Sunday, 19 July 2020

The "obscure" SKB Kontur Kpoxa

Hi again folks,

I recently discovered a very obscure Soviet game console called the "SKB Kontur Krokha" (translated in English) that i didn't knew existed (Hey, better late than never) which came out in Russia in 1990. This game console as only 200 consoles ever released and were given to employees of the manufacture.

If you poke around the net, you can find a lot of information but mostly in Russian.

(picture from: http://alemorf.ru/comps/kroha/index.html)

One of the best place to find many pictures of the console, inside it and screenshots of games, just go to the upper URL mentioned under the picture.

You can also find schematics of this unique game console and also an emulator (err...multi-emulator actually) done by the same author of the web site: Aleksey Morozov (aka alemorf).

So after finding his emulator, i've spent a few hours translating the bios (game1.rom) in English the best i could as sometimes you don't have much space to hack names and here's some screenshots:









This all been done with Google translation and a hex editor, simple as that...oh and a few hours to spare. ;P

As i have uploaded the translated bios, i have noticed that it was already added to the MAME as version 0.210 (May 2019), so i have tried out MAME:


And replaced the translated bios in the zip file, and...



Works like a charm! :)

So if anyone wants to play the "Kpoxa" in English, you can download the file HERE.

This was a nice change of pace from my OdySim project, been quite a time i haven't used an Hex editor. So have fun folks! :)





The New Atari VCS ...

Hi folks, after the "Coleco Devolved" post (see last post), now it's the turn of the new Atari VCS. I won't make a super long rant or list of the "cons" that this new Atari console has, there is plenty of people doing it right now (check some forums and Youtube). So i'll simply post an image that tell how i fell about this new VCS console:



Like Stan Lee would have said: 'Nuff Said true believers!

Man...2020 is such a $%$%?$%?$% year (Corona-19 Virus, Coleco Evolved, Atari VCS, etc) and the year isn't finished yet. * SIGH! *


Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Coleco Evolved....hummm....

Hi folks,

Many of you knows about the Coleco mini-arcade tabletops released in the beginning of the 80's and after four decades, these are mostly treasure memories as these are now pretty desired by retro games and collectors (like many of us) and prices can go easily from $75 to $500 (and more) depending on the rarety (like Zaxxon & Ms.Pac-Man), complete or not and on the condition (from "what happened to this game ?" to "near mint").


And recently, we have now the possibility to play the real arcade game on these tabletops IF it's modded with an Raspberry PI and a LCD screen (and other parts too) and back then, how many of us was dreaming to do this and with technology today, it's sure is possible!


Ok now back to the subject: Coleco evolved tabletops.


First time i saw these, i said "What the hell ?!! These are NOT arcade games!". But after that i was wondering why choose Rainbow Brite & Robotech as new Coleco tabletop games ? I can understand that both Rainbow Brite & Robotech are part of good memories for some few of us (adults in their 40-50's) but all the retro gamers and game collectors i know never mentioned these toys as their favorites back then. Now if we ask some kids between 8 to 16, ,ore than 85% of them never heard of Robotech and Rainbow Brite.

So my question is: Why the heck they released these games in the first place if only a very small part of retro games and game collectors will buy these instead of a Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, etc ? One answer is that many companies has already brought the rights to our favorite golden age arcade games but either Namco, Taito, Sega, etc...have not given their rights exclusively to one company. So who the bloody hell chose Rainbow Brite & Robotech ?

I simply don't wanna know. It took quite some time (2 years i think) before these two game became available on the market and prices varies from $75 to $200 on different web sites (especially UPay). After that, Coleco decided to released two other mini arcade tabletops:


Berzerk and Berzerk/Frenzy. AHH!! Finally Golden Age Arcade Games!

But wait...err..why Berzerk (as a sole game) and Berzerk/Frenzy (two games) ??!!????? What the ?$%$%%$ ??!! I don't get it....if they would ask me which one i would buy, the question is so easy: Berzerk/Frenzy! You would get 2-games instead of one and to make matter worse, Berzerk/Frenzy was supposed to be at $79 regular price and Berzerk (solo) priced regular at $89.

Say what ??! $10 more for only one game ?? But they state on kickstarter "Special Edition" shell...errr...i compared both tabletops and i don't see a damn difference (joysticks, buttons, LED, etc), especially the shell. Somebody at Coleco didn't drank a coffee that day.

This second kickstarter project was unsuccessful as they wanted to raise $90,652 in Canadian funds but only raised $27,732 in CND funds. So is it the end of Coleco evolved ? I don't want to be rude or mean but i would say: hopefully! Especially with the Coleco Chameleon fiasco, the person/partners who owns should have sold the Coleco (and Colecovision) brand names to other investors.

I know, i know...i'm bitching but they are pulling both brand names into the mud and i'm not the only one who has a bad tooth against them. Anyhow....looks like at least they did something good as they did replicate (exactly ??) the good old tabletops shell. But t buy a "evolved" tabletop, it's at least $75 whch is about (more or less) the same price to buy a decent Coleco Pac-Man tabletop (sometime a Donkey Kong or Frogger).

