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I Would Totally Get Castle Crashers
Sep 9th, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Castle Crashes is a new little beat-em-up for the Xbox 360. And I would totally get it. There are only two real problems. The first is that I now have a 360 backlog. I want to finish Braid. I want to get… er, farther in Space Giraffe. I haven’t even seen 5% of what there is in Dead Rising. I also purchased Bionic Commando: Rearmed, because people over at Caltrops seemed to be having fun with it.

A backlog! On a system I just bought. This is in addition to the non-gaming backlog around there, which involves getting a vacuum cleaner that works more than three times (seriously, it’s easier to fucking kill Dracula than it is to buy a reliable vacuum cleaner in this country) addressing the fact that my cat has turned every wooden surface into his own personal scratching post (if we did kill Dracula at home, this cat would be disintegrating the stake in like two minutes) and finding a permanent solution to the orb spider-brimming hedges in the front lawn (orb spiders attract bats, which, well, you can see where I am going with this).

I don’t think that there is a chance that the Castle Crashers devs are reading this, but if they do encounter this post, I’d just like to say that the game is adorable, is a very amusing button masher in a world it never knew, and — from the demo — it definitely seems to be worth fifteen bucks. No question.  

There’s been some discussion about the higher prices for Xbox Live Arcade games, and honestly, since I purchase the “points” in $25 blocks, as long as the games aren’t costing more than that, I don’t care. If they get to be like $30, then I — the gamer! — have to step up and buy fifty bucks worth of Xbox Points, and I’d like to start a family someday. That ain’t going to happen if I find myself having long conversations about “Xbox Points,” for Christ’s sake. So, anyway, when I get sick of one of the other 360 games I have, Castle Crashers is next, and that’s the highest praise I can give a demo. (There are also some problems with on-line play, so this gives me and them some time to work on our issues.)

The other thing I had for this post, which isn’t specific to CC (which lets you play a long time in demo mode) was regarding just how little time you get in the demo for Robotron 2084. Maybe it’s just because the game is ridiculously addicting, but it stops after the second level, which even a hoof-handed sped like me can get through. I can’t keep going back to the demo because I am going to drop five bucks on the game “just to have it” on the 360. Yet, the 360 gamepad’s analog controllers are frigging primed for Robotron. I must have ten systems that will play Robotron. If they had let you play a couple more levels into it, I’d remember how terrible I am at the game and this feeling would deflate, but they are far too clever for that. So, good, although evil, work with that demo, too.

jrok’s Williams FPGA… in development!
Aug 27th, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

If you are like me, you acquire arcade games. Let’s just stop with that. You are probably not like me, going forward from here, but we’ll try to keep things interesting and geeky from here.

If you are like me, and acquire arcade games, you do so while praying to a deity that the circuit boards won’t die. In my own case, I have ensured that this IS the case because I only recently learned how to check voltages. (+5 getting to the game’s printed circuit board fixed my issues with Mr. Do!, Arkanoid and Zoo Keeper – that’s a 30% fix in my arcade right there.)

The circuit boards are the real treasure in an arcade game, because almost everything else can be — or is! — getting reproductions. Scratch up the side art on a game? Stencils or giant “stickers” exist. Mess up the monitor? You can put a brand-new one in, most likely. But yeah, if the circuit board develops problems the average collector is at the mercy of others.

So that’s why FPGA boards like what jrok is developing are so cool – he’s putting Defender, Stargate, Joust, Robotron, Bubbles, Splat, Sinistar and Blaster onto a single board. It uses real hardware, so nothing is emulated (more on that in a sec). This is going to give people the chance to avoid circuit board issues and still have a great multi-game kit. It’s also going to have a JAMMA interface, which will be really convienent for, er, people like me who have a JAMMA cab.

I don’t even know if Williams (the manufacturer of all those games) are particularly troublesome to live with – for all I know, they could be rock-solid. But it would definitely cost me a lot more in space and, er, cost a lot in money to get access to those games. And I am completely out of space. jrok also has the things saving high scores, so at $150 for the board, this will be perfect.

(OK, a note about emulation: it’s fine, it’s cool, and I have emulated games on my 48-in-1, which I love. But yeah, emulation through MAME can get you close, but something genuinely running the game is always going to be ideal. That being said, I’d like to get a Robotron cab, and having the controls for Robotron (two joysticks) on the same panel as Stargate (a two-way joystick and like six buttons) always looks like a mess, so I am not sure how I am going to personally work this.)

jrok is sending the board out to testers soon, and I’ll report back when I purchase one.

 

 

 

 

 

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