Dec 26, 2006

The HiSaturn Navi

Now, that's one for the Saturn Junkyard: the HiSaturn Navi, a ridiculously expensive SEGA Saturn, GPS navigation system, Karaoke, LCD portable device (sold separately) and MPEG player combo by none other than Hitachi.

The machine -amazingly difficult to find, as days of ebay, amazon and even google searching have proved- is as elusive as ...uhm... something particularly elusive, and even if great Cthulhu decided to grant you one, you might have to pay something close to 2000$. You would then of course get one of the rarest consoles of video gaming history and a fully working example of the best gaming tech 1995 had to offer (provided of course Gabriel Knight II wasn't your kind of game). Rumor has it, that only 2000 pieces of the console were produced and that the GPS actually worked!

Anyway, to learn more about the quirky HiSaturn Navi have a look here for the most comprehensive article to ever grace the web. More pictures of said sleek beast can be found here and here. Oh, and do give this link a try too...

Related @ Gnome's Lair: The history of the FPS - a pictorial, SEGA MegaAnser, free MSX gaming

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Warhammers 7th F*QS

And now for something completely different (but, alas, not so festive)... It's Warhammer news time, thus a quite unexpected and rather happy occasion. You see, oh carol singing Nurgle worshiping readers, Games Workshop has just (meaning less than a week ago) released the eagerly anticipated FAQ and errata documents concerning both the 7th edition Warhammer Rulebook and the spanking new (less than 3 months old anyway) Orcs and Goblins armybook. Get'em here lads. Oh, and do get some lovely high-res Empire Wallpapers there.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Chaos Dwarfs!, White Dwarf issue 1 PDF, Monsters and Mercenaries

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Dec 24, 2006

Something Festive. Almost.

...more (via).

Herculean Effort goes commercial

As both the Independent Gaming blog and the indy game developers of xii games noticed, Herculean Effort -the creators of the excellent and freeware Apprentice series- have just released their first commercial (and thankfully very-very reasonably priced) adventure game. Say hi to Super Jazz Man. Now visit it. Or see its naughty little trailer.

[UPDATE 1.1.2007] The demo is available here.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Linus and Samorost, Knightsquire review & walkthrough, a Bone 2 Easter egg

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Dec 23, 2006

3D Ant Attack not an FPS. No matter what some commenters might believe. It's the best game to ever grace the ZX Spectrum instead. And it's in a 3rd person perspective, while also using brilliant black-and-white isometric graphics (pssst... read a review matey... over here...).

Thankfully, the creator of 3D Ant Attack, the revered Sandy White, has put up a fine Ant Attack webpage with tons of info and an online playable version, while other nice people have remade the game for the more-or-less modern PC; here and for free. Another remake -admittedly less faithful- can be found someplace else.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Newcomer C64, a GUI for the Atari 2600, Amstrad CPC: the feature

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Dec 22, 2006

Kinky Zombie Golf Action

Christmas. How tasteless, really. And it's spreading too. Oh, yes. It definitely is spreading. Just like Zombies actually and surprisingly even following patterns calculated by the very scientific v.2.3 of the Zombie Infection Simulation. Better play some Golf then. Golf? even. It's free, it's digital, it's stylish, it's funny and you can get a piece of it here. It also is a game where each player navigates a polygon mesh around a height field texture mapped to look like a golf hole.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: The Last Starfighter, Linus & Samorost, Zombie Plague

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The Legend of Zelda: Twillight Princess PDF Guide

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess; my first 3D Zelda game (tsk, tsk) and I am absolutely loving it, despite some minor camera annoyances and the odd illogical puzzle. And, as Elderly has already prepared a fine Twilight Princess walkthrough collection, all I have to add, is the happy fact that Gamespot created the ultimate Zelda TP guide in PDF. It's a 145 pages long beast of an illustrated walkthrough and you can get it here. For free of course.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: a post about a Wii, Zelda NES map, the complete Zelda PDF comic

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Dec 21, 2006

Neil Gaiman presents: I Cthulhu

The GameSetWatch comments sections, almost comparable to the commenting orgy dungeons over at The Elderly Gamer, can -only when the stars are right of course- reveal the most brilliant of links. Links like this one; the link that will take you to Neil Gaiman's hilarious I Cthulhu short story. It starts a bit like this:

Cthulhu, they call me. Great Cthulhu.

