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Rare Atari Game – Starwombat
Oct24

Rare Atari Game – Starwombat

Starwombat was released for the Atari 2600 in March 1978 but was withdrawn very soon afterwards owing to two mistakes with its production run. The first issue was that the back story to the game – that of the fictional history of the titular Starwombat, its role in future space warfare, and the honour and responsibility of the people tasked with caring for these magnificent creatures from birth to death – was sadly missing; the story, originally written in Japan, was shipped across to America for translation but lost at sea (along with several thousand cartridges of the game) when the ship it was sent on disappeared. When those games that had already been distributed to America and Europe were released anyway without much in the way of explanation as to what to do the result was a confusing experience for everyone. The second issue was the now infamous Game 18, the Starwombat Vaccination game, the purpose of which was to administer a series of vaccinations through the creature’s thick pelt. Sadly, without an adequate description the game more closely resembled an early porn game as one player tried to ram a long spike into the opening of the creature controlled by player two. This led to a raft of complaints and a rapid withdrawal of the game from circulation. The Atari 2600 video game cartridge Starwombat is highly sought after by fans of the console. In 2011 a cartridge sold on eBay for over...

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Aliens On Vacation: 1960s
Oct11

Aliens On Vacation: 1960s

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Compute! Full Page Adverts
Sep01

Compute! Full Page Adverts

I never collected Compute! magazine – there were computer magazines better suited to my Sinclair ZX Spectrum – but happening upon the Compute! Magazine Archive online brought back warm memories of listings, technical talk (some of which is still beyond my understanding and I’ve worked in the industry for decades), and wonderful adverts. It’s probably because I’ve not been as interested in other subjects in quite the same way I’ve been interested in computers (although, again, decades of working in the industry does take some of that shine off it all) but computer magazine adverts hold a fascination that adverts today don’t. If marketing people could take a piece of that charm from old adverts and inject them into modern attempts to track us and get us buying stuff we don’t need I might even consider whitelisting some of the sites. Probably not. Anyway, here’s a selection of full page adverts, some good, some less so, all just lovely anyway. An office at United Microware’s game division headquarters: “Gentlemen, it’s time to market our games. It’s time to market the hell out of them!” “Which games are these again, Jeff?” “It’s mostly our exceptional science fiction games, Ted. Meteor Run, Alien Blitz, and so on.” “Gotcha! What’s our strategy?” “Ginger-haired female clown looking quite surprised that there’s a pile of computer games under her hand.” “Your wife’s a clown, isn’t she?” “What of it?” “She’s a redhead too, isn’t she?” “And? What are you trying to say?” “Nothing. Nothing. I’m completely on board with this marketing approach.” Great, colourful artwork, a sci-fi theme, and a subtle message, easily missed completely, that this game might – only might, mind you – contain hyperspikes. Hyperspikes! Fair play to Small Systems Engineering for grabbing my attention and getting me excited for… a BASIC compiler! You can sort things at lightning speed! That’s the power of bald, grumpy-looking aliens who’ve been working out and can squeeze into their power armour. A great piece of advertising here evoking thoughts of a thrilling cinema experience in what you know is probably a disappointing 2D block graphics lump of misery. Still, there’s all the thrill of the nighttime game mode where your car has to avoid the ghosts. I guess they can clog up the demister or something. Then it’s blurry viewing and a traffic stop for driving without due care and attention. And ghosticide, which is a real crime. An office at Mimic System Inc’s software division headquarters: “People want to emulate an Apple II+ on their Commodore 64 and now, thanks to us, they can!” “Hoorah!” “Next step! Advertising. And I think you’ll like...

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Computer Dreams
Aug18

Computer Dreams

A VHS recording transferred to digital (as they all should be) highlighting the state of the art in computer graphics from the dim and distant past of 1988. Hosted by Amanda Pays this hour-long showcase is a visual treat and a great trip down memory lane for those of us who lived through this exciting period of shiny surfaces rendered over the course of days in ray tracing...

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Sex In Space
Feb24

Sex In Space

From the November 1959 edition of Adam magazine comes this article titled Sex in Space, written by Ronald Sturgeon. Firstly, the artwork is excellent. The image has great attention to detail and one look at it could instantly date the picture to the time period; right at the start of the space race. I love the aerial coming into the front of the rocket as well as the handles, pedals, levers, and switches for both the female astronaut pilot’s spaceship seating location and her male colleague’s too, who’s possibly performing the role of communications officer onboard the snug vessel. The shielding in front of the rocket engines is a good touch, showing a lot of thought and love has gone into the diagram. Sadly, there are a couple of disturbing elements to the illustration too. There’s the jug of alcohol, clearly of the illegal variety, and then there’s the action and look on the male astronaut’s face (which may have come from indulging of the alcohol); we can see that he’s got a can opener and the implication is that he’s going to open up the ship from the outside and then open up his colleague sexually, whether she likes it or not. Back in the late 50s or early 60s (possibly even later too) this type of dominating man seeking what was deemed rightfully his was considered par for the course and the picture was funny. Of course, the imagery was in a magazine for men so it’s not that surprising either. Still, the idea that what’s illustrated more-or-less amounts to a diagram just before space rape doesn’t sit quite so well these days. And there’s the stupidity angle that’s hard to get over too: why not just walk through the ship and not damage the craft? Alcohol again? Some quotes from the article itself: This business of women and sex in space has long been something of a problem for conscientious science fiction writers. While accustomed to taking the problems of time-travel and interstellar flight in their stride the iminence [sic] of actual space flight has given them pause where putting a broad into orbit is concerned. Usually, they solve the problem by making her a stowaway – or by preceding the U.S. Government by omitting the girls altogether until the intrepid spacemen get to Venus or Mars or Mercury or wherever they are going. Note the use of the word “broad” there. So how are the boys (and girls) going to get their sex in space in the coming age or [sic] planetary travel? Somebody is going to have to come up with a power system...

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Angelfire 0001
Feb14

Angelfire 0001

I’ve taken a look at Angelfire before but today I decided to just hunt for pictures from the old domain and, because there are a lot of them, I narrowed the search to just those pictures containing “0001” in the filename. Obviously, these aren’t all of...

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