Lyonsden Blog

Tag - Commodore 64

Freeze 64 Issue 27 – Out now!

Freeze 64 Issue 27

Just received my latest subscriber edition of Freeze 64 in the post, now up to issue 27! (Which reminds me – it’s time to order a new binder as each one only holds 13 issues!)

This issue’s featured game and interview is Nodes of Yesod and its’ programmer, Keith Robinson. The tongue-in-cheek look at toilets continues, as do regulars like The Mouldy Cupboard, Zzapback! and Secret Squirrel. Rollerboard is this issues ‘The making of’ whilst ‘The Diary of a Game’ continues the focus on Badlands from the previous issue.

 

Freeze 64 Issue 27

Freeze 64 Issue 27 pictured alongside Nodes of Yesod, this months featured game.

 

If you fancy your own copy head over to the Freeze64 website and show your support by purchasing this issue.

Infocom Wishbringer – Classic C64 Purchase

Wishbringer Infocom

I’m always looking to expand my text adventure collection so when I spotted this copy of Wishbringer by Infocom I had to snap it up. The spine is a little creased and there’s a small tear on the back but other than that it’s in excellent condition. It came with everything it should with the exception of the ‘magick stone’ which was basically just a glow in the dark plastic stone.

Most copies of Infocom games on sale now are missing one or more of these ‘feelies’ and those that aren’t are often being sold for silly amounts of money. For what I paid for this game I’m not bothered by this in the slightest, especially as the game loads up just fine off the floppy disk and everything is in such great condition.

 

Infocom Wishbringer

Wishbringer game box with opening screen of the game in the background

 

So what was included in the box? Well there’s the book, “The Legend of Wishbringer”, a 5.25″ Floppy disk containing the game, a sealed envelope (only to be opened when the game instructs you to do so!), a fold out map, instruction booklet and a catalogue of other Infocom games.

 

Infocom Wishbringer

This brings the number of Infocom games in my collection to 11 so there’s still an awful lot remaining for me to look out for!

 

I’ve never played this particular adventure before so I’m looking forward to giving it a go soon. Apparently Infocom classed this as ‘Introductory level’ so maybe it won’t be quite as punishing as some of their other games!

Here’s a few photos of the contents…

 

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Retro Gamer Magazine

Retro Gamer Magazine

It’s been a long time since I bought a copy of Retro Gamer magazine so kudos to the person who decided to offer a Rob Hubbard CD in a C2N wallet as a covermount this month. Your marketing ploy worked on me!  As I browsed through the magazine rack in my local WH Smiths the unmistakable image of the C2N immediately caught my eye and then when I looked closer and saw ‘Rob Hubbard’ it became an instant impulse purchase.

 

Retro Gamer Magazine

Retro Gamer Magazine with Rob Hubbard ‘Remixed’ covermount CD

 

My love of synthwave music can be traced right back to the chip music created using the C64’s SID chip and Rob Hubbard was one of my favourite composers back in the day.

 

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The music on the CD is terrific, a whole bunch of Rob’s tracks that have been given a little bit of a modern make-over. However the magazine is actually a pretty fine read too. Obviously with it covering pretty much every retro system on the planet it’s not wall to wall Commodore content but there is a good amount and lots of non machine specific articles that are still really interesting.

 

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I thought I’d note (just) the Commodore content here for the benefit of anyone wondering if the magazine is worth picking up.

  • 4 page article about Rob Hubbard
  • 6 page look at the history of Ocean software
  • 4 page article looking at the making of Space Taxi
  • 4 page article looking at the making Road Runner
  • A brief look at Shadow of the Beast
  • 4 page spread dedicated to the CD32 covering the likes of Guardian, The Chaos Engine, Pirates! and several other games

To be honest there was a lot of great content, not just for the Commodore but Megadrive, PlayStation original Xbox and so on. I think I’ll be checking this magazine out regularly from now on.

 

Pi1541 Disk Drive

Pi1541 Disk Drive

Little bit of background

I’ve been aware of the Pi1541 disk drive or Pi1541 ‘hats’ for several months now. This project was undertaken to create a ‘cycle exact’ emulation of a Commodore 1541 floppy drive using a cheap Raspberry Pi computer. The idea behind it is that by fully emulating the 6502 CPU and 6522 VIA chips you would have a 100% 1541 compatible ‘disk drive’ capable of reading any disk image, even ones with custom fast loaders and exotic copy protection schemes. By contrast the ubiquitous SD2IEC devices don’t emulate either chips but rather simulate some disk protocols and use some clever code to try to blag some fast loaders into working. This is why special versions of some games need to be created to work on SD2IEC devices.