In a very near future (few months at the most, hopefully), Arcade1Up (yup, those big arcade games) will sell three new mini tabletops:

Mega Man, Frogger and Ducktales

 Mega Man will contain 2 games: Mega Man1 & Mega Man 2 (both NES versions), Frogger will also contain 2 games: Frogger and Time Pilot (OH Yeah!!) (both Game Boy Advance versions) and finally Ducktales which also will have two games (Ducktales 1 & 2)(both NES versions).

BTW, if really the Frogger tabletop will contain both Frogger & Time Pilot version of the Game Boy Advance, maybe they will be a way to hack/mod to get four other games: Yie Ar Kung Fu, rush 'N Attack, Gyruss and Scramble. This is just a speculation as Robotech IS the GBA version and Since Frogger & Time Pilot are Konami, these two games were released on the GBA as the Konami Collector's Series Arcade Advanced



Like i've wrote, this is ONLY a speculation but i hope i'm right. And in an interview, someone from Arcade1Up said that these three tabletops may be under $50 but that's not official yet. But what if Arcade1Up sold these between $40 to $50 each ? Now this would be great to buy for the shell and make your own MAME/Pi tabletop.

Think of it, cost less than buying an original 80's tabletop and won't be painful to scrap a new game than an old game, and finally we would preserve more original Coleco tabletops!

Oh and Arcade1Up IS..yup...IS using the same shell as the Coleco evolved shell, take a look:



 "PENDING LICENSOR APPROVAL"



Ok, that's it for today. Until next time, take care and keep in touch! :)

--- Sly "pissed off by new Coleco owner/partners" DC ---

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Vectrex is naughty!!

Just some humor to bring a smile in these hard times...


I've posted this picture in the Vectrex Fans Unites group... ;)

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Uploaded 7 game simulators on Archive.org

Hi folks!

As with all what's going worldwide, i thought it was time to "clean up" as we just began Spring season. I already started to join the "Love M.E.G.S." blog with this one 2-3 days ago and now, i have uploaded two old simulators and 5 new ones...err...well, not so new since these were done in 2013!

First, the "Epoch Electrotennis/Entex Gameroom Tele-Pong" simulator:


And the "Marx T.V. Tennis" simulator:


And these never available until now (heck...7 years already! It was about time! LOL!!): Yonezawa Screen Tennis, Waco Blackjack, Waco Chuck-A-Luck, Waco Draw Poker and Waco Slot Machine.






There is no "text" to how to use the Waco handheld as the instructions are already built-in as you just need to press "F9" on how to uses these old electro-mechanical games simulators. And the best thing ?! No needs of batteries! ;p

Go here to download whatever you want:https://archive.org/download/gamessims

So until next time, take care all! =)

--- Sly DC ---

Saturday, 11 January 2020

Vectrex games in color (part 2)

Hi again folks!

In the last post (part 1), i left off with "How to (err...do) i colorize the vectors ?"

Well first, i have to tell that i am using the good old DVE emulator (DOS Vectrex Emulator), well 2 versions exactly (version 1.4 and 2.0) and some games & demos doesn't display correctly in DVE 1.4 (like Tsunami & Vix). But i wasn't the first to colorize Vectrex games as Walt Garey (told you i was going to talk about him in the last post) was the first one.

Walt made especially two overlays that colorize Spike Hoppin' and Star Trek:


But these two overlay will colorize a specific color to a specific intensity, and because of these two overlays, i tried to do one myself but discovered that it was simple to add colors. So after choosing a specific color palette, i have chosen the MS-DOS color palette:


But i could have chosen the Amiga color palette:


Which is almost identical to the MS-DOS color palette (only brown is dark yellow on MS-DOS) and since the DVE is working in DOS so i settled for the MS-DOS color palette.

I have "hinted" in the first Vectrex video (Dark Tower in color) how i colorize the intensity, if you check the "Test rev.4" part, you would have seen this (not the same image):


So here you have it, by implying a specific color palette, each intensity programmed in a game (or demo) will show a specific color, say as an example: Spike is intensity 2, he will be Green and if he was in intensity 5, he will be in Magenta.

But you can choose which color will be shown in which intensity as i did for certain games like in this video (third Vectrex video):


In the video i have made 4 different color palettes, which are:

* Game & Watch style: Here i used the game Paratroopers and grey for intensity 0 (background)
and black for intensity 1 to 15.

* Game Boy style: i used the game Star Hawk with the color light spinach as intensity 0 (background) and black for intensity 1 to 15.


* MSX style: Used the game Y.A.S.I. with blue background (intensity 0) and the rest of the MS-DOS color palette for intensity 1 to 15.

* Virtual Boy style: Again im using Y.A.S.I. but with black as background (intensity 0) and red for intensity 1 to 15.

So you can choose any of the millions of colors but only 16 maximum at a time.

Now did i have modded or hacked the DVE for putting colors ? NOPE! Not even 1 byte! Same as all the demos and games in ROM format, i left them as they are. The only thing i have changed was the BIOS to display "color arcade!" instead of "entertaining new ideas".

