Civilization ported to 8-bit Commodore 64

Civilization was one of the classic games of the 16-bit age, when computers with speedy processors and hundreds of kilobytes of RAM made it possible to model and memorize complex, culture-bound simulations of human history. Twenty years on, though, it's been ported back to a humble 8-bit system that predated it by years. The genius behind the conversion is Fabian Hertel, and it's not just a mockup: a fully playable demo is available to enjoy. 8-bit Civ runs on Commodore 64 and, while reduced in scope, features cities, units, AI opponents, scientific advances and wonders of the world.

8 Bit Civilizations (working title) has understandably been reduced in scope from the original PC and Amiga versions. For example you can play against a maximum of 3 AI opponents (or 2 if barbarians are enabled), and the world map is not as large. However even in its current state, the game is every bit as fun as the original, and even includes some innovative new features. Such as you may chose the gender of your nation's leader, so if you choose to play the English nation, you be Henry VIII as well as Elizabeth I.

The game board is played from an isometric perspective, a feature which wasn't added in the original line of games until Civilization II (1996).

It clearly doesn't shy much from the game's complexity. Check out the traditionally numbing endgame going on in the screenshot below! Read the rest

Dial-a-Grue: play Zork with nothing but an old phone

The first iteration of Dial-a-Grue, in 2011, was to kit out an old rotary dial phone with an embedded computer and text-to-speech engine so that you could play Zork with nothing but the handset. The new, 2.0 version of the project, is "to port Zork I (via a z-code interpreter) to an embedded platform, and enclose that and an old modem inside a telephone, so that the game can be played from a teletype, TDD, or old computer with an acoustically coupled modem." (via JWZ) Read the rest

Last Word: addictive browser game for word-slingers

Last Word is another instantly enslaving browser game from Bennett Foddy (of QWOP and Sportsfriends fame). Use the arrow keys to move a letter around the screen: if you collide with one of the other letters flying around, they join to form part of a word. All you have to do is make the longest legit word possible, winning points, then start over to rack up the score a la Scrabble. If you join letters that can't be extended to form a dictionary word, it's game over. Read the rest

Namco founder dies

You can thank Japanese game publisher Namco for Pac-Man, Galaga, Pole Position, Splatterhouse, Rolling Thunder, Soul Calibur and Tekken. And you can thank Masaya Nakamura, who died last week, for Namco.

During the decades following World War II, the rooftops of Japanese department stores were home to family friendly rides and carnival-style analogue arcade games. Namco got it start making such amusement machines. In the late 1970s and early 80s, Nakamura’s business took off with arcade hits like Galaxian, Galaga, Pole Position, and Xevious. However, it was Pac-Man that wasn’t only the biggest Namco hit of that era, but also of the most important Japanese video games ever made.

Pac-Man is, according to the Guinness book of World Records, still the most successful coin-op of all time.

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Update: dupe! Read the rest

Masaya Nakamura, "father of Pac-Man," RIP

Masaya Nakamura, the founder of Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company (Namco) who unleashed Pac-Man fever on Japan and the United States, has died at age 91. Under his leadership, Namco built its business on Galaxian (1979) and Pac-Man (1980) and later console games like Ridge Racer (1983) and Tekken (1994). In 2007, the Japanese government honored Nakamura with an "Order of the Rising Sun" decoration. From Ars Technica:

Nakamura originally founded the company as Nakamura Manufacturing, selling coin-operated children's rides to a department store in Yokohama, Japan. He later changed the name of the company to Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company (NAMMCo!) and began producing electromechanical arcade machines like 1976's Namco F-1.

Namco hit the big time when Nakamura shrewdly purchased the struggling Atari Japan from owner Nolan Bushnell for $500,000—far higher than the $80,000 offered by Sega. The deal granted Namco an exclusive license to distribute Atari's games in Japan for ten years and led to the development and release of original games such as Gee Bee and Galaxian.

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A lively history of DRM and gaming

17 minutes of funny and informative notes from the history of DRM from Lazy Game Reviews, starting with Bill Gates's infamous Open Letter to Hobbyists and moving through to the modern era with its activation codes, rootkits and scandals. (Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest

Play "The Founder" a dystopian startup business simulation

I'm playing Francis Tseng's dystopian startup business simulation called "The Founder." It's a bit like The Sims, but the goal is to run a successful startup. The game is played on your browser, no download required.

