Lyonsden Blog

Category - Retro

A look at the new Zzap! 64 2021 Annual

Picked up a copy of the latest Zzap 64 2021 Annual last week so thought I share a little look at what’s inside. Let’s start with the awesome front cover artwork by Oliver Frey, the exact same artist from the original Zzap! 64 magazines of the 80’s.

 

Zzap 64 2021 Annual

Front cover of the 2021 Zzap! 64 Annual.

 

Flipping over to the back cover we find a very interesting advert that appears to herald the return of MicroProse simulation games. MicroProse was a big player in the Commodore market (especially on the Amiga) and produced some of my favourite C64 games such as Silent Service, Gunship and Pirates!

Sadly, but not at all surprising, these new games will be coming to Windows PC’s and not the C64 or Amiga. Even so I’m still looking forward to seeing what MicroProse produces. To be honest that’s probably what they are banking on too otherwise why else would they pay for such a prominent advert in a book about 40 year old computers!

 

Zzap 64 2021 Annual

Interesting advert on the back!

 

Below is a little peek at the contents page giving you an idea of exactly what’s inside the annual.

 

Zzap 64 2021 Annual

Zzap! 64 2020 Annual Contents Page

 

A few of the many contributors this year include Andrew Braybrook, Stuart Collier, Perifratic and Trevor Storey.

 

Zzap 64 2021 Annual

Zzap! 64 2020 Annual Contents Page

 

Most of the Zzap! 64 magazine regular features like Zzap! Rrap and the White Wizard can be found within the annual and are given plenty of space to shine. There are also dozens and dozens of game reviews covering pretty much every new game that has been released over the last 12 months for the C64.

 

Zzap 64 2021 Annual

Another example of the amazing Artwork of Oliver Frey.

 

The hardback A4 annual has 120 full colour pages all packed with interesting articles, reviews and artwork.

Here’s a tiny selection of random pages from the annual to give you an idea of what it contains.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Rounding off

There’s certainly enough content in this annual to keep any C64 fan quiet for a very long time. I reckon it makes a superb collectors item; chronicling the last twelve months of the C64 scene. I’ve bought every one of this new run of annuals since it started back in 2019 and I sincerely hope they continue being produced for a long time to come too.

The Zzap 64 2021 Annual is available directly from the Fusion Retro Books website for £15. You can save 15% by using the code ‘LYONSDENBLOG’ at the checkout making it even more of a bargain!

Retro Format – A Brand new Retro Computer Magazine

Retro Format

Believe it or not there is now another Retro Computing magazine on the block! It’s called Retro Format and it’s a multi-format magazine that caters for all retro 8/16/32-bit systems. Born from a successful Kickstarter campaign, this magazine is mostly focussed on games, specifically reviewing them, much like you’d imagine an all format ZZap!64 might look.

 

Retro Format

Retro Format Cover.

 

Initial impressions are very good indeed. It’s a full-size magazine, 64 pages in length (cover to cover) and all printed in full colour. There are over a dozen full reviews of games for retro systems inside. The games themselves are almost exclusively new ones created recently for retro systems. The two main exceptions to this are John Wick (a new NES styled game for modern PC’s) and Strike Commander – an old DOS game.

 

Retro Format

Retro Format Contents Page.

 

The Reviews

I really like the review style. It breaks game scores down by Graphics, Audio, Playability, Lastability and then gives an Overall score. This is how games used to be reviewed back in the day and I welcome seeing this format again.

 

Retro Format

Retro Format Game Scoring System.

 

As for the reviews, the bulk of the magazine is split almost 50/50 between Commodore and Spectrum games with the remainder made up of a handful of MSX, CPC and PC titles.

There’s also a future classics section which looks at a couple of modern games for the Vita and Playstation VR systems. I’d say the jury is out on this section though as I’m not sure I felt it was relevant.

Besides the games there was a really interesting 8-page feature on the SEGA Dreamcast system along with some of the best games available for it. I ended my SEGA experience with the Mega Drive but this definitely piqued my interest and made me think about getting one…

 

More than just games…

 

Retro Format

A look at the Christopher Reeve Superman Movies.

