I was surprised with both watching TV and some experiences from fiends and colleagues that people don’t regard items as highly as they used to. What do I mean? Well, take this example.
A few friends convinced me to attend a gaming get-together. It was mainly IBM compatibles, Play Stations – the odd Xbox, and to be honest, I was like a “fish out of water”, an odd experience, and I wandered round wondering why I had been convinced to attend. I spoke to a few people and asked, “Oh, what machine is this running on?” The answerer was just the same, “Oh it’s just an Xbox” or “Oh, it’s a Play Stations 4,” etc. They seemed blasé about the equipment with many people swapping between Playstation, IBM and Xbox, and it seemed they didn’t realise or care about the platform.
I spoke to a guy who proclaimed, “Things aren’t like they used to be, are they?” He then said, “I remember on my C64 even getting the game to load would be a wonder.” I carried on talking and realised this guy was a real c64 user (although he was playing on a ps4). He spoke about the Commodore 64 as if it was a mystical beast and full of magic, then proclaimed with these things (pointing at the play station) when they need more grunt they just upgrade the console. “It will be a ps5 soon, won't it?” (he joked), but back in the day the only way to speed up a game was to optimise the code!
In a way I feel he is right. If a game runs badly you just up-spec the machine. Now this is a tenuous link I know, but I watched a program about recycling furniture, and they claimed the “older items” are better made, and were a labour of love and not just mass produced by a machine like they are now. They lovingly restored the item, and it was a very unique piece of furniture made of solid wood – not MDF or chipboard.
Then I suppose the question is: Have we lost something? Have we lost some sort of magic now that everything is mass produced in China? Has each country lost its input or personalisation for the items, and do we just end up with a clinical piece of electronics – without as some claim, a soul? If an item breaks it's just thrown away, so what’s the point in repairing an electronic item that’s over 3 years old? The item would have been upgraded several times by now!
People all around the world are still resorting older items, and a line from a famous American TV show claims “things just aren’t made like they used to be, these things were built to last.” Think about today where items are tested to destruction in a period of usually 3 years – then the thing will just self-destruct. Heck, my wife convinced me to buy a well know vacuum device as it looked cool; it worked as well as any other device we have ever bought. The suction was the same (granted it didn’t need bags) but throwing the bag away was little more than opening the machine. With this device I had to open the canister at the base with a fiddly clip and it would suddenly shoot open without notice, sending dust all over my arms (with most of the rest not entering the bin but blowing up into my face). Then I had to shake the canister to remove the residue, remove all the filters, and either wash them (if I could) or buy new ones that cost more than the price of a paper bag! Anyway, the device started to go faulty after 3 years of use (the on-of trigger started to work only intermittently) so I bypassed it so the vacuum was always on. Then the motor became faulty as did various clips holding the machine together. A replacement motor cost more than a new machine, so it went into a recycle centre and we vowed to never buy anything again just because it looked nice. Interestingly, most of the items I pulled apart from the machine said “Made in China” even though this model is “Made in Britain.” I guess they mean assembled in Britain
Yes we all love the new shiny things, but when gaming it's always the Commodore machines I come back to. It’s nice to look at new shiny things, but the playability is in the older hardware. Graphics and a CD-quality soundtrack do not make a great game – the only thing a game needs is gameplay. You may see this in my reviews. I may be harsh on the sonics and graphics of a game, but if the gameplay is solid this always bumps up the score in the review.
So after all that ranting I have run out of space. I leave you with a magazine assembled from my inner soul, and hope that in some way you enjoy it. I won’t even tell you about my holiday hunt with the half-price deals that seem to work out as more expensive than when it wasn’t actually in the sale, and me asking if I could buy the holiday package without the sale attached to it so I can have it cheaper!
Oh and this month Bert is taking a well-earned rest (his brain is about to explode from all the technical knowledge he has shared with the assembler programming series?!?), but rest assured he will be back soon. That gives us all time to digest the previous instalments and think of any questions we need answering!
Just to leave I will add that a musical reader contacted me about an article for Commodore Free, so I suggested he write (and I would publish). The result is in this issue for you to read. And finally, we have an interview with With Michal Pleban — Co-Creator of the Commodore MultiMax Cartridge!
Anyway that’s far too long for an editorial, so “Sees you later!”
RECOIL is a viewer for pictures in native formats of Amiga, Atari 8-bit, Atari Portfolio, Atari ST, Atari Falcon, Commodore 64, Macintosh 128K, MSX, SAM Coupé, and ZX Spectrum computers.
Currently the project includes:
RECOIL is also included in the "Formats" IrfanView plugin.
Polish magazine Commodore & Amiga Fan have released issue 9. This is a PDF magazine in the Polish language
Containing the following articles:
News, Franko – The Crazy Revenge, Wings, FIFA World Cup 2014, Times of Wars, The Map (2), Interview: Ryszardem Nazarewskim, Hero Time 2, Vampire Hunter 2, Mega Starforce: Return to the Great Star, Saboteur, V.I.O.S. 2011 – Special Edition, Interview: Bohdana R. Rau, Lotus Turbo Challenge 2, Flappy Bird, Happy Flappy, Commando Arcade, Swords Valdgira II and C64 Persian.
Download it here
Or read it on the Issue website here
RetroWiki is a Spanish retro computer magazine released as a PDF.
In this edition:
Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back.
In a special CommVEx video that premièred at the show, CBM engineer Bil Herd opens up and describes the hardware inside his Commodore LCD laptop computer, one of three still known to exist. To see the video, go to:
Achim Volkers, Trevor 'Smila' Storey and & Sascha 'Linus' Zeidler, the team behind The Vice Squad, have joined forces again and produced an arcade adventure Darkness for the C64. Featuring 100 screens to explore, Darkness takes the character of Adventurer Stan on a perilous journey through a dense tropical jungle, hazardous mountains, and ancient temples as he battles to rescue his beloved Megan!
Soulless for the Commodore 64 is finally back in stock! Available in the Deluxe format only Bomberland, Super Bread Box, The Vice Squad and Assembloids are all available again to buy (after being out of print for the past two months).
