd house TV which is the main "downstairs gaming TV". A nice 32" Sony LCD. Have connected the Wii up via component cable and it looks splendid. Because the screen isn't too big the Wii's shortcomings aren't an issue; it upscales DVDs nicely too - just tested disc 1 of LOTR - Fellowship and the results are very nice.
Chessmaster II - PS1
Virtual Kasparov - PS1
Checkmate - PS1
Virtual Chess 64 - N64
Chessmaster - PS2
Wii Chess - Wii
CXG Computachess - dedicated
Mephisto Atlanta - dedicated
Videomaster Star Chess - dedicated
In 1968, international chess master, computer programmer and author David Levy made a bet that he would not lose a chess match to a computer program within 10 years. In 1978 he collected his winnings of £1,250. A tidy sum - but he didn't make another bet. Maybe Mr Levy saw the writing on the wall for chess as the ultimate challenge to computer programmers at the time. Now in 2011, chess games can be bought at an impulse purchase price that will trounce all but those at the very top of the chess playing fraternity.
While the old 7800 is connected up I may as well cover the other games I have, including a homebrew effort.
The Atari 7800 is a much maligned console. Released far too late to compete with the mighty NES so it had no chance. This wasn't necessarily because of hardware limitations - but more because of the games released with it which were in the main ports of 80's arcade games which sadly just didn't cut it in the era of Super Mario Bros. and Legend of Zelda.
It actually did OK for a short while but long term the lack of contemporary games finished it off. For collectors its a very interesting console though because of the small and collectable official library, its ability to play 2600 games, and a thriving homebrew scene. I'm only going to talk about official 7800 releases here - specifically my favourites:
I've been getting into my Dreamcast again of late. I came across copies of Quake III Arena and Unreal Tournament for next to nothing so they were bought on an impulse but of course with retro gaming this only starts something that usually ends up with more money being spent.
#26-#31 Tetris Box set
Tetris & Dr. Mario (SNES)
Tetris Plus (Saturn)
The New Tetris (N64)
The Next Tetris (Dreamcast)
Tetris Worlds (PS2, Gamecube)
Tetris Party + Tetris Party Deluxe (Wii)
Bobby Fischer was one of the greatest chess players ever - he became world champion in 1972 and could have been champion longer had he been of a more conservative disposition. Fischer was an American and the fact that he became world chess champion is like a beautiful flower growing up through cracks in a pavement. Chess champions tend to come from Russia or the old soviet block countries where chess players are discovered and developed within a system that is part of society - their champions are the inevitable outcome of that system. Fischer came from no such system - he was a maverick genius who came out of nowhere.
Its superbowl night later on and many in the UK will be watching. This weekend also sees the start of the Rugby 6 Nations : England, Scotland, Wales, France, Ireland and Italy compete for Northern Hemisphere championship.
Jonah Lomu - New Zealand
#25 Caravan Shooting Collection (SNES)
Caravanning - this is a pastime in the UK that gets a lot of flak. People towing mobile homes behind their cars means they have a reduced max speed limit and given the slow speed and lack of visibility to the driver behind, is a source of some ire on UK roads. Perhaps some UK readers think this is a game produced to relieve the stress of encountering a caravan on the roads by allowing players to blast them off the road - sadly that is not the case.
Let me take you to Japan in the mid-80s when the Famicom/NES ruled the video-game world. At this time, Hudsonsoft were releasing some 2D shmups for the NES and part of the marketing effort was some sort of road show where temporary game-fests were set up around the country and video game competitions were ran with the highest score on the latest Hudson shmup for the NES being the aim. This seemed to be quite a phenomenon in Japan and ran for several years. It gave birth to the idea of caravan modes in some shmups - which is a quick 2 or 5 minute score attack mode which is a featured mode of lots of shmups released in later years.