 

The magazine is rounded off by a classic Movie and TV section which I enjoyed a lot. It features the Christopher Reeve Superman movies and also delves into some past episodes of The Twilight Zone. As a big  Sci-Fi fan I found these articles to be right up my street.

 

The original Twilight Zone – NOT the recently re-hashed abomination.

 

Here’s a peek at some of the reviews featured in the magazine.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

How to get your own copy…

If you are interested in purchasing your own copy of the magazine then head on over to the Retro Format website.

Eight Bit Magazine Issue #8 Out Now

Eight Bit Magazine Issue #8

I have to say the latest issue of Eight Bit magazine (issue #8) really caught my eye. There’s a VIC20 featured prominently on the front cover, a machine I have a real soft spot for as it was the first computer I ever owned. Most magazines tend to focus on its more powerful and popular sibling (the C64) so any coverage is more than welcome.

 

Eight Bit Magazine Issue #8

Cover featuring the Commodore VIC20

 

Inside there’s an interesting ten page ‘Collectors Guide to the VIC20’. It starts with a brief history of the VIC20 including that famous advert with Captain Kirk. It also looks at the machines hardware, the software available both back in the day and a few of the new titles released recently. It’s a good read for sure but it’s actually quite a short article and left me wanting more.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Also in the issue is a really in-depth look at 8-bit baseball games. Unfortunately I have zero interest in baseball so I moved swiftly onto the next article which looks at IRATA.ONLINE. I must confess I’d never heard of this until now but it looks very interesting indeed and worthy of more investigation.

There’s also a look at ‘Retro Virtual Machine’ (a Spectrum & Amstrad CPC emulator) and a lengthy feature looking at the creations of Sir Clive Sinclair. To round off this issue there’s a couple of game reviews: Shockway Rider (which is available for the C64) and a Text Adventure called Tower of Despair for the Spectrum.

All in all the magazine offers a good read, though because it doesn’t focus on any single machine YMMV.

If this post has piqued your interest and you’d like to buy a copy then take a look at the Eight Bit Magazine website.

 

Fusion 2020 Annual Review

Fusion 2020 Annual

I’ve been buying Fusion magazine since its inception over a year ago. It’s a great little magazine that covers everything from retro gaming and culture to modern day classics. A couple of months ago they launched a ‘Fusion 2020 Annual’ Kickstarter campaign which I backed without hesitation. The annual arrived fresh off the printing press a couple of days ago so here’s a quick look at what’s inside.

 

Fusion 2020 Annual

Fusion 2020 Annual Back Cover

 

The Extras

The first thing you will notice is that the annual is A5 in size rather than the more common A4 format. This is in keeping with the magazine itself which is published in this format. There were a whole bunch of stretch goals added towards the end of the campaign which means that it came packaged with a host extra goodies.

 

Fusion 2020 Annual

Fusion 2020 Annual & Extras

 

Included is an A5 calendar that unfolds to A4 and features some fantastic artwork from the magazine. There’s also a special ZX Spectrum themed edition of Fusion magazine that runs to 50 pages covering everything ‘speccy’. Finally there’s a couple of collectable art cards and two badges featuring artwork from previous magazine covers.

 

Fusion 2020 Calendar

The Fusion 2020 Calendar featuring some fantastic artwork

 

Below is a little peek at the contents pages so you can get an idea of exactly what you will find inside the annual. As you can see there’s a broad range of topics and time periods covered.

 

Fusion 2020 Annual

Fusion 2020 Annual Contents Pages

 

Taking a peek inside

 

As a huge Amiga fan I thought this interview with RJ Mical was especially interesting to read.

 

Fusion 2020 Annual

An interview with RJ Mical who was part of the team that created the Amiga 1000

 

There’s plenty of nostalgic trips down memory lane to be found in the annual. Here’s one that struck a chord with me, I’ve still got this up in the attic somewhere!

 

Fusion 2020 Annual

Frustration!

 

Another nostalgia hit, this time looking back at a particularly memorable Zzap!64 magazine cover.

 

Fusion 2020 Annual

Zzap!64 Feature

 

There’s also a feature I found particularly interesting as a retro game collector – ‘Cheaper in Japan’. This looks into sourcing games from the far east and demonstrates how much cheaper they can be than their western counterparts. Sadly this won’t help with the escalating prices of Commodore gear but something to bear in mind for Sega, Nintendo and PlayStation classics.

