Founded in 2003, Armchair Arcade is the award-winning Website of professional author Bill Loguidice and a team of leading authorities on videogame, computer, and technology history: Dr. Mark Vergeer, Christina Loguidice (author), and Shawn Delahunty (engineer). Their ongoing mission is to explore the complete history of videogames, computers, and technology in an intelligent, thought-provoking manner. Read all about us here. To join Armchair Arcade, use the Contact/Join button above to send us your preferred username. Armchair Arcade is also on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+!
Mark Vergeer's picture

VIC-20 Repair / Transplant Surgery - December 8th 2013


A little while ago I got a second VIC-20 which was in a cosmetically almost mint condition. Sadly the motherboard has a fault where it fails to read the joystick and the keyboard correctly resulting in the controls in games not functioning. The VIC-20 I had works great but cosmetically has seen better days. The label has come off and there has been extensive yellowing of its case. One has a serial number only in the ten thousands while the other machine has a serial number well into the hundred thousand. The cosmetically good looking machine being the oldest of the two and the yellowed machine being the younger system. So the younger system works great but looks sh*t and the oldest system looks great but runs sh*t.

Mark Vergeer's picture

New consoles and Micro transactions in (Full Price) Games

Mark Smile Micro transactions in full priced games with the gameplay being so much of a grind that people are motivated to buy the advancements in the game rather than going to the process of actually playing the games is what kills modern gaming for me. Games that have that mechanic will far less likely get played by me.

Whether or not I buy a new console depends on the publishers getting their act together on the new systems. Full price games like Forza 5 and Gran Turismo 6 (on the PS3) still have microtransactions in them. If the majority of full price games will contain this mechanic, what does that mean for gaming as a whole?

Micro transactions are meant to squeeze even more money out of customers' pockets, they have nothing to do with better gameplay or enhancing the game mechanics. They largely ruin the game experience. And I believe micro transactions are something you don't want to expose kids to as they don't teach you the value of things at all. Kids need to learn to be able to deal with money responsibly and such transactions won't help them - it will most likely confuse quite a few of them. Or does it?

Ad ridden free to play games are fine for some perhaps. The model does provide people with a full game and that's fine for some and also very enjoyable. It's comparable to watching a movie that is hacked to pieces with 15 minutes of commercials thrown in every so often. I'd much rather watch without interruptions and commercials and I think I get a better experience. I choose to do the same for my gaming.

I am of the opinion that if you opt to play those free to play / Micro transaction-containing games you basically support that marketing model and the masses of people choosing to do the same will make the game developers think they have something good there.

I choose not to expose myself to that kind of marketing mechanic or as little as possible as I am human and have a right to be irrational at times. Just give me a full game for a good price that I am able to play when I want - even a couple of years down the line - which with activations and online passes and closed systems needing day 1 updates and games that are basically broken when released today can only be dreamt of.

What are your opinions on the matter?

Mark Vergeer's picture

GameMID Android Handheld - Update on availability - December 7th 2013

Mark Smile The Android handheld I reported on earlier has now also become available for sale on the company's updated website. There's an order now button where you can place an order directly from the manufacturer or request additional information. The manufacturer is located in Hong Kong so it could be that you will have to pay additional import taxes according to your locale. Getting one from a retailer locally would be your best option but if that isn't an option going the direct route may be a good alternative. The unit comes in a sturdy box and is well protected by a specialized air filled sleeve. A charger compatible with your local AC power grid is also provided.

But now the GameMID has also been released to the German market and is sold as the "Phantom" - Expert shops are the go to places to get this device locally in Germany. It may be easier to import from Germany too. Here's a link to a German language review of the console.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Tosh.0 features the TI-99/4a and Alpiner

For those who missed it, the latest Tosh.0 (Tuesday, December, 3, 2013) on Comedy Central featured a photo of him at the end as a kid playing the Texas Instruments TI-99/4a with what looks like Alpiner (I'm assuming because of all the white). I took a quick photo of the TV screen for those interested.

Pretty cool. The end of Tosh.O had him playing Alpiner on his TI-994/a as a kid.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Revealed: The computer, videogame, and handheld platforms covered in the upcoming Vintage Game Consoles book!

Vintage Game ConsolesVintage Game ConsolesAlthough we're still a few months away - February or March 2014 - from the worldwide release of Vintage Game Consoles in full color paperback and ebook formats (Amazon pre-order), our publisher's Website, Focal Press, has posted the Table of Contents. This is a big milestone because it officially publicly reveals the 20 computer, videogame, and handheld platforms we identified as most significant. As with the previous book in the series, Vintage Games, which primarily covered 35 of the most influential games (and those they influenced) of all time, from our industry's beginnings right up to the book's publication, Vintage Game Consoles does the same for the platforms they're actually played on. The only constraints we placed on our choices were that the platforms had to no longer be sold commercially (eliminating all systems released from the start of the Nintendo DS and Xbox 360 eras and beyond) so the complete story could be told (with the obvious exception being PC Windows Computers) and that we kept the focus on primarily North America (our particular expertise, though obviously we discuss all regions throughout the course of the book). This still led to some tough decisions (like not covering platforms that featured similar games to another slightly more popular platform already in the book), but I think you'll find the list fair. If not, let us know, though of course I'd love you to reserve final judgment until you actually have the book in your hands.