Nobody can pronounce it right.

Are you writing this down? Every word? Good. Where shall I start…mm?

Very well, then. The beginning. Write this down, Whateley.

I was spawned uncounted aeons ago, in the dark mists of Khhaa’yngnaiih (no, of course I don’t know how to spell it. Write it as it sounds), of nameless nightmare parents, under a gibbous moon. It wasn’t the moon of this planet, of course, it was a real moon. On some nights it filled over half the sky and as it rose you could watch the crimson blood drip and trickle down its bloated face, staining it red, until at its height it bathed the swamps and towers in a gory dead red light.

Those were the days.

Now, read the rest someplace else.

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The joys of D&D

Before you hardcore pen&paper RPGers go MMORPG-bashing, take a long hard look at this sly -but illustrated- comment on the Dungeons and Dragons experience (originally found @ GameSpy).

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Dungeons, maps and dice, Mutant Chronicles, Little Wars by H.G. Wells

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Dec 20, 2006

The history of the FPS. A pictorial.

First Person Shooters, games filled with such splendid jokes as the BFG, and a genre that's sort of eclipsed most other forms of video games. This is its history. (Well, not all of it of course and it only makes it to DOOM, but ... err... it's got nice pictures)

Spasim (1974), short for space simulation, is arguably (and that's a strong and 500$ argument) the first multi-player virtual reality game ever and the grandaddy of the FPS, unless of course it's not. The game was played by up to 32 players on the PLATO network. It looked like this and more info is available here.

Then again, Maze War, might have been developed a bit earlier than Spasim, and was -one way or another- the first 3D game to feature an avatar and a map. Digibarn has more details.

Battlezone (1980) was a major arcade jaw-dropper, that cunningly used a green and red overlay over a pretty smart vector showing monitor. See the following picture, learn more or get another history lesson.

3-Demon (1983). A 3d PacMan clone really, but it's all wireframe. MobyGames knows more.

Aliens (1986) was obviously based on the excellent Aliens movies. And it definitely was a very close to our silly-but-contemporary FPS ideal. Really. See for yourselves. Play the C64 version. Also got a nice MobyGames entry.

Now, better ignore Operation Wolf and move on to Driller (1987), a.k.a. Space Station Oblivion, the very first, very real, quite proper looking FPS by Incentive Software. The game has you shooting and puzzling enemies to oblivion, and Wikipedia has a ridiculously long entry on it.

Hovertank 3D (1991), a direct predecessor to classic Wolfenstein, was created by none other than John Romero and John Carmack. Id is still proud of this little gem, that created its first truly important graphics engine, one combining scalable sprites with nice big flat vectors.

Catacomb 3D (1991) evolved Hovertank by adding textures, a fantasy setting and a visible avatar's hand. Find out more.

Wolfenstein 3D (1992) was a shareware game. Yes. An indy gimmicky little thing, that actually changed the history of video games. Oh, you killed Nazis and Nazi-zombies, but guess you know that. No? Oh, dear...

Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss (1992). The best fantasy RPG ever to grace the PC (MobyGames entry), and the game that showed Deus Ex and System Shock the way. Created by Richard Garriot's Origin, it featured a fully 3d world and even gave the players the amazing ability to look up and down.

DOOM (1993). No need to say a damn thing, really. This juggernaut of a game evolved so many ideas and managed to create such a tense gameplay experience it simply bought each and every one of its creators a big red Ferrari (almost). It also started the whole modding and multiplayer game craze.

The rest, as they (they?) say, is history. Then again, so is Sierra...

Related @ Gnome's Lair: SEGA Mega Anser, a mouse in 1963, sick and sick video games, Mario...

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Dec 19, 2006


Were I Shaah Newton Lovegrove, a not-so-brave lordling in a steampunk universe, bearing a name created by an interesting name generator (courtesy of Brass Goggles), I wouldn't dream of not using this computing marvel (currently showcased here):

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Decker's latest links, Cthulhu fun & games, Knights of the Dinner Table

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Dec 18, 2006

The Last Starfighter. The Video Game.

