Saturday, 28 May 2016

Name The Game - ZX Spectrum Part Three

Yet another ZX Spectrum Screenshot Quiz, the third to be exact. There are 20 more screenshots of games I played back in the day, some quite famous and some not so much, so about as difficult as previous quiz I reckon.

So let's see how you do. Either give your answers in the comments here or on the Retro Rekall Page or the Retro Rekall Group. Don't worry, if you need adding I'll sort it. I'm going to post up just the screenshots too on Facebook if that makes answering easier. So once again, best of luck :)

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Cybercon III - My Faourite Amiga 500 Game

Cybercon III, U.S. Gold Ltd (1991)

A gem of a game in my opinion, nine video game magazines giving review scores between 86 and 93 percent agreed with me, but a few others disagreed saying it was too complicated and too slow.

But I found the speed suited the plot and after a bit of practice those so called complicated controls became second nature and that's when it really drew me in.

I'd turn off the lights and become immersed in a strange new world of shaded polygons that represented my Power Armours (PA) view of the many geographical features within the Cybercon III defence complex.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Retro Japan Computer Special - MSX Computers + Games

Back in the early eighties when I got my first computer, the ZX Spectrum, I wasn't really aware of computers globally. I knew about Atari, Commodore and Texas Instruments from the US along with most of the popular UK computers but not much else. I did hear about MSX and I knew it was a computer usedby people in Japan. That was as far as my knowledge stretched and it didn't stretch much further over the years. For a long time my knowledge of Japanese hardware was limited to the Sony Playstation, my first console, and, to a lesser extent, Nintendo and Sega consoles mainly because I had an Amiga in the late eighties and a PC in the nineties.

I now know that MSX was not a computer from Japan but a standard for home computer hardware made in Japan which was introduced in 1983 after an ASCII Microsoft executive noticed the success of the VHS standard for VCR's. It was quite popular not just in Japan but also around Europe, South America and The Middle East in countries such as Spain, Brazil, Kuwait, France, South Korea, Russia (previously USSR), The Netherlands and Finland.

Similar to when PC standardised computer hardware was introduced in the US, with manufacturers such as Dell, Olivetti and Gateway, MSX computers were built by a whole host of famous manufacturers including Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba, Casio, Hitachi and Samsung. The standards were further upgraded in 1986 (MSX2), 1988 (MSX2+) and 1990 (MSX Turbo R). Over 5 Million MSX-based computers were sold world wide.


CPU: Z80A @ 3,579 MHz
ROM: 32 KB
RAM: 8 KB min (Usually 64K)
Video Display Processor: Texas Instruments TMS-9918/TMS-9928/TMS-9929
Video RAM: 16 KB (Max res: 256×192 pixels with 16 colors)
Sound chip: General Instrument AY-3-8910 (PSG)
Connector for tape/data recorder.
Centronics interface (for connecting printers and other parallel devices)
One joystick/mouse connector min. (Usually two)
One expansion port min.
Keyboard with at least 70 keys (inc. 5 function keys with 10 programmable functions and 4 arrow keys).

Additional - MSX2 (1986)

ROM: 48 KB
RAM: 64 KB min
Video Display Processor: Yamaha V9938
Video RAM: At least 64kB (usually 128kB)
Sound chip: Yamaha YM2149 (PSG)
Clock chip: Ricoh RP5C01 (or compatible)
Disk Drive: 3.5" Floppy disk drive

There are no shortage of games for MSX computers and many of them do not require you to know any Japanese. In any case if you look hard enough to can find English language versions of many top games too. So here are thirty great games, in alphabetical order, that you can play on MSX computers. If you have a PC you can also play these games using the MSX emulator found here.

Aka Moai No Hiho (The Secret Treasure Of Moai) - Casio 1986

Puzzle platformer where you must reach the stage exit by destroying and climbing over blocks. Some blocks reveal special items which are usually required to reach the exit. You must also climb over and destroy blocks in the right order or you may not be able to reach the exit. Stages get harder and harder and are inter-spaced with bonus stages where you collect diamonds for points.

Aleste (Power Striker) - Compile 1988

Vertical scrolling shoot 'em up with six stages and eight different types of weapon. Collecting the same number over and over again will upgrade the strength of that particular weapon. Ammo is not unlimited so you also need to keep collecting the same type of ammo to ensure it doesn't run out. There are end of stage bosses which need to be destroyed piece by piece. This game also had a very similar sequel released the following year.