 

Fusion 2020 Calendar

Buying retro games cheaper from Japan

 

There’s some great modern day features too such as this look at the fantastic Logitech G920 wheel and pedal set. (I’m a big racing simulation fan when I’m not playing retro games and this is the wheel I use).

 

Fusion 2020 Annual

Logitech G920 Wheel review

 

Verdict

All in all this is a cracking addition to anyone’s book collection and I have no qualms about recommending it to people who are passionate about gaming. There’s literally something for everyone in here, especially if they’re interested in older games and systems.

If you’d like to get hold of your own copy you can buy the annual directly from the Fusion Retro Books website for the bargain price of £9.99. Please bear in mind that you won’t get all the extras described above as these were only for those who backed the Kickstarter campaign.

A look at the new Zzap! 64 2020 Annual

Zzap! 64 2020 Annual

Who’d have thought back in the 80’s that in the far off future of 2020 we’d be getting a new Zzap! 64 annual for Christmas? But that’s exactly what’s happening here as I’ve just received my brand new Zzap 64 2020 Annual through the post following another successful Kickstarter campaign.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

This time around (they released a Zzap! 64 annual last year too) there were plenty of stretch goals that has resulted in a lot of extra goodies to enjoy besides just the annual.

 

Zzap 64 2020 Annual

Zzap 64 2020 Annual Goodies

 

Along with the Annual, for £22 I also received an A3 Tir Na Nog map/poster, an A5 50 page Fusion 64 magazine & collectors card, a Zzap! 64 keyring plus a Zzap! 64 2020 calendar. Didn’t he do well as Bruce Forsyth would have said.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Below is a little peek at the contents page so you can get an idea of exactly what’s inside the annual this year.

 

Zzap! 64 2020 Annual

Zzap! 64 2020 Annual Contents Page

 

As you can see it covers a broad range of C64 topics from past to present including Perifractics ‘Brixty-Four’ off his youtube channel and none other than Vinny Mainolfi creator of the extremely awesome Freeze 64 magazine.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

If you’d like to get hold of your own copy (and if you like the C64 then you really should) you can buy the annual directly from the Fusion Retro Books website for £15. Please bear in mind that you won’t get all the extras described above as these were only for those who backed the Kickstarter campaign.

Retro Grooves 3, a MiniDisc release in 2019!

Retro Grooves MiniDisc

As a fan of Anders Enger Jensen’s other releases I’ve been looking forward to Retro Grooves 3 for quite some time now. What I was not expecting at all was for him to release this on MiniDisc! When he emailed me to let me know it was coming out on this format I just had to get it, as well as the cassette version!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Both versions are really professionally presented with full colour inlays that unfold to reveal a lot of interesting information about each track. This is something you just don’t get with digital music. I loved being able to listen to each track for the first time whilst browsing Anders’ notes about what inspired him or the processes involved in creating a particular track.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

He’s certainly pulled out all the stops for the MiniDisc release, the artwork on the disc has been printed directly onto the case itself – no cheap stick-on labels here. This is certainly the only MiniDisc in my collection that has been printed this way and it looks amazing! The cassette release still looks good too, coming in a transparent green case with the album details printed on it in contrasting white.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

A lossless digital download of the whole album is included with both the Cassette and MiniDisc formats. Additionally the digital download includes an extra 16 bonus tracks not included on either the tape or disc releases. Alternatively, if you don’t mind missing out on the physical formats completely you can opt to just buy the album digitally if you prefer.

 

Retro Grooves MiniDisc

The entire Retro Grooves cassette collection to date…

 

Verdict

Regardless of which format you choose, if you enjoyed either of his previous Retro Groove albums, or even Troubled Hearts then I pretty much guarantee that you will also enjoy this. Anders’ signature style of upbeat ‘cheerful’ sounding synth music mixed with occasional samples is present and correct. My personal standout favourite track has to be ‘FM Love’ closely followed by ‘Isabella’s Dream’ which features some lovely harmonised female vocal samples.