My calculations tell me that 22 (almost 23 now) years have passed since 1984. I'm definitely shocked. And feeling old. Without a cat also. Then again, people still remember The Last Starfighter (IMDb entry, Wikipedia entry), a movie that had deeply impressed my apparently impressionable kid's psyche back in 1984. A movie featuring an amazing arcade game, that was in reality a cunningly disguised recruitment tool for intergalactic fighter pilots.

Said arcade game has also been arcade gamers' (them with a less than average capacity for realistic thought) Holy Grail of sorts. Good news is some rather interesting people are trying to recreate the movie's cabinet, while also making it a working one. Better news is that the same rather interesting and also rather talented people have already created a fully working Starfighter game. And released it for free. HERE. Bad news is it still is a Monday.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Weird retro remakes, it's DOOM silly, Text is King

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Museum Monday #40

Monday. Or should I say the revenge of the mutant spinach-pie? You see, dear readers, yesterday's tequila(s), was served in a trendy little bar with excellent music (ranging from The Tiger Lillies to Einstuerzende Neubauten) and was accompanied by little (admittedly delicious looking) spinach-pies. It seemed like a fine idea at the time. Food poisoning on the other hand, wasn't mentioned.

Anyway. No Museum for this Museum Monday. Only a Game Sprite Archive, thus an ..uhm... archive mainly for retro 2d gaming sprites. Mostly at least, as backgrounds, sprite animations, maps, game music and even box-scans are also featured. Covered platforms include the 3DO, the Neo Geo dream machine, the Genesis and all of Nintendo's consoles, the Playstation, the Atari 2600 and the PC. Worth a visit, really.

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Dec 17, 2006

Decker's Delight Links (17.Dec.06)

Lots of Links, all of the Decker variety, none particularly recent. After all the Internet was so much more interesting a mere couple of months ago. All those Street Samurais were rather fun too...

Jakanden, being an immoral blogger soon to be purged by the forces of morality, posted a brilliant holiday related, Christmas spirited, dark-ones influenced video. It features Cthulhu.

The Elderly on the other hand, being just one person, has gone all elderly and provided humanity with an excellent Metroid retro-review.

Scott Murphy, legendary Space Quest designer, got himself interviewed here, here being Adventure Classic Gaming.

Joel, a Dungeons and Dragons player and obviously a Satan worshiper and a communist claiming every man is king, blogs about sex (obviously). D&D sex advice to be precise.

Other people, Lilith worshiping terrorists I presume, try to ridicule the Lord of the Rings. By using YouTube. They succeed. Then, others succeed again.

Twilight Princess? Pah! Here's Zelda and the Lampshade of no Real Significance.

SEGA-16, then? Ken Horowitz writes all about the History of Sonic the Hedgehog.

For further history lessons, better begin by studying Chuck the Plant of Lucasfilm (Lucasarts, too) origins. Or see how easy it is to program in BASIC.

Finally, do have a look at a young and most promising retro blog: The Saturn Junkyard. By none other than Father Krishna of Gaming on the Go and Dreamcast Junkyard fame.

Need more stuff to click on? Niiiice...

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Dec 16, 2006

Newcomer. A C64 killer-app.

Newcomer, an almost post-apocalyptic, science-fiction horror RPG, set in a mostly male populated mass-murderer infested world, is arguably the most technically impressive game to ever hit the Commodore 64. Astonishingly, it also is a post-2000 production, that's still undergoing bug fixes and is heading for a v.2 release, which can only mean one thing: The C64 is a lively young chap and this post shouldn't be considered a retro-gaming one.

CID, the Hungarian development team behind Newcomer, have even set up a nice website, immensely revolutionizing C64 game distribution. There, you can get yourselves the game or its final forthcoming version (for a symbolic fee), read FAQs, see screenshots, learn about the team's future ideas, express your Commodore loyalty, download stuff and generally frolic. Mind you, the game's music is the most impressive way to showcase the capabilities of the famous SID chip.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Spectrum does Windows, C64 demos, 80s CD gaming

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Dec 15, 2006

A post about a Wii

Gnomes and nymphs have traditionally (according to my very own, very personal mythology) been close. Their relationships have been excellent and accordingly peaceful, ever since Zeus decided to modernize the local (uhm, Greek) mythological fauna by letting gnomes build their wee weird settlements. Things haven't changed much since. Well, we did get broadband recently, but that sort of sums progress up. Oh, and Lenin did drop by for a weekend.

