Christmas and Spectrums

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Its that time of year again, when the tree comes out of the attic, lights go up and the sound of “Mistletoe and Wine” blares from supermarket speakers throughout the land.

So during the festive season, what is there for a geek to do? Well how about an 8 bit slice of Christmas music? Tired of listening to the same old songs? Well thanks to Rush Coil, you can enjoy all those festive classics in full 8 bit glory

http://rushcoil.bandcamp.com/album/8-bit-christmas

If thats not your sort of thing, then how about a NES cartridge jam packed with festive fun? Better still it’s designed to work on your original NES.

http://www.retrousb.com/product_info.php?cPath=30&products_id=132

There also “A Christmas Story” by 8 bit Cinema

If doesn’t tantalize you, then how about a good book?

“8 Bit Christmas” by Kevin Jakubowski

“It’s 1980-something and all nine-year-old Jake Doyle wants for Christmas is
a Nintendo Entertainment System. No Jose Canseco rookie card, no GI Joe
hovercraft, no Teddy friggin’ Ruxpin-just Nintendo. But when a hyperactive
Shih Tzu is accidentally crushed to death by a forty-two-inch television set
and every parent in town blames Nintendo, it’s up to Jake to take matters
into his own hands. The result is a Christmas quest of Super Mario Bros.
proportions, filled with flaming wreaths, speeding minivans, lost retainers,
fake Santas, hot teachers, snotty sisters, “Super Bowl Shuffles” and one
very naked Cabbage Patch Kid. Told from a nostalgic adult perspective, 8-Bit
Christmas is a hilarious and heartfelt look back at the kid pop culture of
the 1980s.”

http://www.amazon.co.uk/8-Bit-Christmas-Kevin-Jakubowski/dp/0578130203

Hopefully some of that will have satisfied your festive 8 bit needs. Before the Christmas season began, I found myself repairing a pair of Spectrum+ computers. One was missing an ear phone socket and the other turned out to have a none functioning keyboard. The one with the faulty socket was going to need a lot of work as the display was also turned out to be slightly out of  wack. Fortunately the keyboard on this micro was fully working, so I choose the simplest option and swapped the keyboards. Result? One working  Spectrum+ and one not so working Spectrum+

 

The ZX Spectrum+

 

spectrum_plusIntroduced in October 1984, the Plus was meant give a face lift to the  original Spectrum. Replacing the original rubber keyboard with a more practical plastic design, which it inherited from Sinclairs business computer  the “Sinclair QL”. The original Speccy had a revolutionary design at time of it’s release, but two years later, micro’s such as the Commodore 64 were beginning to make it looks clumsy and out of date. Besides competition from other computer manufacturers, Sinclair also faced a huge number of  companies selling custom cases for the ZX Spectrum. Intented to provide the original rubber Spectrum with a fully functioning plastic keyboard. As a bid to compete with these third party cases, Sinclair offered it’s own. Designed to house the original 1982 ZX Spectrum, the case upgraded any original Speccy in to a Spectrum+.

Ultimately the upgrade to the original ZX Spectrum was hit and miss, one of the main problems being with users complaining about keys falling out.


Capcom DuckTales Remastered

Copyright Capcom

Copyright Capcom

Once in a while a game comes along that makes you think “I have to play that!”. Such was the case with Capcom’s “Ducktales Remastered”, which gives the popular NES game of the same name a fresh new look, ready for high def. Developed by Wayforward, who are also known for developing Contra 4.

In this remastered offering, you play as Scrooge McDuck or one of his three nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, who embark on a classic adventure to exotic locations around the world, while searching for five legendary treasures. The stages are non linear, so it is up to the player to decide where to go. Levels play very much like any 8 bit platform back in the day, with the player exploring each level to pick up health, coins and defeat the various enemies that are out to stop Scrooge as he seeks his treasure.

Ducktales Remastered is a fantastic tribute to original 80’s platformer, as well as the original NES Ducktales game. Boasting hand draw characters and a lush 3D environment, you wouldn’t think it could get any better, but it does! Ducktales Remastered features the original Disney voice actors from the 80’s cartoon show, providing voices for in game dialogue. Did I mention the original theme tune has also been included in the game? While I have never played the original NES version, the remastered offering has every bit the feel of a classic platformer. For younger gamers who are used to Skyrim, Call of Duty or Asassins Creed, Ducktales may prove to be an acquired taste, but I believe the 5-10 year old will still get fun from playing these Disney characters.  Older gamers will buy this games out of nostalgia or a long standing love for retro games.  If like me, your a sucker for the cartoons you watched growing up, then this game will pander to your inner child. Ducktales Remaster is available on the Playstation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, Wii U shop and Steam.

Left DuckTales NES, Right Ducktales Remastered

Left DuckTales NES, Right Ducktales Remastered

The version I played was for the Xbox 360, which lends itself perfectly for this platformer. The controls are smooth and sharp, ten minutes in to the game and I found myself humming along to the Ducktales theme tune, completely absorbed in to my game. It is said the development team poured their heart and soul in to this Ducktales and it really does show. The love for the material radiates straight off the screen. From the music score, down to Scrooge’s chest going up and down to indicate he is breathing. The level of detail which has been put in to Ducktales, makes it one of the best games I have bought in recent years.

Credit must also be given to Capcom, for being faithful to the original game and producing a quality title that does much for the Ducktales franchise. A lesser publisher might have been tempted to cut corners, to simply cash in on the name. Something that often happened in the 80’s and 90’s, much to the frustration of Nintendo and Sega gamers alike. Any one remember Total Recall for the NES or E.T for the Atari 2600? Nuff said!

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