 

Retro Grooves MiniDisc

MiniDisc version includes full track listings

 

There’s a couple of tracks with backing singers this time around that you may or may not enjoy depending on your taste. ‘Escape Your Fear’ sounds like it could have come straight from the Troubled Hearts album and I really enjoyed it. The other, entitled ‘Let’s Fly’, I didn’t like so much as the vocals are very processed and it just didn’t really click for me. It wasn’t bad enough that I’d want to skip it, but it’s definitely not something I’d want on repeat.

Anyway if you would like to get hold of a copy for yourself than head on over to EOX Studios website.

Mayhem in Monsterland 25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition

Mayhem in Monsterland 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition

Here’s a quick look at what came in my Mayhem in Monsterland 25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition game I received yesterday. I have to say I was super impressed with the design and finish of the box, it looks and feels amazing. It’s clear that an awful lot of love and attention has been lavished on this release…

 

 

The Generation Game…

Inside the box things got even better, it was literally crammed full of goodies. Box contents included the game on a 5.25″ floppy disk, a soundtrack CD, glossy full colour user manual, art postcard, key ring, loads of stickers, 2 pin badges, an A3 glossy art poster and a double sided A3 map of all the levels! There was also an unexpected, but much appreciated packet of Milky Way Magic Stars in there too. Needless to say it didn’t last long!

 

 

I’ve bought my fair share of special edition games over the years but for the money, Mayhem in Monsterland 25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition is definitely one of the finest in my collection. You can find out more about this release over at the Binary Zone Interactive Store.

 

 

 

 

C64 LCD Cassette Slideshow

C64 LCD Cassette Slideshow

I saw this “C64 LCD Cassette Slideshow” whilst browsing through my twitter feed one night a few weeks ago. The moment it caught my eye I knew I had to have one for my man cave. Today it finally arrived and I’m over the moon with it so thought I’d share some photos and info about it.

 

C64 LCD Cassette Slideshow

Slideshow in action – note the timings are greatly sped up in this GIF.

 

It’s made from a real cassette tape box and has a 4″ LCD panel mounted inside, framed by a Commodore styled inlay. I’m not entirely sure what is driving the screen (and I’m not going to risk breaking it by opening it up) but I suspect it’s probably a Raspberry Pi. The slideshow comes ready to go with ‘over 2500 images of nostalgic games’ according to its’ creator. Each image is on display for around 5 seconds before moving onto the next automatically (my animated GIF has sped up the timings greatly).

 

C64 LCD Cassette Slideshow

Side view

 

It’s mounted on a stylish Commodore themed perspex base that features the iconic Commodore blue and white stripes and the words ‘Commodore 64 1982-1994’. Around the back there is a decent length USB cable which provides power for the device. The cable is permanently attached and incorporates an inline power switch so it can be turned on and off without unplugging the cable which is a useful feature.

 

C64 LCD Cassette Slideshow

Rear view – note the inline power switch on the USB cable

 

The C64 LCD Cassette Slideshow is completely hand crafted to order but has been completed to a high standard. It would have been nice to have access to some sort of timer facility to have it automatically turn on and off at preset times but that probably would have added to the complexity and cost. At £80 for the 4″ version including postage it’s not a cheap item but I think it’s a very fair price for what I received. There is a 3.5″ version that is £5 cheaper but don’t know why anyone would choose that over the larger screen for the sake of saving a measly £5.

 

C64 LCD Cassette Slideshow

A closer look at the back of the device

 

EDIT (June 2021) – The sellers Etsy shop has now closed so it’s no longer possible to buy these.

 

Finally here’s a few more photos of some cassette covers…

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fusion Issue 3

Fusion Issue 3

The latest issue of the relatively new retro/modern gaming mag, Fusion Issue 3 arrived this morning. Had a quick flick through and there’s lots of suitably ‘christmassy’ themed stuff in it to enjoy. The ‘Guide to gifts of Christmas past ‘ looked especially interesting. A great trip down memory lane for any kid that grew up during the 70’s and 80’s. Plenty of other stuff too including a review of the new NeoGeo Mini, a look at some of the best games you can get for the PS Vita and loads more. Definitely looking forward to reading it over the weekend in front of the fire!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Eight Bit Magazine

Eight Bit Magazine

In this post I’m taking a look at Eight Bit magazine, another new (to me at least) retro computer magazine. I actually ordered these 6 issues 4 months ago as part of a Kickstarter campaign but they took a fair bit longer to arrive than expected. I’ve only had time to read through the first issue so far but things are looking promising. The magazines are well written and interesting to read and feature multiple contributors rather than being written by just one person.