All 100 copies of Paul Koller's Micro Hexagon have been shipped and are finally arriving in the hands of Sam Dyer's Kickstarter backers. If you missed out, you'll be pleased to hear that they will be making five spare, unsigned replacement copies
Finally, you might be interested to hear about these forthcoming releases from RGCD:
A Polish Commodore website plans to reprint articles from Commodore Free, translated into Polish language. I was contacted by the site's owner with a view to translating articles into the Polish language, and as I don’t speak Polish, I am unsure how far this has progressed. Should you feel the urge you can view the website here:
The Algorithm releases FRODIGI (Free Running Oscillator Digi) for the Commodore C64. This is a playback utility for digitized sound. It uses the free-running oscillators SID from the SID chip with 3 channels and the volume setting to display the audio. The program can store 4 minutes audio in less than 41 Kbyte
Algorithm presents a single file demo for the c64 that demonstrates a new method of playing back digitized samples..
Download the files from here
Arno Weber has created a new Boulder Dash game after a break of several years. Numbered 21, the game is an addition to the Arno Dash series. There are 16 caves and four international missions. You can download the brand new game from here.
A web page devoted to Commodore 64 game endings, if you have ever wondered how a game ends then it could be on this website.
The latest games' endings added to the site are:
Bomber Country (RGCD / Samar), Dark Lord (Datasoft) Deadly Evil (Players), Morphicle (The Power House), Search for Sharla (Thalamus), Topper the Copper (English Software), Tank (Ocean), Tiger Mission (Keye Line), Thunderbirds (Firebird), Ultima II (Sierra On-Line), Wild Streets (Titus Software), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Buena Vista Software), Yogi Bear & Friends in The Greed Monster (Hi -Tec Software) and Zim Sala Bim (Melbourne House)
Mini-Mag is a German disk based magazine.
In this edition:
Editorial, Forum, Parties, Letters,
Interviews with Sven Scheafer and Cyberno,
Chats and a riddle.
Almost a year ago, [miker00lz] announced a project for the Arduino Device emulating a 6502
This project uses the Arduino DUE to emulate a 6502 computer complete with BASIC interpreter. The Arduino isn’t very powerful, and only has 2k of RAM so the emulation is limited to BASIC. But you can connect a TFT display and program in BASIC with the PETSCII graphics.
Good news for all friends of adventures on the C64!??
Protovision and Out of Order Softworks have a line-up of promising projects. The original version of the graphic adventure Leisure Suit Leo 2 – The Secret of Maniac Island has been released. The limited deluxe edition features the game in both German and English packaged in a large size box, along with an entertaining manual containing background information.
The English version is essentially the same as the original game from the year 1997.
The German version has been remastered and improved and, as a bonus, includes the rare first part of the saga, which had until now only been released in German.
Also scheduled for summer is the release of the D42 Adventure system – a construction set which allows any C64 enthusiast to develop sophisticated graphic adventures in the style of Crime Time or Soul Crystal, without requiring any programming skills. The box includes an editor and a game engine in both German and English, compatible with PAL computers, and an extensive manual in German. An English language version of the manual might appear some day in the far future.
Designer found an old Commodore C64 cartridge but no CRT file available for it online so he created a device that can dump cartridges. He used Arduino connected to the cartridge to read the data and then send the data is to a PC via the USB connection. The diagram for the device and software are available on the website.
Evan is working on a USB adapter for the Commodore C64 keyboard. He uses an interface based on a Olimex-32u4. The C64 keyboard matrix translates signals to USB signals. Evan has also made a few modifications such as the Commodore key and WASD keys combination for the arrow keys.
Possibly the best addition to Vice?
ManoSoft has released a firmware update for his Infinity Tape SD2IEC.
Changes in this version include: save a place holder, unique to each TAP file.. Fixings for successful initialization of the C64SD card, end-of-virtual tape.
Vimfuego is working on what he calls The 16Mhz Reset Switch & ROM Selector
The device is a 100% internal Reset Switch and ROM chooser, However there are no unsightly external connectors on your C64. The switch works by pressing the Restore button, and is based on an Arduino Pro Mini. Vimfuego can program the kit, but of course you do need to install it yourself.
Richard Atkinson has created a video about the Commodore SID chip. Here are his comments:
Exploring the Commodore MOS Technology 8580R5 Sound Interface Device (SID) using a Behringer BCR2000 control surface.
Please see my video on the 6581 after watching this one.
The PC contains a HardSID card which is controlled by a custom piece of software. The Yamaha V50 keyboard is plugged into the PC using MIDI and sends MIDI note on and note off messages. The Behringer BCR2000 control surface is also plugged into the PC using MIDI and sends MIDI controller change (CC) messages. The custom software receives both types of messages and writes SID chip register changes to the HardSID card.
|Genre||Shoot 'em up (SEUCK)|
|Tape Loader||Martin Piper|
Once upon a time, on an alien farmyard lived an adventurer named Drumo. Drumo was resting in his hut, until one day a series of crazy aliens brewed on his farm. Suddenly Drumo realises that his favourite beer farm was ransacked by those crazy aliens from Adventure land. Not very amused at the fact that all that was left was a tiny drop in a barrel, Drumo makes himself a catapult and a large supply of space veg and prepares himself to fend the aliens off.
As Drumo, your mission is to save your beer farm from being invaded by pesky aliens, simply by moving around and catapult your unlimited supply of crazy space veg at them. The aliens will warp out if you feed them space veg, as they do certainly hate it. Can you save your farm from a huge invasion, and save what is left of your beer, or will the aliens have the last of it? Whatever happens, it is up to you to sort out your problems.
Graham has released what he calls a File Integrity tool for the Commodore 128. Yep. I have no idea what it is either.
Hermit has released an update to his SID-Wizard application.
SID-Wizard is a native C64 music editor (tracker) tool for creating music on the Commodore 64
You can download the complete package from here:
From: Chris Syntichakis
Subject: MiST has C64 core!
I hope you are OK.
Just an update you may like to share with your Readers, Till, the guy behind MiST, released the C64 core based on fpga64. Runs quite well (with some bugs that exist on the fpga64 core), There is no 1541 emulation, so runs only one file PRGs via ram injection...
