Chubby Checker: “Dig Dug”

Come on everybody, clap your hands. We’re goin’ underground to do the Dig Dug dance!

Matt Osborne, son of former Atari VP Don Osborne, uploaded this lost gem to SoundCloud. Little did I know that Mr. Twist himself recorded this track to be used in a television commercial advertising the arcade version of Dig Dug! The track has catchy, danceable tune that has served as the hallmark for CC’s career while he belts out Buckner & Garcia-esque lyrics about the action and adventure one could only find in an arcade at the time. It’s a wonder that the song wasn’t used in the final version of the commercial, but I suppose we’ll just have to chalk it up to another fatal error from Atari’s marketing department.

ELO: The Video Game

Who doesn’t love ELO? With Jeff Lynne’s synthy riffs, deep musicianship, and haunting vocals, Electric Light Orchestra proved themselves to be one of the best bands of the progressive rock era. In addition, they helped pioneer the idea of the concept album–a collection of songs that fit together either thematically or musically–to tell a story. ELO bridged the gap between esoteric prog-rock (a la Pink Floyd or The Moody Blues) and the dance-pop sounds of 1970s-era Top 40 radio.

To celebrate Jeff Lynne’s incredible contribution to popular music, the gang over at Pterodactyl Squad have put together a smashing tribute to one of the best bands of the progressive rock era. They took concepts and sounds explored through ELO’s many hits, combined them with the spacy artwork found on many of their album covers, and imagined a frenetic shoot-em-up fueled by some of the most famous riffs in classic rock. If you close your eyes, you can just imagine yourself in an alternate 1989, sitting in your living room alone with your Ataritendo Genesis and television, piloting a small fighter around the scenescape in the cover of Out Of The Blue, blasting past evil women, searching for Mr. Blue Sky before he is turned to stone.

Strange magic, indeed!

‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Author Dead At 78

R.A. Montgomery (1936-2014)

This is a sad weekend for children of the 1980s: favoured television producer Glen Larson (Knight Rider, Magnum, P.I.) lost his battle with esophageal cancer yesterday, and Friday it was announced that beloved Choose Your Own Adventure creator and author R.A. Montgomery died earlier this week at his home in Vermont. He was 78.

Montgomery’s Choose Your Own Adventure Series was a staple of my childhood reading habits. I can remember spending much of my weekly “library time” in elementary school staring at the shelf of CYOA titles, reading the back of each one, studying the cover art, and trying to decide which adventure I would go on. Eventually, I would take what I learned from reading and studying these books and their structure, and apply it to computers. I learned how to program in BASIC at a young age, and my earliest attempts were making rudimentary adventure games with a similar decision-making mechanic.

Even in adulthood, I have picked up the occasional CYOA title. A hardcover edition of my favourite, The Race Forever, stands in a prominent position in my physical library. I read it from time to time, between jobs or projects. I still haven’t memorised all the outcomes yet. I want to introduce my nephews to the series, but I fear that with as many distractions as they have now, the fun of imagining yourself in an exotic location with a desperate mission, making split-second decisions based on a few paragraphs of text (and occasionally peeking to see if one leads to “The End”) might take a backseat to Playstation 4.

How To Install RetroArch And Libretro In Ubuntu Linux

RetroArch may be the single greatest contribution to classic gaming emulation since the dawn of Nesticle: a multi-console emulator frontend spanning the history of videogames from the Atari 2600 through Playstation eras. Libretro is the companion to RetroArch that contains all the emulator cores.

Installing RetroArch and Libretro in Windows or OSX is a fairly simple process of downloading the RA binary and the Libretro cores, but in Linux, it takes a little more effort.

First, add the Hunter Kaller repository to Ubuntu and update:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:hunter-kaller/ppa
sudo apt-get update

Install RetroArch and Libretro with a couple of terminal commands:

sudo apt-get install retroarch
sudo apt-get install libretro*

When you run RetroArch, the Libretro cores will be located in /usr/lib/libretro/

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 7.26.04 PM

How To Setup a Generic Joystick or Gamepad In Ubuntu Linux

If you’re going to play games using RetroArch, you’re going to need a proper controller. There are a variety of wired, “classic-style” controllers out there that can offer you a variety of retro experiences, but they all need a driver to work. Fortunately, the Ubuntu repositories have you covered!

First, install the Joystick input driver package:

sudo apt-get install joystick

Next, install the Joystick Configuration package:

sudo apt-get install jstest-gtk

Now you can use jstest-gtk to configure your settings and calibrate the controller. Everything else is ready to go!

How to get Command & Conquer The First Decade to Work in Windows 7

Command & Conquer is perhaps the greatest PC game franchise in history, and Electronic Arts in one of its most surprising moves released an unadulterated collection of all the franchise games up to that point–before subsequently ruining the whole thing with C&C 3 and Red Alert 3. I ran across a clean copy at the local thrift shop, so I picked it up for a few dollars. (Yes, I know that technically, I could’ve downloaded the game from EA for free, except that it’s probably not still available, or–if it is–it’s surprisingly difficult to locate the original download links.) Here’s how to get Command & Conquer The First Decade to work in Windows 7.

Command & Conquer The First Decade
Pictured: Four of the best PC games ever made, One fun little RTS, and a forgettable FPS
The problem

The problem here is that I’m playing a twenty-year-old game written for a twenty-year-old operating system on a 21st-century version of Windows. One consolation is that Windows 7 has a pretty decent level of compatibility with applications written for older versions of the OS, and that is our saving grace.

The solution

The trick is that we’re not going to run any of the games through the launcher that EA installs; we’re going to do this old-school, via good ol’ Windows Explorer. For the older titles in the franchise, we’re going to need to take one more step that I’ll elaborate on in a moment. For each of the titles in the series, you’ll need to set the compatibility settings for the game’s executable.

For C&C, original Red Alert, and Tiberium Wars, the exe file should be set to Windows 95 compatibility, and all the check boxes should be marked (640×480 resolution, 256 colors, disable visual themes, disable desktop composition, disable display scaling). Also, you’re going to need to kill explorer.exe to prevent any funky colors from accidentally showing up in the game. This is where our batch file comes in. Open Notepad and type the following code:

taskkill /f /IM explorer.exe
C:\"Program Files (x86)"\"EA Games"\"Command & Conquer The First Decade"\"Command & Conquer Red Alert(tm)"\"ra95.exe"
start explorer.exe

Note that this points to the default installation location of Red Alert. If you’ve installed to a different location, make sure to use that instead!

Save this file as “RA95.bat” or something easily recognized. On running, the code will force-quit Windows Explorer (the Windows “shell”, or operating environment), run the game, then reopen Explorer when finished.

Red Alert 2 only needs to be run in compatibility mode for Windows 98/2000, no other settings need to change. Renegade should work in 98/2000 mode as well, though I have yet to verify this.

Generals should be run in Vista SP2 compatibility mode, with no other settings changed.