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How to roll dice in space

The microgravity of space would really put a damper on your dice games. You roll them and they don't land. The 3D Printing Professor has a fun solution. Space Dice (via Adafruit)

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Bake: a pixel-art Mario pie for National Pie Day

Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin (aka @ThePieous) writes, "It is National Pie Day in America tomorrow (not to be confused with "International Pi Day" - the cooler big cousin of pie holidays on March 14th...) In honour of this occasion I've posted a new tutorial video that is very attainable for any novice pie-geeks out there thinking about whipping something up nifty. It features our favourite 8 bit plumber hero, with a special guest appearance at the end." Read the rest

I rolled these hand-forged metal dice hundreds of times. How fair are they?

Rough metal dice, fresh off the forge! Dice so heavy and clunky and sharp you can ruin tables and kill cheats without brandishing a dagger. But is this ren-faire fun fair play? I decided to put them to the test and see how random they were. I'm not great at math, so I'll just show my method and results and you can do the judging. Read the rest

Portal for the Apple ][+, //e and related systems

Vince Weaver is reimplementing Portal -- "the cake acquisition simulator released in 2007" -- to the Apple II series of computers, bit by bit -- inspired by the fact that the Apple II hires mode has "the perfect Aperture Science orange and blue colors." He's released a disc image of the game in Apple Basic, as well as sourcecode. Read the rest

Manifold - a pad a 100 origami puzzles

I think someone on the BBS mentioned that Manifold was a fun origami puzzle challenge (thank you, whoever you are!). I ordered it on Amazon for $8. It's a pad of 100 square sheets of paper, printed with white and black squares on one side, and nothing (except folding guides) on the other side. The object is to fold each sheet so that all the white squares are on one side, and all the black ones are on the other. I just did two of them, and it was so much fun that I'm saving the rest for a long flight I have coming up.

Here's a PDF you can print out to try five puzzles. Read the rest

Super Retro-Boy plays real carts

Super Retro-Boy is a compact, minimal reimplementation of Nintendo's classic Game Boy with the look as well as the tech. It plays real cartidges, including those from the full-color Game Boy Advance—presumably this is why there are four buttons. It gets 10 hours on a charge, and will come with a 10-in-1 game from Retro-Bit this summer. Read the rest

How Shigero Miyamoto, legendary creator of Zelda and Mario Bros., designs a game

"I think that it was in my generation that people who made video games really became designers rather than technologists," Shigero Miyamoto says.

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This NES Classic jailbreak is a perfect parable of our feudal future of disobedient dishwashers

Nintendo's nostalgic instant sellout NES Classic (still available from scalpers) only comes with 30 games and no way to add more: but it only took two months from the announcement date for intrepid hackers to jailbreak the device and come up with a way to load your favorite ROMs, using a USB cable and a PC.

German gamer angry

I don't know what this young fellow is saying in in this shooter game, but one presumes that the war isn't going well for him. (Previously.) Read the rest

The 20 games you shouldn't miss in 2016

Since I last presented a year-end videogame wrap-up for Boing Boing readers, it's become an exponentially harder task. The number of games released per day has - even just since 2014! - risen a few times over, so narrowing a list down means leaving amazing and creative work behind. That's not even to mention the herculean task of staying on top of the pile of games still unplayed.

2016 gave us a generous amount of powerhouse titles hoisted by massive budgets and massive marketing efforts: hello Overwatch, Dark Souls III, Doom, No Man's Sky, Pokémon Sun & Moon, and especially Uncharted 4. But I did my best to wander the far corners of the internet, searching and sometimes blindly stumbling upon weird, beautiful, thoughtful videogames.

Below you'll find 20ish games (actually quite a good number more) that sang to me the most, and I think exemplify the best that 2016 had to offer. You'll find interesting places to explore, unique achievements and re-inventions of old standards, and brilliant ideas executed simply. I hope you find them as surprising and delightful as I did.

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Beglitched

by A.P. Thomson & Jenny Jiao Hsia • Get it: Windows/Mac/Linux

Beglitched is, on its face, a fairly simple match-3 type game, on the same family-tree branch as Bejeweled or Candy Crush or any other number of similar clones you may have spent all your idle moments thumbing around with on your phone over the past few years. Read the rest

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