C64 Studio is a .NET-based IDE coding utility written by Georg Rottensteiner
This application supports project based on C64 assembly or Basic V2. The internal assembler used the ACME syntax. When used with the Vice emulator the IDE allows you to debug code and watch variables/memory locations, registers and memory. other emulator can be set up as well.
C64 Studio allows you to compile both raw binary, .prg, .t64, .d64, and cartridge formats (.bin and .crt for 8k and 16k) C64 Studio also comes complete with a charset, sprite and media editor.
A new edition of the German PDF magazine Lotek64 is now available.
The articles in this edition include:
Lo*bert, Editorial, News, C64 Cartridges, Flipper und ihre Wurzeln, DJ Coco / Mario Fangames Galaxy, Commando Arcade C64, The Last Door, Chuck Smith, TIE Fighter, King’s Quest 5, Cosmo’s Cosmic Adventure, Street Art 8-Bit, Echelon – LipStik-Controller, Elektronikmuseum, Commodore Meeting Wien 2014, Chipmusik, SIDologie and Videogame Heroes #15.
Immaculately executed and now up to issue 23, Sceneworld is available for download. Ohh... we are not worthy of such coding perfection. Sceneworld is a well-established disk magazine for the Commodore 64 usable with both Pal and NTSC based magazines and includes
Celebrating 30 years Tetris: Interview with creator Alexey Pajitnov, Vintage Computer Festival 9.1 report by Bil Herd. Lots of Commodorians (Chuck Peddle, Bil Herd and Petro Tyschtschenko!) sharing their inside of working in Commodore. Inventor Adam Dunkels talks about the Internet of Things and the 8bit internet OS: Contiki. Flashback 2014 results, SEUCK Competition 2014 review and Stary Piernik 9 Party Report and much more content to read. Disk cover by Christian Leuenberg.
The group Absence FIFA World Cup Brasil 2014 edition of Indoor Soccer for the Commodore Plus / 4. The original game was released in 1986 by Magnificent Seven for the Commodore Plus / 4. The game can be played on a PAL machine with 64 kilobytes.
Vladimir has released a text editor for the Commodore Plus/4. The editor can use the same keyboard combinations as the default BASIC editor. The editor can load and save SEQ files and has a search function. The program can be used together with SVS Calc to form an Office suite.
Released at Arok party: BSZ and Stinky of NST presented a Commodore Plus/4 with a hardware expansion card that makes it possible to play 50 fps animations and 12 bits 44 kHz music from an SD card. The system is called Evo Lution and you can watch an demonstration on YouTube, but be prepared to have your mind blown away -- the demo is amazing!
No, it's not what you're thinking!
Spidi is working on a new USB adapter so you can use USB keyboards, mice, and joysticks on the Amiga. The adapter converts the USB signals to the Amiga signals. So you don’t need to alter the driver. You can follow the progress on the PPA forum (In Polish language).
Even More for AmigaOS allows your system to view text files.
Support for proportional fonts, multiple colours for text, file conversion plug-ins, and more. Recent changes: Support for Amiga Writer file. Improvements for WordPerfect, StarWriter5, WordWrap, Wordsworth, Final Writer, ProWrite, RTF, Dir2Text, HTML, and Pagestream plugins. And some new Escape codes.
Matthias has created a Picasso II clone for the Amiga 500. The Picasso II was a popular graphics card for the Amiga computers, created by Village Tronic. Georg Braun developed a clone of this for his GBA 1000 Amiga computer. Matthias has adapted this design for the Amiga 500. You can follow the progress on the a1k forum (in German).
Michael Gibs has created Donkey Downfall for the Amiga. The game is based on the Atari 2600 game called Man Goes Down.
Donkey Downfall for Amiga is a game based upon a home-brew title for the Atari Jaguar, which itself was inspired by an Atari 2600 game called Man Goes Down. As you will have gathered, it's a very simple platform affair but one based on falling, rather than jumping. As the platforms scroll up, your task is to stay on the screen without getting squished at the top (or falling to your doom at the bottom).
The game runs in 1VBL on Amiga 500
Tested on Amiga 500, Amiga 500+, Amiga 600, Amiga 1200, Amiga 3000, Amiga 4000 and 060.
Xump is a multi-platform puzzle game created by Retro Guru. The original game was released by Psilocybin Development in 2005. The new version has a more up-to-date look, new levels, music, and new options. There are 9 audio tracks, 48 levels,
This is an advanced Tron/Snake-style arcade game for up to 4 simultaneous players.
Amongst the features are:
Worm Wars has been cover-mounted on a number of Amiga magazines and has won multiple awards, such as the Amiga Survivor Game of the Month, the File Mine 5 Star Award, the Hot-ShareWare.com 5 Star Award, and has made the AmigActive Top Freely Distributable Games List and the Aminet Charts, was awarded 8 stars by webgamelist.com, and is included as part of AmigaSYS. There are, however, a number of clone versions that are not as good!
Back in June 2004 http://www.amigakit.com/ saw its first customers. Now they have reached their 10th anniversary! Although the small remaining Amiga market is not an easy place to trade, AMIGAKIT say they hope to achieve even more for the Amiga and their customers in the next 10 years.
In 2004, the Amiga reseller scene was going through a lot of change, with several retailers across the world either closed down or faded away. Store website inventories were no longer being updated and domains were not being renewed. Slowly, one by one, the choice for consumers dwindled away.
AmigaKit was established as a full time business to (in some way) help buck the trend and provided a professional, reliable service to Amiga users worldwide, who can obtain Amiga products and services without paying over-inflated prices as in well-known auction websites. AmigaKit established full-time technical support service to provide after-sales support and help customers with installation queries.
AmigaKit started developing their own software in-house; titles such as OS-Install, EasyNet, and EasyADF and continue to produce software to this day, including the new AMIStore for A-EON Technology.
In 2006, AmigaKit purchased the remaining inventory from Eyetech and the Amiga product range grew in size, so they moved into new offices in Cardiff. For the very first time, they visited the famous Amiwest show in California and met the many customers there that were up to that point, just names in their system – and not faces and personalities. Exhibiting at shows became a long standing tradition from this point. Attending conventions and shows always is costly but at the same time it is rewarding to personally speak to customers and build friendships on many occasions.