Here's the Table of Contents (note, there is also an extensive Forward and Preface, and each Generation sets the scene for that particular section of the book--oh, and there are 400 images as well!):

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Discounts on Homebrew Videogames at Good Deal Games

Our friends over at Good Deal Games have a big discount on select homebrews in the Homebrew Heaven section of their Website. The deals, which are good until December 15, 2013, and in limited supply, include the following:

Mark Vergeer's picture

SV-328 Microcomputer - pickup / lot


I got myself a new system (SV-328) in a pretty complete lot. Mind you I was pretty tired when I filmed this so bare with me. Check out what I got.

Spectravideo, or SVI, founded in 1981 as "SpectraVision" by Harry Fox was a US based firm. SVI originally made video games for the VIC-20 and Atari 2600 consoles. They also made Atari compatible joysticks and many C64s actually were completed with a set of Spectravideo joysticks. Some of the later computers were MSX-compliant and some even IBM PC compatible. SVI folded in 1988.

The SV-328 is an 8-bit home computer introduced by Spectravideo in June 1983. It was the business-targeted model, sporting a full-travel keyboard with numeric keypad. Making it look like a professional machine that could compete with the big professional systems out there. It has 80 kB RAM (64 kB available for software & 16 kB video memory). Other than the keyboard and RAM, this machine was identical to its predecessor, the SV-318.
The SV-328 is the design on which the later MSX standard was based. Spectravideo's MSX-compliant successor to the 328, the SV-728, looks almost identical, the only immediately noticeable differences being a larger cartridge slot in the central position (to fit MSX standard cartridges), lighter shaded keyboard and the MSX labels.

Mark Vergeer's picture

Xbox One in Europe - 50hz issue / Suffers from 50Hz TV integration

XboxoneXbox OneCustomers in European countries lucky enough to be able to use the Xbox One have been complaining about stuttering images when connecting a tuner through the HMDI through function. Since the dawn of time, European TV broadcasts have used 50hz and the Xbox One can only output 60Hz. This causes unwanted issues. With the switch to HD one would think that 50Hz has gone away, but for European TV - even in Full HD - it is still there.

Now, for years, PAL TV sets have been able to display both 50Hz and 60Hz, and most modern games offer PAL60, but because the Xbox One can't do 50Hz, passed through 50Hz images stutter because of incomplete frame rate conversions.

Seems a little oversight of the boys over at Microsoft. So the media centre thing seems to be something that doesn't cause a lot of joy right now. The issue creeps up most with panning and horizontal movements. Sports have been commented on as being unwatchable. Let's hope this can be fixed with a firmware or software update.

Bill Loguidice's picture

First Impressions of Microsoft's Xbox One

My Xbox One (2014)My Xbox One (2014)With the Xbox One's release this past Friday, November 22, we have the final piece to the next gen console puzzle. Whether you consider the Wii U next gen or not, or that neither the PS4 or Xbox One can truly be considered next gen in the face of a good PC, the fact remains that the Xbox One represented the last major new system we were waiting on for the forseeable future. Certainly the Steam Box will get some buzz once that's released, but price and compatibilty may represent hurdles to the type of adoption both the Xbox One and PS4 have thus far received. Plus, there's the argument - which I tend to agree with - that you don't necessarily gain any benefit investing in a Steam Box over a good PC. Final judgment will be reserved though once Valve's Steam Box initiative gets fully underway.

Naturally, both the PS4 and Xbox One launches can be considered a success, with each selling over 1 million units in the first 24 hours. The Xbox One needed 10 or 11 more countries with which to reach that number, but it was also priced $100 more, and faced similar supply constraints (meaning its arguable both could have sold more if stock was there). Like the PS4 and Wii U before it, a small percentage of Xbox One launch consoles were affected by technical issues, but, luckily, overall, all three seem to be solid hardware out of the gate. That does nothing to soothe those who actually have a unit with issues, but it seems that, based on percentages, all three major new consoles had reasonably smooth launches. To wrap up the sales commentary, if sales don't pick up for the Wii U this holiday and beyond, it's certainly reasonable to think that both PS4 and Xbox One will surpass total Wii U sales by or before June 2014 (as some analysts have suggested), which would also put to rest the idea that the industry's new norm is greatly reduced sales, i.e., the Wii U's sales issues are its own. No matter what, console gaming is still small change compared to smartphones and tablets, but we at least have the potential of still being a very vocal percentage of the technology ecosystem if sales for both the PS4 and Xbox One maintain positive momentum into 2014.

Now, with all that out of the way, I'll provide my impressions of the Xbox One. Since my wife and I are writing a book on the Xbox One, My Xbox One, follow-up to My Xbox, which covered the 360, we needed our usual two consoles: one to play with, and one to keep pristine so we could methodically document the goings on. For now, I just opened up the one to play with.

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Floppy Days Vintage Computing Podcast Episode 8 - TRS-80, book mentions, and an upcoming interview!

Episode 8 of Randy Kindig's Floppy Days Vintage Computing Podcast, entitled, The TRS-80 Model I (Part I), gives another shout-out to two of the upcoming books I've co-authored, CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy's Underdog Computer and Vintage Game Consoles: An Inside Look at Apple, Atari, Commodore, Nintendo, and the Greatest Gaming Platforms of All Time. Though Kindig messed up our names again (they're not easy--we've since given him a pronunciation guide), his support is of course still much appreciated. Kindig will also be receiving review copies of both books for future episodes of his podcast, plus he will be interviewing Boisy and me on an upcoming podcast (we want to wait for him to get a copy of the book). One other correction, the CoCo book should be out by the end of December, not November! Check out the episode here, which is part one of a two part interview with the authors of a popular TRS-80 book, as well as additional info on the computer itself. The TRS-80 was the first major personal computer Tandy did before the Color Computer (CoCo), and was part of the original 1977 trinity, which also included the Apple II and Commodore PET.

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