So how do i colorize the games ?!?! That....i'm letting you folks to figure it out until i released the files. I have kept that secret for the past 15 years and the only person who has a copy of these files (way back in 2009) was Daniel Bienvenu (yep...the guru programmer of Colecovision). I say "was" because now Daniel is now "Amy" (Hi Amy!).

So in the meanwhile, i'm waiting to see if any of you can figure out how to colorize the games. Graham Toal of the vector forums has an interesting idea how to colorize but his using "VecX - SDL" and a file called "colorize.diff". But i'm using DVE and NO extra files...

Ok said enough. So until next, take care folks!

--- Sly DC ---

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Vectrex games in color (part 1)

Hi folks!

It's been quite a while since i've posted something but to begin this year, i'll talk about a subject that has been on so many minds for so many years: Color Vectrex Games!

But this subject isn't new, in fact, it's pretty old as it started with Smith Engineering when they tried to do a color Vectrex with two layers of  phosphor on an ordinary b&w CRT, which to this day, is the only Vectrex color prototype found to this day (year 2020).


(both pictures from atarihq.com)

And here's some pictures taken from (err...lost the info, sorry!) the prototype above which you can see three different phosphor colors (red, white & yellow)


And this was way back in 1983! Also, Smith Engineering wanted to use  a color CRT but this option was way to expensive. Already the Vectrex was retailed at $199 back in 1982, could you imagine how much it would have cost in color ?! Let's just say that it would have failed because of the high price.

So between 1984 and 1996, no new games were developed until John Dodzilla released, not one, but a few "hombrew" games for the Vectrex.

In the meantime, emulators has begun to pop-up (who remembers M.A.M.E v0.01 ?) and the only Vectrex emulator that existed in the late '90's was the DVE (Dos Vectrex Emulator) which the very first version to appear was version 1.0 by Keith Wilkins in (1996 or 1997? - err....damn i feel so old now...lol!)

And later in the new millennium, other Vectrex emulators began to show up (notable ones: ParaJVE and VecX) but that's another story as i will get back to the DVE...trust me, it's the star of this subject!

Now, in December 2017, a fellow by the name of Jason Kopp (aka Arcade Jason):

decided to hook-up a Vectrex on a color vector monitor, and the results were amazing!



But the problem is that the colors are variable depending which intensity is connected to which RGB color (Red/Green/Blue) and by connecting 2 out of the 3 RGB colors, you can obtain Cyan, Mauve or Yellow. What would be needed is a color circuit of the type used in old Pong consoles and determine which color does what.

Oh and BTW, the very first vector arcade to use colors was Tempest by Atari in 1981 (just an historical fact in case you didn't know).So now the craze of having a Vectrex playing in color has begun! But for me, it has been about 15 years that i've been playing some Vectrex games in color
and i'm NOT bullshitting anyone. One of many project i worked on (i have too many!) is the one called the "VCA" project (Vectrex Color Arcade) which in the beginning i called it "Vector-X" project as i wanted to make a real Vectrex (bartop) arcade in color back then.

Here's a picture of my son playing Web Wars in color when he was 3 years old:






Now my son is 14 years old as i took this picture on June 25, 2009. And in the following months, i have put on my old web site (now defunct) this page: https://web.archive.org/web/20140718234249/http://www.ccjvq.com/slydc/project/vca/vca.htm


I've made two MOV files back then and those were not really good as i had a so %??% cheap video card. But now with technology that advancing so rapidly, i have taken two videos and put them on Youtube:



Oh crap...just saw that both videos have too much brightness! My fault! And here's some screenshots
from the VCA:

Berzerk: only displays one color

Dark Tower: Displays many colors!! 

 Spinball: That one has 3 colors and i'm using hard 
colors on top of the vectors.


 Vectropolis 500: Hidden game with many colors.

 Vectrace: only displays two colors.

 Web Wars: This one too displays many colors!

 Wormhole: Think John Dondzilla would shed a tear 
or two to see so many of his games displaying 
in colors.

Y.A.S.I.: Alex has outdone himself!

So, are you eager to play some Vectrex games in color ?! But you will have to wait (it's been about 15 years, can wait for 2-3 weeks ?!) as i want to explain how the %?%?%? i'm able to play in color before releasing anything.

Ok, so what is the "VCA" project ?

That project began with the DVE created by Keith Wilkins and updated by Chris Salomon (aka Malban), and a guy by the name of "Walt Garey"(i'll talk about Walt in the next part of the story). So long story short, i was able to display different colors on specific vectors and later on, since the space on each sides of overlays were blank, i started to it in good terms like in M.A.M.E using bezels, so now instead of using overlays to colorize, which i wasn't using anymore, i was making bezels for the DVE so that's how the VCA project was born.

You can see a few of these bezels (from Berzerk to Y.A.S.I.) and the best one i've ever made was the one for Y.A.S.I. as it took more than one month to draw pixel by pixel...No Joke! I started to draw these bezel pixel by pixel until i've figured a way to do these bezel way faster and simplier.

So the next question: How to i colorize the vectors ?

That my friends, will be told in the next part of this story and i left a "hint" in the first video (Dark Tower) so in the meantime, check out both videos and take care folks!

--- Sly DC ---