In 2008, the remaining inventory of High Street Micro was also acquired. One problem was that there were no new product being manufactured so AmigaKit had to re-invest revenues into sponsoring hardware and software projects, and encouraging hardware development. Several products were a result of this scheme, including popular products such as the ZorRAM and MAS Player evolution. Most recently AmigaKit have diversified into manufacturing Amiga joysticks such as the Arcade Evolution joystick.
In 2009, they took on another full-time technician so that there was more capacity for Amiga repairs, servicing, and in-house hardware projects. One of the first tasks of the year was to prepare for the AmigaONE X1000 project, involved only from a reseller point of view. Later on in late 2010, the role changed, as AmigaKit had to help get the project back on track.
By 2012, it was clear a large building was needed, and the opportunity came around to buy a property a mile away from the main offices. It required a lot of renovation to meet requirements and the building work presented many challenges during the six months. Once this was complete AmigaKit slowly migrated their operations and inventory from the old building to the new during the summer months
SoundBankster, an audio mixing application for DJ enthusiast is available for download here:
SoundBankster takes advantage of many native and exclusive components of the operating system like the new HID sensors API provided with the 3.6 release of MorphOS. The HID sensors API allows many USB devices like DJ decks to directly drive the application. An internal event mapping editor is provided for easy wiring of the DJ deck controller to the user interface components of SoundBankster. Further using Reggae to load and play audio. Its efficient design allows stutter-less playback even under the worst load conditions.
Morgue Soft has released a new game for AmigaOS3, AmigaOS4, and MorphOS created using Hollywood, and called Los Chinos. This is a classic Spanish game with “guessing” fingers.
Its available in English, Spanish, and Italian language:
Airsoft Softwair announce that the Hollywood Player is now also available for all desktop platforms supported by Hollywood (AmigaOS 3, AmigaOS 4, MorphOS, WarpOS, AROS, Windows, Mac OS PPC & x86, Linux PPC & x86). Although it was originally scheduled for release on June 3, 2006 (and even finished back then) its final publication for desktop systems was postponed again and again, limiting the availability of the Hollywood Player to the Android platform for several years.
But now that the Hollywood Player is finally available for desktop platforms as well, software authors can choose to distribute their programs as Hollywood applets instead of stand-alone executables. The Hollywood Player is now available for free download from the official Hollywood portal for a wide range of architectures and comes with three demo applets to show its capabilities.
A new version GenesisPlus, the Sega Genesis/MegaDrive emulator is available for download. Additions include a preview picture in the main window and thumbnails for the save-state manager .
Also - filters employed to only show valid ROM file names (.cue|.bin|.smd||.sms|.gg) - auto detect of PAL and NTSC ROMs and set audio/video timings accordingly – preview pics in startup window added – thumbnails added to save-state manager.
Download here: http://members.shaw.ca/realstar/genplus/genindex.html
Something for German readers... Boings World podcast episode 53 was released recently and is available for download.
A new version of AROS Vision is now available. AROS is based on concepts and ideas from the Amiga with 68000. AROS supports X86, ARM, PPC and 68k. Changes in this version: Updates:. MUI generous, ROMs, IBrowse, Simple Mail, Digi Booster, Audio Software, File Types and AMOS
A number of people have asked me about this, and because the emulation is now so stable and because it tied in with a feature we looked at a couple of issues ago about using Contiki, and because I was asked how I managed to get such clean screen shots (heck that’s a lot of ANDS in one sentence), I decided I would write up a feature about Vice and internet access (and how I get the screen shots for the magazine).
I am using Windows and will cover the Windows versions, but the process should be similar for other operating systems.
For some time VICE has supported cartridges, and although some are a little more complicated to get running than others, network-capability is a relatively new feature . You can see a list of supported cartridges by clicking on “File”...
Then click “Attach cartridge image”....
Of course you need an image file to attach, but this isn’t about that feature, so I will leave you to play with this yourself. If you want to experiment I found some CRT files or images here:
The first part of using VICE with networking is to download the latest version, although any version from 2.2 onwards supports RR net (as this is what I will focus on – of course the TFE card is also supported). It’s still best to get the latest version, just so you know the bugs have been ironed out, so head over to
Click on the downloads tab and download the newest version to your machine.
For this feature to work VICE will require a “promiscuous mode” network driver. This isn’t part of Windows (the operating system I am using for the tutorial) so we need to download a driver. Head over to http://www.winpcap.org/install/default.htm in order to find an installer for Windows. The software states this is experimental and as always you use this advice at your own risk!
I don’t know about Apple Mac and Linux systems.
After the software has installed reboot your machine before continuing.
This causes the Network controller or card to pass all traffic it receives to the central processing unit (CPU) rather than passing only the frames that the controller is intended to receive. Normally the packets or information not intended for the computer would be dropped or ignored. So in this mode all information is processed.
So with VICE emulator running click on “Settings”...
Then click “Cartridge I/O settings”...
Then click “Ethernet settings”...
Set the Ethernet settings to RR-NET and then select your Ethernet Adapter. WinPcap is fussy about what Wi-Fi adapters it will support, so it's best to hardwire.
First, select the emulation you want to use. In this case it's RR Net so select this from the list. Then on the Interface input select your network card. “OK” any prompts and close any running instances of the VICE emulator.
You now have RR Net set up and ready to use. The next time you start the VICE emulator you may use whatever software you want to network (like Contiki etc.).
As so many have questioned this,
I will play the game on real hardware. Then, when I need a picture for the magazine, I start VICE emulator and load the disk or PRG file. Once the game is under way I use the PRINT SCREEN key and paste the result into MSPAINT in Windows. You can then clip out the parts you need, and copy or save the resultant file. There! You have a perfect screen capture. This is why (on some games) you see I haven’t scored anything. It's because I just started, moved to a position, and Print-Screened the results.
Holding down ALT and pressing “Print Screen” just captures the active window as shown here:
Once passed into Paint, I cut out the bits I need.
There you have it perfect screen grab!