 

Eight Bit Magazine

Genesis article

 

Issue one weighs in at almost 70 pages so there’s plenty to keep you occupied. As the title suggests, the content is spread across all 8-Bit formats. There’s a very interesting and in-depth look at the ‘Genesis’ of gaming. Here they delve into the history of the first arcade machines and home consoles that appeared in the 1970’s and early 80’s. This is a very long (14 pages) and text heavy article, but thankfully the font and colours used in the printing make it easy to read. Having lived through the entire period the article covers I found it to be a great trip down memory lane. I particularly enjoyed reading about long forgotten software companies such as Imagine (which was based in my home city) – as a child I used to dream of getting a job with them and razzing around in a flash car!

 

Eight Bit Magazine

Commodore 64 Collectors Guide

 

Elsewhere in the magazine the article ‘Collectors Guide: The Commodore 64’ caught my eye. This is a brief introduction to the machine, what it can do and some of the most popular peripherals available for it. I hope to see more in depth articles about the 64 in future issues as this one didn’t really tell me anything new. However I think the point of these features is to give non-owners of such systems an idea of what the machine is capable of and what is available for it. The article did hint that they would be looking at GEOS in a future issue so I’m really looking forward to that!

 

Eight Bit Magazine

Commodore 64 Collectors Guide

 

Also in issue one there is a brief (and I do mean brief) look at BASIC programming and machine code. I really hope they expand on this in future issues as I’ve got a strong hankering to get back into programming on the C64 and would love to see some proper tutorials. There’s also an extensive look at the early Apple 8-Bit computers, a quirky computer from Yugoslavia and even a couple of short game reviews. All in all I’m very pleased with this magazine and look forward to getting stuck into the other five issues. I’ll definitely be subscribing to future issues too.

If you would like to find out more information about the magazines or order your own copies then you can visit their webpage here: Eight Bit Magazine.

Freeze 64 Issue 23

Freeze64 Issue 23

The latest Freeze64 Issue 23 dropped through my letterbox yesterday. This one features a photo of the late Ben Daglish on the cover rather than the pixel game art that I’ve become so accustomed to. In case you are not aware he was a legend in the C64 music scene and composed some amazing music for many great games including The Last Ninja.

As always there’s plenty to read inside including my personal favourite, a ‘Talkies’ article looking at games that featured speech. I always used to love games with speech – it was just so cool to hear your 64 talk, no matter how scratchy or poor quality it may have been. The fact that they were able to do this with just a few kilobytes of memory still amazes me to this day!

Most of the regular features make a welcome return including Zzapback and a look at new and upcoming games in the Commodore 64 scene.

This fanzine/magazine continues to go from strength to strength and really deserves your support. If you would like to get hold of your very own copy of Freeze64 Issue 23 then take a look here.

 

Amiga Future Issue 135

Amiga Future 135

Plenty of reading material this week as in addition to K&A Plus 11, Amiga Future 135 is also out now. This edition is packed with all the latest news from the entire Amiga scene…

 

Amiga Future 135

Amiga Future 135 News pages

 

…including an in depth look at Gamescom 2018 that took place in Cologne back in August this year.

 

Amiga Future 135

Gamescom 2018 Feature

 

There are also plenty of reviews of both old and new Amiga games including the newly released ‘Extended Collector’s Edition’ of Rocket Ranger.

 

Amiga Future 135

Rocket Ranger Extended Collector’s Edition Review

 

A little late for me personally (having installed this about 6 months ago) but still of great interest, is a detailed review of MorphOS 3.11, the latest iteration of the long running replacement Amiga OS.

 

Amiga Future 135

MorphOS 3.11 Review

 

There’s plenty more to read about besides the few things I’ve highlighted already so if you are interested in finding out more about this long running Amiga magazine take a look here.