Thursday, 31 December 2015

SANTA CLAUS CAME TO TOWN

As you'll probably have caught on to by now it'll be the New Year before the blog starts to take off and head in whatever direction this wonderful little computer takes me, but just before we say goodbye to 2015 altogether I thought I'd share some wonderful additions with you.

Well I finally got another copy of Fantasy World Dizzy after the one I'd ordered months ago never worked on the big first day with my new Commodore.  If you're not up to speed yet you can catch up by clicking here.  But it wasn't the only further addition to my Commodore this festive season I'm very happy to say, as two of my friends wrapped up a couple of brilliant C64-related gifts for me as well.

But first, with so much time off from work over December I was able to finally get my claws into a few lengthy sessions with good ol' Dizzy himself and the result was even better than I'd imagined:


I'm addicted to it all over again and a write-up will be coming to the blog in the new year.

But back to Christmas Day and my friends Andy and Kevin had wrapped up a certain book I'd been clamouring for recently and the C64 game of my favourite film of all time respectively (and one of my top games from back in the day too), both of which will receive the blog treatment soon:


Receiving Christmas presents for the 64 kind of legitimises this whole thing for me and how serious I am about it this time around.  As we settle in to 2016 the blog will be getting a proper design too and you'll begin to see how I'm wanting this to develop, with everything documented right here on this blog.  As such, I do know how it's all going to start so I hope you'll join me in January as it all kicks off!

In the meantime have a very Merry Christmas season and a Happy New Year too and I'll be back soon...

UPDATE: A review of Commodore 64: a visual Commpendium is now up - click here.
FURTHER UPDATE: A review of Fantasy World Dizzy is also up - click here.


Friday, 11 December 2015

DAY ONE


So the day has finally arrived!  The Commodore has been sitting in my spare room since I bought it on eBay in September and then throughout October I added the extra bits and pieces I wanted to play or read, never opening their envelopes more than necessary to check the correct items had been sent.  Wrapped up and placed under one of my Christmas trees ten days ago, it's finally time to reveal what I did buy and, more importantly, does it work?


Well yes, thankfully it does.  Though it was touch and go there I have to say because the first title I wanted to load up was CodemastersFantasy World Dizzy but it simply ran out of tape and stayed on the loading screen.  I resorted to the tried and tested tactics we had as teenagers of unplugging the joystick and trying again and trying side B of the tape.  I noticed the Shift Lock key depressed and convinced myself that was the reason it hadn't worked.  Nope, still nothing.  I was worried about the tape drive, as this cassette had come from a reputable online shop, not eBay!

A quick try of a tape from eBay and it worked perfectly.  I'll be staying away from that shop in future then.  I can't return it thanks to waiting this long to open it and test it, but still I had thought better of such a website and so I'd spent a bit more on it, safe in the knowledge it'd work.  I know cassettes won't last forever but I'll stick with eBay and the likes in future I think.  At least if it doesn't work I won't have lost as much money.  Another Dizzy has been ordered and I can't wait for the little fella to arrive.

Everything else seems grand and I had a great session on the public domain game Sensitive which was on one of the Commodore Format PowerPacks.  As a teen this great little puzzler with simple but effective graphics and really catchy music had me hooked and I can feel it getting its claws into me all over again already.  I'll be covering it in more depth soon, but for now it really was like Christmas Day and I spent time also perusing over the magazines and manual, the hardware and the games packaged with it.

So this post is just a quick run down of the day and what I have to begin with, with more in-depth things to come as I get stuck in to each individual title, piece of reading material and coding.


Like a child (or a man dangerously close to some sort of mid-life crisis) I opened the box of extras in bed this morning and was greeted with lots of brown.  But inside each envelope was a little gem of something I'd ordered months back and I'd actually forgotten about some pieces so it really was a nice surprise.


Commodore Format #14 was my very first issue and so I simply had to have it, backed up with a bunch of earlier editions including the premiere one!  The same manual I had was hunted down too, there's the PowerPack with Sensitive and other games I remember well on it, a double-pack containing one of my very favourites Paradroid, the non-working Dizzy and finally Castle Master which is one of those slow-moving but absorbing 3D games made with Freescape (a belter of a 3D engine at the time).  Even though I never played this game at the time I've a particular reason for purchasing it now, which I'll get to at a later date.  Add in a RF lead and that's the lot.

After breakfast it was time to unleash the big box!


The Commodore itself was in a large cardboard box all sealed up with parcel tape as it was falling apart.  It had originally been the Light Fantastic bundle, coming with a C2N tape deck and a lightgun, something else I'd never had before so that was a surprise on opening it.  Yes, my memory for what I bought just three months ago really is getting bad at my age.  Inside there was also a very pink joystick, the shape of which became forever linked with the C64, so much so that you can buy a black version of it in the shops now with loads of Commodore games pre-installed to plug straight into your TV.

The actual boxes the computer and tape deck were in were in great condition and even contained the original polystyrene inserts, but my word they stank of smoke!  That's one thing I really don't like about buying second-hand online (even though there's not much choice), when something comes from a smoker's home and it reeks.  It seems to have clung to the polystyrene in particular and while the computer etc. have been refurbished they certainly weren't cleaned on the outside, as they're a bit discoloured and will need washed down to get rid of that smell.


But that's only a temporary bad point and not something I'm worried about.  After all, the last time I purchased a C64 it was much more discoloured and a good scrub with some Flash wipes had it gleaming like new, so I'll just do that.

I also have a handful of games which came with the original bundle which I was simply going to sell on, but I'll see which ones use the lightgun first and I'll check them out first.  They don't look that great but I was never interested in them anyway, I just wanted a refurbished 64 and to start buying exactly what I wanted for it instead.  There's some great lightgun-compatible games out there and I had some before which were just too difficult with a joystick, so it may be interesting having this little peripheral this time around, you never know.

So there's my system as it stands on day one.  I've a busy weekend ahead and so it's going to be left for a few days to begin with, but what a magnificent and addictive start to the holidays!

Thursday, 10 December 2015

CHRISTMAS EVE COMES EARLY


Yes, of course I wrapped them up!

Thanks to a kindly donation from a friend who was about to fire them into a skip I've got a cracker CRT Philips (coincidentally enough) TV and the coolest retro-futuristic remote I ever did see and I'm all fired up and ready to go tomorrow morning.

A few years back I tried out a Nintendo GameCube and a Panasonic 3DO on my HDTV and the quality was atrocious, so I kept a hold of my old widescreen flatscreen for them but at 28" and a hefty woofer and speaker system around its casing I don't think my dining table would've coped.  These older systems were built with the TVs of the time in mind, obviously, and always look better on these screens.  Of course there's some clever Commodore fans out there who have built devices so you can use your new TVs with an excellent (even improved!) picture, but I'm keeping it purely retro.  At least for the time being anyway.

So tomorrow morning is the big unwrapping.  I just hope it all works!  It is a completely refurbished C64 etc. and it came with a ten-day guarantee at the time of purchase, but that's run out somewhat, what with it still being in the box it arrived in way back in September, never having been taken out.  But the eBay seller had a perfect track record of selling refurbished classic systems for years now so I'm sure I'll be grand.

Everything I've bought since receiving the computer has been briefly checked to make sure the right thing was in each envelope but apart from that they haven't been touched either.  So, with saving everything until the first day of my Christmas time off from work, I thought I'd go the extra mile and wrap up my presents to myself.  Why not?

I'll be back tomorrow to show you what all I've purchased, hope you can join me then.  I can't wait to finally get my hands on everything.