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Every game. Chronologically.

Entries in this blog

Brickdown / Shooting Gallery, APF, 1978

Brickdown / Shooting Gallery, APF, 1978 - only NOT     My copy of this cart wouldn't work. Grr. This is a lesson that reminds me I need to test these things as soon as I get them. The seller on ebay had said it worked. I'm thinking he made a mistake, like he did when he said that photocopies of the instructions were included. Grr.   If anyone can lend/rent me theirs, I'll pay shipping both ways, take really good care of it and have it back to you within a day or tw

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Hangman, APF, 1978

Hangman/Tic-Tac-Toe/Doodle, APF, 1978     I'm sure you are all aware by now, that I consider an electronically conducted game of Hangman to be one of the most formative highlights of any child's upbringing. To see a child realize that the simple failure to correctly guess a random word could lead to a virtual yet grisly death . . . well, it's just amazing. I love to see their face light up as they begin to abuse their power. They'll start to punch in guesses like "Z" and "Q"

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Catena, APF 1978

Catena, APF, 1978   Something to notice about the menu screen:     This machine is considered to be a "TV Micro-Computer" by its makers. Well, yeah, all videogame consoles are, technically, "computers", just not what we usually call "computers" anymore, thanks to the great Computer/Console Distinction riots of the early 1980s. But I digress from the chronology . . .   First of all, lets just deal with the title. I originally confused it with the word cant

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Rocket Patrol, APF, 1978

APF MP1000 circa 1978   In case you're wondering APF stands for Al & Phil Freedman, the two brothers who founded the company.   The most excellent page out there on the APF family of expandable consoles:http://www.tcp.com/~lgreenf/apfpage.htm (EDIT in 2021: This page is no longer there. I didn't search for a new one.) (Nelio found it, here it is: http://www.nausicaa.net/~lgreenf/apfpage.htm )   That's got pictures of the carts and the console, but, alas, n

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Tornado Baseball, Bally, 1978

Tornado Baseball, Hockey, Handball, Tennis - Bally Pro Arcade, 1978   These must be popular sports. Let me just point something out here.   Magnavox Odyssey 1972 Baseball Hockey Handball Tennis   Fairchild Channel F 1976 Tennis (built in) Hockey (built in) Baseball (1977)   RCA Studio II 1977 Baseball Tennis / Squash (Handball by another name)   Atari VCS 1978 Home Run (Baseball) Video Olympi

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Red Baron / Panzer Attack 1978

Red Baron / Panzer Attack, Bally Professional Arcade, 1978   Bally's machine continues to thwart me at every turn. I opened a sealed, slightly smooshed copy of Bally game #2003, Red Baron / Panzer Attack and upon inserting the cartridge into the machine and turning it on, I was greeted with no change in the default menu of the Bally. My "sealed" cart is unfunctioning, still-born out of its factory-provided protective film. Broken it is, and broken it shall remain, given my dearth of el

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Football, Bally, 1978

Well, my homebrew Bally Astrocade controller didn't work as well as I had hoped.   Each component works well enough, but it's hard to steady the box while trying to press the button, use the paddle-knob and use the joystick at the same time. For such a situation, nothing beats the original controller. Fortunately, I was able to get one repaired by cleaning its potentiometer and trying the WD-40 trick. So, I let my son use the "official" and I use the Frankenstien'd one.   The

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Ugly Homebrew

Guess what that is!!!   It's a Bally Professional Arcade controller which I Frankenstein'd from an Atari VCS joystick and paddle. Oh, and a small white cardboard box, newspaper and scotch tape.   No solder for the wiring either, just cut, strip, twist and tape. Scotch tape.   Now, there's a lot of people out there who lend a bit of flare to their homebrew hardware projects. Quirky behavior like planning and design were left behind while I did this completely on the

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Math and Loathing on the Bally

Elementary Math / Speed Math / Bingo Math Lettermatch / Spell n Score / Crosswords Bally Professional Arcade, 1978   I can't honestly say anything about these titles other than that MESS, which does a great job of emulating the Fairchild Channel F, doesn't support the Bally Professional Arcade as well, at least in my experience.   I can't get my PSX controller to interact with MESS in the Bally emulation (like I can in the Channel F emulation) and the analog knob of

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Brickyard / Clowns

Sorry for the long absence. In setting up our Christmas living room my Bally Pro Arcade was trapped underneath a table. To get to it we would've had to move a large sofa bed and we just weren't up to it. Now the holidays are over . . . let the chronogaming continue!   Brickyard / Clowns - Bally Pro Arcade 1978   Brickyard is essentially Breakout. The only variation from Atari's Breakout is that there is some music and a stunningly good brick busting sound effect. I might have

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Datsun 280 Zzzap / Dodgem

Datsun 280 Zzzap / Dodgem, Bally Professional Aracade, 1978   Okay, these are early don't-hit-something driving games.   For those of you not familiar with Bally's version of Dodgem: The object of the game is to get as far as you can in the time allotted (you choose how many seconds) while avoiding collision with the cars that you are passing. You control the horizontal positioning of a car with the paddle. The view is top down and you are driving towards the top of the scree

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Bally Professional Arcade Built Ins

Jeez, just when I thought I had it all working I go and break a controller.   I've been really excited about playing the Bally Professional Arcade because it has a four player option on some of its games and they've got a true joystick/paddle/trigger controller combo thing going on with their interface, PLUS a 24 key-keypad. Bally spent money on their interfaces, at least that's the way it looks to me.   I do have FOUR Bally controllers. Unfortunately, I only have one which

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My APF plea . . .

