Last year, in celebration of International Tabletop Day, the British Museum did several videos of Merlin the Magician, er... Irving Finkel, the Assistant Curator of Ancient Mesopotamian script, talking about and playing The Royal Game of Ur, an over 4-millennium-old game from Mesopotamia.
Finkel has spent the lion's share of his life trying to decipher the history and rules of this ancient, 2-person racing game. The museum had a copy of the board (which Finkel made a replica of as a child), but had no idea which rules set went with it. Fortuitously, among the museum's 3500 clay tablets, Finkel eventually managed to uncover an analysis of the game, written by a Mesopotamian astronomer, and from there was able to reverse engineer the rules (and matched the rules to the mysterious gameboard artifact in the museum's collection).
There are some interesting mechanics here, including using 4-sided dice that have two white tips. An upright white tip counts as a 1. The Royal Game of Ur looks really fun, and surprisingly exciting to play. Finkel points out that it's the kind of game that, when one player falls behind the other, it actually gives them a momentary advantage and that creates a kind of back and forth, quickly changing fortunes dynamic that makes for a tense game. Finkel also points out that the original board had a built-in drawer to house the dice and playing pieces, a design that's still used in chess and other boards over 4,000 years later. Read the rest
Back in 2012, we published a feature about Frank Cifaldi, one of the world's leading collectors of rare vintage videogames and related ephemera. Since then, Cifaldi founded the Video Game History Foundation, dedicated to preserving this vibrant art form's history and culture for the ages.
(Vice) Read the rest
The semi-independent Oregon Tourism Commission has created a playable version of the classic Apple ][-era adventure game Oregon Trail to promote Oregon tourism.
Read the rest
Andi McClure's emu-coop is an emulator hack that brings two-player fun to Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, and Legend of Zelda for the NES. It works by enabling players to share in-game inventory over the Internet.
emu-coop (GitHub via Waxy) Read the rest
Commodore's C64 had a famously decisive, if drab set of 16 colors to choose from, a note of artistic intent amid the unthinking mathematical extremities of other 8-bit color palettes. But did you know there were secret colors? Aaron Bell writes up a discovery that blew his mind many years ago and which, 26 years later, he's finally figured out.
If you swap two colours rapidly enough - say at 50 or 60 frames per second - you can fool the eye into seeing something that isn't there. On a machine with sixteen colours, just one or two extra can add a lot to a scene. Since today we all live in the future and you are reading a fully programmable document on a supercomputer, let's try it.
The sad part is that the trick doesn't work for most pairings due to the obvious strobing/flickering effect it generates. But now wily coders can add a whole host of new grays to their vivid Commodore palettes. ("The tartan for the clan McPuke" is definitely the best description of the C64 palette I've ever read. I doubt it'll be topped.)
I read somewhere this is more or less what's done on cheapo monitors to make you think you're getting 24-bit color.
Previously: How the hell did they get 1024 colors out of a 1981 PC? Read the rest
Nintendo's miniature re-release of the NES is, it seems, another one of those several-games-in-one nostalgia toys. But it's a good one, with 30 classic titles, the same great design in miniature, and compatibility with modern wireless controllers. It'll be out November 11 for $60. Read the rest
The 64 is a crowdfunded rebuild of the classic Commodore 64, to ship with an as-yet-unannounced collection of games and software from the beloved gaming platform. Read the rest
The makers of the Coleco Chameleon retro console wanted $2m to manufacture it—and raised more than $80,000 in an Indiegogo campaign. Read the rest
The design perfectly transmutes the cheap minimalist beauty of the classic ZX Spectrum home computer into a unique handheld game console. But does the ZX Vega capture the experience of the early 80's machine?
Indie Retro News reviews it and finds it well-worth your £99, so long as you know what you're getting: a weird British contraption from the early 80s, and only the game-related features of it at that.
Read the rest
Hardcore Speccy fans may have been shouting to have room for expansion but, it's plain to see that this is not what it's about. If you look at this at what it's meant to be, a handheld Speccy to play games on, you can't got far wrong. I agree that you can't beat the original Speccy, the same goes for any original computer but as a pick-up-and-play, it fits perfectly.
GameDock is an iPhone dock that comes with game controller ports. Kyle Orland:
Read the rest
"At $125 per Dock (plus the cost of an iOS device), the GameDock at first looks a bit less attractive than the $99 Ouya, which is self-contained. But the creators note the power of Apple's iOS devices and the existing library of proven, working games as benefits, and say they think keeping the TV interface separate from the actual mobile platform is actually the better way to go."
As I somehow missed this fantastic intro to a nonexistent 8-bit Zardoz game last year, perhaps you did, too! Animator Nick Criscuolo writes: "I realize the audio isn't entirely 8bit, more like 8/16 bit. Maybe more like Amiga game music than Atari or Nintendo. I just couldn't imagine it without the Zardoz voice." [VIDEO LINK. Submitted by jeans] Read the rest