It does sometimes look different on real hardware, as VICE is an emulation, but the trade-off between quality and real hardware for a picture is worth it. For a review you need to play on real hardware!
Wikipedia Promiscuous mode
winpcap promiscuous mode driver
COMMODORE FREE One of the Commodore Free readers wanted to share his love of retro music applications and hardware. I let him have free reign, so here are his comments and pictures to enjoy.
For the Commodore 64, BBC Micro, Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Sony Playstation 2 and PC!
Music. It's lovely and I won't do it but I can't be bothered. But if it wasn't for that, I'd conquer the world...
...that is, until now.
On my travels as a retro dilettante, I've found some forgotten musical toys, with doubtless more to come. But now there are enough studio 'cheat modes', I can con to the end of an entire production without people thinking I'm stupid. And I'd hardly be the first, which makes it OK!
I've already outlined some excellent studio options for the old Commie:
So now it's time to lie back and let the computer do my thinking, just as we were promised in the movies.
My rules in picking these were simple – no musical jargon or knowledge to confuse my little brain, nor the need to spend longer than five seconds reading a manual to get into the flow; though they should need at least SOME input from me. I don't want them doing it all, I'm not THAT bone idle.
All I needed were these and a PC sequencer to be ready. And I know some of these aren't Commie tools but they're still too sweet to ignore. So let's boot a few and begin.
Where I myself began. And it was the springboard to better music on my own initiative, making it a damn fine 'unlock'.
Anyhow, this software for Commodore and Atari machines took the basic premise of the electronic piano roll and turbocharged it. Instant Music was a unique semi-automatic composition sequencer, featuring 'Mouse Jam', which involves playing 'freestyle' with the mouse as the music plays.
What does that mean to me? Well, idly fiddling with it for a few goes, 'til I got something like this: http://www.Concept-Single.net/Cheaters'_Concerto.mp3
I added my drum set and Yamaha synth to compliment the Commodore's nicely gothic sound generation. Of course, the more the user does pick up music and design a track more exactly, the more original the results can be still. That's another big plus, though it does lack more technical MIDI features, such as CC.
Some guy's DIY: www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAa0uif-p2E
And it is original, time after time, in many styles. That is NOT a guarantee in software, even now. This, by far, has to be EA's greatest dumbo 'construction set' program for me. So why not have a go at my own link to it: http://www.dustybin.org.uk/IM.htm
A kind-of forerunner to the Korg Kaossilator, I think, for the Amiga, ST and Apple. Just move your mouse about – a separate octave range for each Axis – and it does its thing. Gliding about and what-have-you. That's literally it. With MIDI out again, to pipe your 'genius' through whatever keyboard, box or computer you like.
Well, there are plenty of details and easy settings on the handy card, but the essential thing is to pick your scale, hold the mouse button to move without play (for pauses or jumps), and you're away. You really will pick it up just like that and have an intuition for how your moves will make it sound.
I got a nice Hammond thing out of it, with synth additions. Another lovely minute-or-two job to fool the punters, and myself. We'll be none the wiser: http://www.Concept-Single.net/Organy_2010-06-13.mp3.
Ah yes, the Amiga's one-finger chord player and accompaniment system, which too carries a MIDI out. To get started on its very basics, just drag and drop the chords you want from the right-hand box to the key display, enable sound or MIDI from one of the menu bars, then play the typing keyboard to get the sounds out.
And on the UAE emulator, you can play chords made of chords on the PC keyboard. Now that DOES super jam my brain!
You can do that or make a whole track with it:
I enjoyed this feature on it from an original episode of THE COMPUTER CHRONICLES too:
Of course, there are also a gazillion different synth and sequencer packages for the Commodore machines, each more colourful and wondrous than the last. But you have to actually do something by your own efforts on them, so I think we'd best put them aside for the time being, eh.
So now we move along to..
Two little BBC Micro programs, one a remarkable real-time synth with Acorn envelope effects and the other a small, yet sweet step time -sequencer.
You don't even need to master time now, this music being two quick doodling examples stuck together: http://www.concept-single.net/BBC1.mp3
The audio-to-MIDI conversion program. Run as a DAW plugin, it notates the sound of your speech, whistling, chip sounds, bass playing, or whatever simple random noises. The program even corrects your pitch to a small degree. You just build up some parts with that and take the rest of the day off! Same as they did on the Fairlight, in the big boy studios!
Plus it's absolutely free. It surely doesn't get much better than this: http://rekkerd.org/fretted-synth/
Some Playstation and PS2 music packages worth checking out. Music 3000 even lets you sample into the Sony itself. Of best note are the World Tour sequencer and Music Maker Rockstar, which allows use of Band Hero controllers as real instruments and MIDI controllers.
Yup, no help there. You have to use your brain here, which should mean you're in the ordure. Though with most of these, you get your backing templates to mix and match; plus the simple 'keytar' nature of the guitar controller saves on all that fiddly strings nonsense.
And believe me, you get far more than you imagine. The Hero sequencer provides for both step and live play, with multi-part support AND pretty good romplers. Plus, the guitar controllers are pretty dark horses too, with amazing results teased out with MIDITAR HERO software, allowing use of them as MIDI instruments on your PC too! Cripes.
Yeah. Listen to this: http://www.Concept-Single.net/Guitar_Hero_harp.mp3
That was my first ever fumbling try, too! And some of these other guys on YouTube aren't bad either. Find them by Googling MIDITAR, download the free software, then start planning that ground breaking concept album you always wanted to do. Or just twiddle with it if you're lazy like me.
If the guys will have me back, I can sort through the freebies for some of the best, most convincing rock and orchestral romplers you can use with these workhorses. Or just some lovely Commie-related ones, with synth software for the original machines.
I can also be found at
with all my favourite micro software.
Gaia has created a version of the C64 chess game Shak for the Commodore Plus / 4. As the player you can alter the difficulty from level 1 to 9. Also implemented is a Load / Save option and an Undo function. The game is for both PAL and NTSC machines but needs 64 Kbytes.
To play you enter the coordinates of the piece you want to move
So let’s say we wanted to move our Pawn located at A1 and we wanted to move it to A3
We enter A1A3 and press enter, the computer then splits this into A1-A3 and moves the piece as the player you always start with White, to change this you press F5 to switch sides.