This is sort of an interim entry taking place between the sharing my experiences with the Fairchild Channel F and going on to explore the Bally Professional Arcade.   I just won an APF MP1000 a few weeks ago on eBay and, in separate auctions, won six carts for it.   I still have some time before I get to this system, but when I do, half of its library is unavailable to me. As far as I know, an emulator for it isn't finished and the carts for it are not dumped. I'm about to st

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Spoiler! Video Whizball Easter Egg

Videocart #20, Video Whizball, FCF 1978   WOW!   I haven't got the instructions for this Videocart so I felt I should come up with a setting for this ancient gaming gem.   Here's the scenario: two squares, (call them "Blue" and "Green") -- enemies from the day they were born -- spit their hatred for each other across a field of battle about which huge lumbering red squares roam (We'll call them "Reds"). To express their hatred for one another, Blue and Green may spi

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Don't do the crime, if you can't hang from twine.

Videocart #18, Hangman, FCF 1978   Parental Caution: This related experience refers to a repeated scene of a hanging. Be advised.     Everyone likes to try the Classics in a new medium and Hangman is no exception. In 1978 it appeared on the Atari and the Channel F, so beloved was this traditional word game. The Channel F boldly preserves the tradition of the designers' original vision by allowing the players to hang an identifiably human figure. I don't actually ha

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Video Pinball, Fairchild Channel F, 1978

Videocart #17, Video Pinball, FCF 1978   I wasn't able to find instructions for this one, but the label has enough guidelines for use that we were able to figure it out for the most part.   It's not really Video Pinball at all. It's Video Breakout, which is the same as saying Breakout (licensing issues aside), since the "video" part of the name is assumed.   We do enjoy some of the variations on Video Breakou-er-Pinball as presented on this cart. The game variant ca

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Dodge-It, FCF 1978

Videocart #16, Dodge-It, Fairchild Channel F, 1978   We really enjoy Dodge-It. Simple concept: You and your second player (optional) are in a box. A red ball (square) bounces into the box and you have to avoid its many rebounds off the walls of your enclosed space. Avoid it for long enough and it is joined by a second and then a third and then a fourth and so on up to nine bouncing balls. The highest we got was six balls at once. A counter on the left increases as you play and stops wh

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Memory Matches, Channel F

Memory Match I & II, Fairchild Channel F, 1978   What was bright and shiny in 1977 is now old and faded. Here in 1978 I don't think there is anyone who thinks of the Fairchild Channel F as a serious competitor against the might that is the Atari VCS. Yes, the controllers are interesting, but the apparent speed, resolution and color capability seems so extremely limited when put against the Atari VCS.   Another crop of games DID come out for the Channel F in 1978. The appa

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Codebreaker

Codebreaker, Atari VCS 1978   This cartridge contains two games, Codebreaker, which is a videogame version of the tabletop game, Mastermind, and Nim which is a videogame version of the ancient game Nim.   I've already written about the Fairchild Channel F version of these games, Mindreader and Nim. Go back and read it if you want. It's not funny, but it's informative. Bottom line is: I like playing Mastermind-clones and Nim. Sue me.   Now, let's talk about the Atari

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Hangman aka Spelling

Hangman aka Spelling, Atari VCS, 1978   If you are from a family that can afford an Atari VCS but can't afford a pencil and paper, this game is for you!   Hangman is the time-honored game of guessing a word by suggesting letters and punishing someone else by hanging them if you guess too many letters wrong before guessing the word. This used to be real fun, until someone suggested that it was illegal. At that time, we, as a society, had to resort to merely drawing the poor co

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Hunt & Score aka Memory Match

Hunt & Score aka Memory Match aka A Game of Concentration   I think there should be a limited and defined set of "real world" games that are appropriate for translation into the art form of videogames. The following is my hastily composed list of criteria.   1: Any real world game for which it may not always be easy to find a human opponent. 2: Any real world game that normally involves two or more teams, physical exertion or a lot of expensive equipment. 3: Any

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Flag Capture, 1978 Atari VCS aka Capture

Flag Capture, Atari VCS 1978 aka Capture   I dreaded replaying this game. I don't remember having a bad time with it as a kid, I just didn't thrill to the prospect of playing it again.   Two players on a 7 by 9 grid of squares. Hidden in one of the squares is a flag. Hidden in the 62 other squares are clues to help you find the flag or bombs to blow you back to where you started. So, if you don't blow yourself up and you don't find the flag, you're going to find an arrow clue

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Outlaw aka Gunslinger

Outlaw aka Gunslinger   This was one of the first games I owned. I had the Sears branded version entitled Gunslinger. Is there anyone else who has flashbacks of the Yul Brenner-bot stalking some running guy from the 70s whenever they hear the word "gunslinger"?   1978 was three years after this dueling pistols style of game first appeared in the arcades in the form of Gun Fight. I think this was the second game (after PONG) with which I had had direct arcade contact prior to

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Brain Games

Brain Games, Atari VCS, 1978   Simon and Merlin were two of my favorite games from this era in my life. I think that back in the day I would've really enjoyed the memory sequence game experience as translated to my TV screen by Brain Games. This was my first time playing this cart.   Brain Games uses the Atari Keypad technology to transform your TV into a memory challenger, for one or two players. The different games are Touch Me, Count Me, Picture Me, Find Me, Add Me, Play Me and Bite Me. O

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Home Run / Baseball Atari VCS

Home Run aka Baseball   The game of Baseball is, so far as I know, the only title (other than Pong-a-likes) to appear on the Odyssey, Fairchild Channel F, The RCA Studio II and the Atari VCS. I have reason to believe this will keep happening in the future (from 1978). I base this belief on the assumption that a) there are many people who watch televised Baseball games. b) these people are already used to sitting on their asses in front of the TV. c) Baseball season doesn't last forever. And, f

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