Category Archives: Games

Elite turns 25 years old

BBC: Classic video game Elite turns 25

Elite co-developer David Braben takes the BBC’s Daniel Emery on a flight in the BBC Micro computer game.

The space fantasy involved trading in slaves, narcotics and minerals as you flew around a fictional universe.

Pirate and police ships threatened to disrupt your journey or kill you.

I never got to the rank of Elite, but I did make it to Deadly.

Pac-Man Championship Edition for mobile

Turns out I don’t need an XBox to play the new(ish) Pac-Man Championship Edition; it’s also available on mobiles.

I’ve had a go of it… great graphics, and the gameplay is a really clever twist on olde Pacman. Very cool. Though oddly the sound doesn’t seem to work…

The problem is the controls. You can either use the phone’s numeric keypad (2/4/6/8 for up/left/right/down… pretty logical)… or the directional buttons. But on my Nokia N95 phone, it’s hard to find the right numerics to direct Pacman, and if you use the directional buttons you’re at constant risk of pressing one of the surrounding buttons, some of which will unceremoniously throw you out of the game.

I expect I’ll get used to it.

Lessons from video games

This week isn’t just the 40th anniversary of the first moon landings, it’s also the 40th anniversary of the video game Lunar Lander.

Having a go at this excellent remake (for Windows), I learnt an important lesson that one can use in real life:

Try pressing Shift to start if nothing else seems to work No, that’s not it.

Don’t go for the bigger fuel tank. Upgrading to the more efficient engine is a better buy.

Lunar Lander 2

Actually that’s got a fairly narrow application, hasn’t it.

Oh well, the game was fun.

Right on Commander!

I’ve been trying out Oolite, the open-source Elite clone.

It’s got its niggles, but it’s a very good copy of the BBC Micro original — I took a look at that again to compare. I’ve found myself wanting the original keyboard controls, and may go ahead and reconfigure it to match.

While playing around with the BBC version (actually the slightly-enhanced Master version) I refreshed my memory of how to dock without using a docking computer. I was a bit rusty, but managed to do it without too much trouble. (Well, okay, it was actually my second attempt — BeebEm includes an option to record output to an AVI.)

Gamecube controllers for Wii

If you want to play a Gamecube game on the Wii, you need a Gamecube controller. Nintendo’s Classic Controller won’t do it. (Makes me wonder why they bothered releasing it, since you can use a Gamecube controller for Virtual Console classic games.)

Anyway, the youngest wanted one to play some Gamecube games, so we went hunting (in Melbourne). You can’t buy original Nintendo controllers retail now (might find them on ebay I suppose), but the (clone) options we found were:

Harvey Norman — corded, $30.
KMart — had nothing.
Dick Smith — cordless, $40.
EB Games — corded, $30 (not listed on their web site).
Game — corded, normally $24, on sale for $19.
JB Hifi — same as Dick Smith.
Big W — corded plus a Gamecube memory card (needed for Gamecube saves) $29.

As he wanted a memory card, and they appear to be pretty scarce, we ended up with the latter, which works well, though it would have been nice with a slightly longer cord.

It’s nice to know that (for the moment) you can still buy these things and play the old games. Viva la backwards compatibility.

Xbox incompatibility

Back before Christmas, I had pondered getting an XBox 360. Hey, it would let me play the new Pacman, and that Braid game sounds really good.

Then I discovered according to Wikipedia and Microsoft, there are a number of XBox games we have at home that can't be played on the 360.

So I’d have to keep the old XBox going to play them. That sucks.

And at least one of them is a Microsoft game.

  • Midtown Madness 3
  • Shrek 2
  • Wallace and Gromit
  • Midway Arcade Classics
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 4

Evidently each game needs an emulation profile. Which means I suppose that alas the XBox 360 is not sufficiently advanced as to be able to fully and properly emulate the original XBox, which is why each game needs to be made compatible individually.

We ended up getting a Wii for Christmas. Admittedly the old XBox hasn't been switched-on since.

At least Nintendo do their backward compatibility properly. Having seen how Microsoft's dealt half-heartedly with the old XBox, I wouldn't have wanted to buy into another technological dead-end.

I might see what's out there to turn it into a Media Centre instead.