As chess can take some time to explain I will just sum up with something along the lines of it’s a challenging game for the intellectual.
As a conversion from the Commodore 64 version the game plays exactly the same. It has the same strange options to change screens to a point where the colours are unreadable, but as this existed in the original and this is a true conversion, does that make this a negative or a positive?
The game plays really well and although I don’t consider myself an accomplished chess player, I wouldn’t say I was useless either. The computer plays a challenging match, but can often take some time to come to a conclusion and thus make a move, also there doesn’t seem to be an option where the computer thinks that you are in stalemate, i.e. at a point where no one can win and will just continue moving pieces around.
Original Commodore 64 version
Learn to play chess:
Rules of chess:
Released by: Iceout
The idea of the game is to roll the ball to the goal while avoiding holes and collecting bonuses in 17 challenging levels. If you hit the flags you get bonus points, but hitting or rolling into a hole loses a life and you start the level over again. Its like Tilt that came installed on some Android phones. You may also remember old wooden Labyrinth type of game with a rotary knob control. Sadly this version seems to have the physics all wrong.
To “TILT” the table you push left right up or down on the joystick, and the ball moves. Also, holding the fire button makes the ball move slower, supposedly to aid you. On the left side of the score panel is an indicator with dots showing the current direction the ball is rolling.
To add to the “excitement” you have a bonus. The bonus starts at 99 and slowly counts down to 1. It is added to your score when reaching the goal, so the quicker you get the ball to the goal the more points you score.
Sadly, because of the physics and basic graphics the game is almost unplayable.
I don’t like hammering into a game like this but it just doesn’t work well enough to warrant better scores. It could do with a lot more development, and would be amazing if it actually resembled the wooden game with the screen changing to show the tilt direction in a sort of 3d style. Sadly it is what it is!
Psytronik Software & RGCD
|Artwork / GFX||Trevor Storey|
|Concept / Design||Trevor Storey|
|Music / SFX||Linus|
|Packaging / Testing||Jason Kenz|
|Additional Testing||David Simmons|
|Tape Mastering||Richard Bayliss|
|Tape Loader Source||Martin Piper|
|Psytronik logo||Steve STE'86 Day|
El Guato, a Mexican drug baron, is expanding his empire to your city. He is ruthless and dangerous and must be stopped at all costs. You are Captain James Hutch, and you've never dealt with a villain this powerful before, but that won't stop you from bringing his empire to it's knees!
The Vice Squad is split into 9 separate sub-missions. You will be given a briefing at the start of each mission and must carry out the instructions in order to complete the level. If the level contains a boss encounter (i.e. gun, truck, or tank) you must negotiate the level for a certain amount of time before the boss battle begins (the music will change and the boss will appear).
Certain enemies will drop a power-up when they are destroyed. Once collected they will increase the weapons on your vehicle. The power-ups are as follows:-
THE VICE SQUAD is an Achim Volkers / Trevor Storey production. © 2013.
Published on disk / tape & digital download by www.psytronik.net
Published on 64KB C64 cartridge by www.rgcd.co.uk
All Rights Reserved.
While the loading screen points to something exciting, for this reviewer, the excitement factor soon faded, but as the music starts to kick in you get a feeling of the Miami vice duo – who were they? – Crockett and Tubbs? Oh, I shudder to think about this program.
Pressing the fire button takes you to the high scores table and the excitement really starts to pump you up. It's clear that Miami Vice has had an influence on the game, as the characters show very much like Tubbs and Crocket, with the screens' music sounding like some sort of acid disco rave – it's warbling and dancing all over your mind. Truly this is an excellent SID music rendition, and it reminds me of something like Thomas Dolby – must be the squealing lead sound. Of course I could be alone in my deduction of this. However, playing the music on some Hi-Fi speakers and friends thought it was a commercial release and asked what it was called (so they could buy/ download the music!)
The music is almost too mesmerising, and you have to force yourself to go on and push past the hypnotic sounds... and into the game.
From then on, for this reviewer at least, things go downhill................
Well, for me it was something like when I played Ghostbusters for the first time – its endless driving along roads and seemingly getting nowhere.
Things just seem way too monotonous, The graphics look average, the music seems to have dropped down in coolness by some steps, and we are left with something more average than exceptional. It's nothing new; just drive and shoot. It actually resembles something more from a SEUCK programmer than what I was expecting. You have to shoot a set number of black cars or motor bicycles in level 1 to complete the level, and pushing right on the joystick while holding fire seems to be the way to do it with your eyes closed. Then it's back for a briefing for our next mission, then back to more driving. Each level has a different mission to carry out .
If you were ever a Spy Hunter fan then you may find this game entertaining; for everyone else it does tend to get quite boring. Sorry, I know it’s harsh and some of the music is amazingly stunning; however the overall game lacks the important game play.
Some of The audio is mind bending, truly superb work, but the in-game music is average and the game play matches this with similar spec graphics; overall just an average release. Some will love this but I suspect others will rate it mediocre. Also worthy of note is the Richard Bayliss loading tune on the tape version.
Erm, so it’s a load of SEUCK games in a collection.
Well, to be fair, in the right hands SEUCK can produce some very credible games – if you mix into this the genius SEUCK designer Alf Yngve and Richard Bayliss to customise the front end and add musical compositions. You could have something of a bargain with this collection.
The disk version has a nice front end, but with the amount of games it had to be split onto 2 disks. But hey! That’s value, isn’t it?
The tape version is just a collection of Tap files which seems sensible as you would be fast-forwarding and rewinding forever, but isn’t that the fun of tapes, especially when these types of collections appeared back in the day? The PRG version is just that – a collection of PRG files.
The disk version is annoying as once a game is loaded you cant get back to the menu without resetting the machine and loading it back up. Some sort of “Quit to Menu” option would have been most welcome here, but I guess that would break the SEUCK code.
On the disk version it’s another credible music intro from the techno master Richard Bayliss (very thumping and pounding music).
Zap'em all, collect stars, and fly to glory in this tribute to the arcade classics from the 1980s!