Anyway. You don't care about such things, I'm sure. What's really important, and perhaps even of interest to you too, oh most loyal of readers, is that a beautiful nymph actually gave me -a lowly gnome- a Wii. Yes, a whole European Nintendo Wii. And I've been fiddling with it for 6 days now. And it's rather brilliant. Well not as brilliant as said nymph of course, but pretty enjoyable as far as gaming consoles go.

As I have yet to take my poor Wii for an online stroll, guess I'd rather focus on its more traditional features. Better then begin from the packaging. It's stylish, very Apple like, and the tiniest Google search will convince you of the validity of this statement. What's different in the European version though is that the bundled game, Wii Sports, comes in a proper DVD case, along with (multi-lingual) manuals, registration cards and precious Nintendo VIP points. Hah! And we also get a nice extra adapter, I'm not very sure what to use for... Definitely not edible, that. Still, a nice touch.

Now, I'm not gonna tire you with re-reviewing the whole thing either. Most probably you already know how intuitively simple the Wii interface is, or how smart and comfortable the Wiimote-Nunchuk combination can be. If not, better check those reviews out. All I have to add is that this is the first console ever that seemed able to make my PC gaming attempts seem boring. It even went as far as forcing me to actually pay 120 euros for a mere 2 games (The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess and Rayman Raving Rabbits), that will be reviewed in due time.

Bah! No point in blogging any further. The Wii really is a great console. Bloody amazing, too. And the first non-retroed one I lay my hands upon! Gasp!

Oh, and apparently, tens of free (unsold actually) Wii consoles are roaming in downtown Athens. No one should have trouble getting one. Videogaming ques are -thankfully- unheard of in Greece. Just don't think it'll be as easy finding an extra controller.

Ah, lovely nymph...

Related @ Gnome's Lair: 30 Wii games video, a NES Legend of Zelda map, free NES gaming

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Dec 14, 2006


People who enjoyed Visiting Day, the brilliant freeware PSP game released by Mike Bithell, will be overjoyed to know Mike has started work on a new project: Reunion. A small and well refined game, even the poor sods that haven't heard of Visiting Day will appreciate, as it will be both free and a looker:

Further info on Reunion should a) appear here, at Gnome's Lair, b) is already available here, c) definitely can't be found here. This might also be of mild interest.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Ninja Loves Pirate updates, Empires and Dungeons, Oblivion's essential

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Mutating nostalgia

Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out.

Thus three free games, three flash retro remakes, three experiments in originality, shall be presented here, at this god-fearing, three-loving and always humble blog. Behold and tremble, mortals! (Ok, enjoy, too)

And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, and he clicked here and had a go at spASCII Invaders. A remake of Space Invaders, that's thankfully much faster, and uses rather brilliantly ASCII characters for graphics.

And the Lord did grin, and the people did feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orangutans and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats and finally decided to play Duckhunt 1945. A silly game really, a Call of Duty - Duckhunt bastard that came to be after a drunken orgy, and usually resides here.

ONE! TWO! FIVE! What are we fighting for? What's Blockdude? Well, it's a pretty faithful remake, albeit with much improved graphics, of the TI-83 excellent puzzler Blockdude. All 11 original levels are present and 3 extra new ones have been added. Joy!

Related @ Gnome's Lair: more brilliant free games, more flash games, The DOOM adventure

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Dec 13, 2006

Cartography: The Legend of Zelda (NES)

The Wii Experience is obviously staffed by obsessive and highly trained people & elves, very literally bound to help you with your (original/NES) The Legend of Zelda adventures, especially if you choose to play through them using your brand new Wii Virtual Console (I'm pretty sure though, that playing the original cartridge isn't frowned upon either). Thus, the map above was provided.

For a more detailed version click on it, but for the trully huge full-resolution image click here.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: The complete Zelda PDF comic, SEGA Mega Anser, Sonic maps

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Linus sees Samorost. Gnomes get confused.

To put it differently, us gnomes can get terribly (easily also) distracted, and fail to mention important adventure gaming news. Although the reasons of said distraction will not be analyzed just yet, this surely is the proper and divinely foreseen place for a few words on the latest xii games game.