Fly across the alien landscape, shoot enemies, and collect stars to boost your ship. When the screen flashes, press SPACE to trigger a Smart Bomb.
Just a simple top-down scrolling shoot-em-up with power-ups and a great number of enemies to shoot down, with various enemies' flight patterns to learn. It’s a credible game in its own right, and the power ups add to the game and, of course, increases your fire-power. Just don’t crash as you will lose all the power-ups and be back to your basic firepower.
You are an elite commando, trapped behind enemy lines. Fight your way to the airport, steal a gunship, and fly to freedom.
You start out armed only with a knife. Better weapons will be parachuted to you on the way. When the screen flashes, press SPACE to trigger an air strike.
Once you reach the gunship you switch to a flying sequence.
(NOTE: You do not score bonus lives during play, but you start the flying sequence with several new lives.)
Richard Bayliss tries to create the classic Ocean loading screen – with a twist, and it seems to work really well for this loading screen. The game sees you running right to left fighting off enemy attackers. Nice touches are the tanks, and you have to climb to kill the enemies, and of course the fighting dogs (although I don’t condone killing animals – I suppose it's fine in a game especially as they are enemies). Various power-ups fly down in hard-to-reach areas, adding to the game's playability.
America lies in ruins, under the iron fist of Sara Stalin. Can the lone cyborg warrior BARAKON stop her? Yes he can!
Barakon starts out armed with his fists. For every 10,000 points scored, he will gain an extra life and a power boost. Speed and agility will ensure your victory!
Interesting choice of music; not sure it fits with the game, although the drum beating (I suppose) adds to the Army feel in this game, but again another credible tune, superb loading screen, although it looks uncannily like a real president from America. You fight the enemies in this top down scroller moving over various terrains; watch out for the mental solders in red dropping land mines (ouch)
You are a secret agent in an armed super-car, hunted by enemy spies across the highways. Drive fast, drive hard!
Your joystick controls both your car and a gun-sight. The gun-sight can shoot down enemy helicopters.
NOTE: The enemy has jamming trucks which may paralyse your gun-sight control – shoot them on sight! Bonus pick-ups (marked "B") will give you a Smart Bomb (triggered by the SPACE bar).
Not too bad really. It’s a top-down Spy Hunter-style game, and if anything this does suffer from “too much on screen” syndrome and SEUCK cant handle too many things at once so it slows down. It's quite noticeable on this game, but doesn’t really destroy it. The loading screen and music are amazing and the “Get Ready” dancing squares are very cool, simple but effective; not sure how they tie in with the game though. The in-game music doesn’t seem to fit; it's OK but in the wrong game. Bonuses to collect and clever split-screen game play make this stand out from the mediocre – but only just.
One commando versus an army! Take 'em all on and free the hostages in this tribute to OPERATION WOLF.
You control a gun-sight and must shoot the enemies before they can hit you. For every 10,000 points scored, a life is awarded.
Oh, this is interesting, again. The splash screen and intro music are super cool, the in-game has a gun sight, and the terrain scrolls from left to right as various enemies appear, with a helicopter and various army dudes intent on killing you. Some have bullet proof vests, but they do still die! You move the gun sight and press Fire. Not too taxing, and it would be better if you controlled the scrolling and could go both left and right, but we are stuck in the SEUCK limitations here. In-game sounds are just the gunfire.
Blast off and destroy the Insectoid Empire! The Tau Zeta Squadron is at your command.
You control two groups of spaceships. The first group fires forward, while the second group can fire in six directions. Each time you destroy an Insectoid nerve centre (a giant head or eye), you gain an extra life.
Great loading graphics and music make way for a very interesting graphical game, basically a right to left shooter, but you have control of 4 ships. Well, they all move at the same time and you can't move them individually but you can shoot left, right, up, and down – and will need to. The in-game music has been used by Richard a number of times, something more “stylised” and/or experimental would have been far better for the game, but hey! It is what it is. The game looks familiar as something that would have been on a £2:99 label but I can't seem to place it in my mind.
An interesting collection of games for the SEUCK fan. If you are not a fan of this game construction set then you won't really be interested and I don’t think it would convert you. All the games are better than average SEUCK games, and stand out from a lot of the dross that’s out there. Well-executed and customised front ends, with great music and graphics. Easy to pick up game play gets you into the action quickly, and make this collection well worth the price!
Q. Please introduce yourself to our readers
My name in Michal Pleban and I am a startup entrepreneur from Poland.
Q. How were you first introduce to Commodore and Computing in general
I obtained my first computer in 1988, a year before the Iron Curtain fell. I was 8 years old at that time.
It was not very easy to obtain computers in the then “Communist countries”, so my father smuggled the machines in for me from Germany, first I had a Commodore 64, then a Plus/4 and a 1570 disk drive. A lot of computers arrived into Poland that way. There was also some official trade, but you needed dollars or other hard currency to buy them, and with the struggling economy of the Communist countries, our currencies were very weak so computers were really expensive to purchase. The cost of the machines was also the reason we still worked mostly on 8 bit computers at the time when the Western world was already switching to 32 bit ones – they were simply too expensive for us at that time.
It all started to change rapidly in 1989 when the borders were open, and within few years the economy and currency exchange rates were stabilized enough that we pretty much caught up with the rest of the developed world with regard to computing.
Due to some political and historical reasons, the Polish market was dominated by Atari 8 bit computers. Atari’s were made with SECAM video output, so we did not need to modify the television set to connect a computer. I was the lone guy with a Commodore, but I did not complain – I was happy to have a computer at all :-) Shortly after 1989 the country switched to PAL broadcasting so this became a non-issue.
Q. Some reader may not be aware of the Commodore Max can you explain what the device was
Yes, The Commodore MAX was a game console. You can think of it as a half of the C64. Everything that was not necessary was thrown away – BASIC and KERNAL ROM, IEC interface and the CIA chip that supported it, User Port etc. You were just left with the VIC, SID, CPU, 2 kB of RAM, two joystick ports and a tape port, plus of course the expansion port where the game cartridges are inserted. This allowed Commodore to reduce the price dramatically, while still retaining the fabulous graphic and sound capabilities needed for games.