Linus, short for What Linus Bruckman Sees When His Eyes Are Closed, is a freeware adventure game (shockingly by xii games), you can get your greedy hands on merely by clicking here. Linus -of course- isn't any old freeware adventure. This is a highly polished and more importantly highly innovative game, that has been inspired by Nintendo DS's dual screen layout and let's you simultaneously experience two different stories with just one mouse. Quite fantastic really. Find out more by reading some of the game's designer's thoughts or by waiting for my reviews, that will soon appear both in this modest Lair of mine and in the esteemed Adventure Lantern magazine.

Samorost, on the other hand, has only one story to offer. A great story that suits the amazing but quirky graphics just perfectly, but still only one old-fashioned story. Then again, it's such a bizarre and eerie game, and now that it's gone all deluxe, downloadable & installable, while also sporting a 4.2/5 @ MobyGames, it's quite frankly an irresistible download. Get it over at Telltale's eclectic stash. The original, famous and very-very (that's two verys) flash version of Samorost can be enjoyed here.

Related @ Gnome's Lair
: Spooks review, Lucasarts' hidden ftp stash, Monkey Island music

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Dec 12, 2006

U.K. White Dwarf #324: The return of the review

Yes, yes, I'm generally aware of stuff, especially when it's obvious and even if it's my complete and utter failure to review issues 321, 322 and 323 of the usually over-priced but always colorful (and -okay- fun to read) White Dwarf magazine. Good news is that I'll be reviewing WD 324 right after finishing this paragraph. Bad news is that you'll never get to know just how great an issue no. 321 was (it even had two nice miniatures as a gift; a night goblin and a dwarf) and I'll never know whether issues 322 or 323 were worth getting. Anyway, on to the latest of Games Workshop's periodical offerings (official info is freely available here). On to the 128 pages long White Dwarf issue 324.

General content and ads: Right. Nothing spectacular here, but you 'll get an editorial, some Eldar, Empire and gaming accessories centered ads, slightly spiced up with Lord of the Rings, Black Library and Forge World forthcoming releases. Beginners will be happy to read a pretty decent Welcome to Wargaming feature -a glorified GW brochure, really- that does an ok job of giving them splendid spending ideas. Oh, and Jervis Johnson has a nice and almost personal gaming rant, while lots of nice miniatures are showcased in 10 impressive Golden Demon pages. (7/10)

Warhammer: Ah, yes. Warhammer indeed. And as the cover suggests, there's a pretty brilliant 18-pages long WHFB Battle Report in which 5,000 points of Bretonnians and Wood Elves defend a keep (and their chastity & panties) from 8,000 points of depraved Dark Elves. Kinky. Then you can relax and read a nice Deployment Tactica, that covers the basics and even offers a nice idea or two, or even drool over an amazing Empire Army painted by Gareth Hamilton. As far as video games go, well... uhm... surprisingly Warhammer Mark of Chaos gets a nice 4-pager. (8/10)

Warhammer 40k: Ever heard of Lilia Mundi? No? Perhaps of Saim-Hann, then? Really? Well, you'll find out all about these things in WD's Iron Will, Iron Blood campaign; a well-thought-out series of missions and photos accompanied by a decent amount of fluff. Lots of pointless Eldar Walkers are also included. And not much else. (4/10)

Lord of the Rings: The Serpent Strikes is another campaign and is conveniently filled with excellent modelling projects, easily adjustable for the Warhammer universe. Film Reference, on the other hand, is a cunningly disguised attempt to force you (yes, you unsuspecting reader) to paint your LoTR miniatures the movie way, totally unlike the impressive Easterling army that gets the Army Showcase treatment. (7/10)

High point: Well... the Battle Report I guess.

Low point: More than 20 pages of non-content.

In a nutshell: A good issue, really. Especially for Warhammer lovers. Nothing to get paranoid about though...

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Chaos Dwarfs!, a silly WHFB video, White Dwarf issue #1 PDF

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Dec 11, 2006

The Adventure Lantern Adventure

It's apparently been a tough period, but finally Ugur and the Adventure Lantern team managed to produce another excellent Adventure Lantern issue. Visit the A.L. site to download 90 pages of adventure gaming goodness in an issue featuring reviews, previews, walkthroughs, interviews and the much loved retro gaming how-to series.

Relates @ Gnome's Lair: Text-adventure maps, the Something Awful adventure, Hillyan News

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