Also Since a game console does not need a keyboard that much; Commodore replaced the standard C64 keyboard with a membrane type, this also helped to cut the costs.
The machine was introduced in Japan shortly before the C64.
Q. So was it a big selling device for Commodore our would you consider the machine a flop
Sadly The machine did not sell well, mainly because it competed directly with the VIC-20 at the same price point, the VIC-20 already had a considerable software library and much better expansion capabilities. So it was quickly pulled from the market in Japan and never introduced elsewhere, that is why it is so rare today.
Q. So What were the benefits or negatives of the machine
The machine provided superior graphic and sound capabilities compared to other computers at that time, and at a fraction of price of the C64 – that was really a plus. But it was also hindered by very limited RAM and no expansion possibilities. the keyboard is absolutely awful to use as well.
A story goes that; the C64 was built with a compatibility mode with the Commodore MAX so that unsold game cartridges for the MAX could be reused in the C64, saving some money for the company. Since the internal memory architectures of these computers are quite different, this mode changes the behavior of the C64 considerably, allowing for a variety of hacks including freezer and KERNAL replacement cartridges. I think this is a huge, though indirect, benefit for the Commodore community :-)
Q. So the Multimax cartridge contains games that were released for the Max system, how are the games accessed from the cartridge?
There is a menu accessible at reset, where you can select the game you want by pressing a key on the keyboard, or navigating with a joystick or paddle. For each game, icons are shown indicating whether it is operated with a joystick, paddle, or keyboard, and a scroller with basic instructions for the game. Once a game selection is confirmed, (by pressing the space or joystick button), the game starts to play.
We deiced to fit a reset switch so that you can start a new game without power-cycling the computer.
Q. Who created the device and what was the process, for example how long did the design take, and how do you test a cartridge like this, (can a soft cartridge be created)
The device was created by Rob Clarke, a Commodore fan living in Switzerland, and myself. It started from a discussion on the cbm-hackersailing list, where I posted some questions about the MAX I had recently obtained. Rob replied that he was a MAX owner too, and was interested in having a cartridge with all the games released for that machine (the original cartridges are even harder to find than the computers themselves).
So we started the cooperation, exchanging ideas via email. Rob built a prototype on a breadboard, showing that the design is feasible, and I created the prototype PCB. From then on, I focused mostly on hardware and Rob on software.
Q. How long from start to finish did the project take and who worked on it
It was a side project for both of us, so it took about half a year to develop the cartridge. This included mailing the parts back and forth between Switzerland and Poland, waiting for PCB manufacturing, and delays due to our main job assignments.
Apart from Rob and myself, there was a music composer nicknamed "Yogi" involved who wrote the music for the menu – we needed this help because we’re both quite bad at SID music. Several people from the cbm-hackers mailing list supplied ideas, and Ruud Baltissen was kind enough to create the Commodore cartridge PCB template we used. And of course all of this would not be possible without the work of Pete Rittwage and Mat Allen who dumped and preserved all the MAX cartridge ROMs and made them available for download.
Q. So it’s thanks to the community, what would you say were the hardest obstacles while creating the cartridge?
First of all, obtaining a MAX was quite an obstacle, because as they are quite rare and generally only available in Japan :-) Then, I would say the next biggest problem was overcoming the differences between the MAX and C64. They are not fully compatible – some signals are different on the expansion port, and even if they are the same, the timings are sometimes different because the MAX has a very different PLA chip than the C64. It took us several hardware revisions to get it all right and ensure that the cartridge runs correctly on both machines.
It was also quite challenging to fit all the chips in a standard C64 cartridge case, because we settled on using only TTL chips. Designing the logic so that only two TTL gate chips were used gave us some headaches. :-)
For a batch of cartridges we found out that we had some defective RAMs, which escaped our testing procedures because the errors revealed only under some specific conditions. Rob volunteered to unsolder the faulty RAMs and I still feel sorry for him about that.
Q. What hardware will run the cartridge run on?
The cartridge will run on the Commodore MAX of course, but also on the standard C64, SX-64 and C128 computers because the cartridge port is compatible. This enables the owners of these popular machines to enjoy all the MAX games.
Q. Could someone build their own cartridge, if so how would this be achieved, I notice you have a schematic and Rom to download from the website
I have put an Eagle PCB file for download too, so anyone can create their own cartridge now. However, since we source cases, chips and PCBs in Poland where they are much cheaper, the price advantage of building the cartridge on your own may not be that big.
Q. You sell a completed version, how much is this and are they available to order from stock or individually manufactured
The completed version is sold for $29.95 plus shipping, and we have several dozen in stock currently.
Q. What comments or feedback have you received from the commodore community
We had one negative comment about the quality of the product case and PCB being only "adequate" and not top-notch. This is understandable, as we wanted to create a cartridge for the masses, not for the classes. :-) Apart from that, the feedback was very positive, and generally the fans who bought the cartridge love it. For many people, it allowed them to play some of these games for the first time since 25 or 30 years, so it brings a lot of warm feelings and nostalgia.
Q. Is there much of a Max community especially as the hardware is so rare?
The hardware is very rare, it's hard to think of a very active community, but I heard of people in Germany writing some new software for the MAX. There could be probably some kind of community in Japan as it is the country where the most of these machines are found today, but unfortunately my lack of Japanese language abilities prevents me from checking this out.
Q. Do you plan any other hardware or software products
We both have some other projects going on, unfortunately the lack of free time is often hindering them. I am a huge fan of CBM-II machines so currently I am working on a RAM expansion for them. Rob recently finished a restoration project of a Commodore V364, also a very rare machine based on the 264 range with built-in speech capabilities designed by Bil Herd. With a vocabulary of more than 260 words, it is capable of saying "gurple", apparently a big deal for Commodore engineers at that time :-)
Q. Going back to the Multimax How many have you sold
We have sold over 30 pieces so far, both on our Internet website www.MultiMax.com and on vintage computing meet-ups.
Q. finally do you have any comments you would like to add and thank you for your time
Thank you for the interest in the cartridge. I hope it will bring more knowledge of this rare and interesting Commodore machine to your readers.