In a nutshell a Pi1541 Disk Drive utilises a Raspberry Pi B computer running custom software along with a daughter board or ‘hat’ which sits on top and connects to the GPIPO pins of the Pi. This ‘hat’ adds the standard IEC connectors and handles the stuff that is required for the Pi to successfully communicate with the attached Commodore computer. The project was created by a guy called Steve White and if you want to know the technical ins and outs then check out his website here.

Pi1541 Disk Drives can be picked up very cheaply on eBay. In fact the whole point of the project was to create something better than an SD2IEC but much cheaper than FPGA based offerings like the 1541 Ultimate II+. Of course another option is to build your own but I have neither the time nor the inclination to attempt that. The other big turn off with both of these options is that quite frankly, the devices are just plain ugly. Which brings me neatly on to my latest acquisition…

Pi1541 Disk Drive

As I mentioned earlier I’ve been aware of this project for some time, but for the reasons I mentioned above it just didn’t appeal to me. Until that is, I saw that Tim Harris who runs sharewareplus was offering a super slick, plug and play, cased Pi1541 Disk Drive complete with OLED screen. I just had to have one and after several months of waiting it has finally arrived!

 

Pi1541 Disk Drive

Pi1541 Disk Drive

 

This really is a thing of beauty, modelled closely on the first generation Commodore 1541 floppy drive. There’s so many little design cues taken from the original case. The Micro SD card slot encased in black plastic housing complete with scaled disk ‘slot’.  The red drive activity LED and green power LED. A chicken logo moulded into the casing top. The Commodore label complete with rainbow colours and a 1541 logo where the trailing 1 is actually a letter I. It even has a built in speaker to emulate the drive sounds of the original drive!

It came supplied with a Micro USB cable (to power it) and a single instruction sheet explaining what the ports are for and what the buttons do. Disappointingly it did not include a Micro SD card, IEC cable or even further instructions.

 

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The casing is approximately 5″ (13cm) deep, 3″ (7.5cm) wide and 1.25″ (3cm) tall. On the front there is a MicroSD card slot, a green power LED, a red drive activity LED and a ‘Select/Start’ switch. On the rear there is a power on/off switch, Micro USB power socket and a standard CBM IEC drive connector socket.

 

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On the top of the device is a lovely 1″ x 0.5″ (128×64 resolution) blue OLED screen along with four navigation buttons. When the device is first turned on it operates in SD2IEC mode which allows you to browse through the contents of your Micro SD card and select an image (or multiple images) to use. In this mode all 4 top buttons have a function: ‘move up’, ‘move down’, ‘exit folder’ and ‘add disk’ (for multi-disk games). In this mode the button on the front acts as a ‘select’ button.

Once an image has been selected on the device and a ‘load “*”,8,1’ (or similar drive command) is issued from the computer, it switches to full 1541 emulation mode. In this mode only the first 2 buttons on the top have a function: ‘previous disk’ and ‘next disk’. In this mode the front button acts as ‘start’.

 

Setting it up

I was advised that this Pi1541 Disk Drive worked best if you use an 8GB Micro SD card so I just picked up this generic card off Amazon and it has worked perfectly.

 

Pi1541 Disk Drive

8GB Micro SD Card

 

Unfortunately I did not fare so well with the Micro USB power supply. The device came with a Micro USB A-B cable so I plugged it into a free port on my power strip extension lead. The drive powered up and appeared to work fine until I tried to actually load a directory listing or a program and then it would just lock up and my C64 would freeze. Thinking the device was faulty, I got in touch with the guy selling it and was advised this was likely a power issue. The Pi needs a beefy PSU, especially when it’s also powering an additional board plus OLED screen. Long story short I tried several USB chargers from phones and such like but none of them fixed the problem. In the end I ordered an official Raspberry Pi PSU off Amazon and the problem just went away. Moral of the story? Don’t be a cheapskate and buy a decent power supply for it!

 

Pi1541 Disk Drive

Official Raspberry Pi PSU

 

In use

Once I’d properly sorted out the Micro SD card and PSU the Pi1541 Disk Drive worked perfectly. It loaded everything I threw at it including .G64 disk images that that won’t work on my SD2IEC device (but do work on my 1541 Ultimate II+). I also tried it with turbo load cartridges such as the Epyx Fastload and Action Replay VI’s Fastload. It worked perfectly and as you would expect loading times were significantly reduced using either cart. It is claimed to be 100% compatible with Jiffy DOS too but at the moment I don’t have the hardware to put that to the test.

There are a few other benefits that the Pi1541 Disk Drive has over it’s rivals. It doesn’t hijack the cassette port or user port for power like an SD2IEC device would as it’s powered independently from the host computer. Nor does it occupy the cartridge slot like a 1541 Ultimate does. It also works with my VIC20, something even the mighty 1541 Ultimate cannot do. I believe it will also work with both the Commodore 16 and plus 4 but I own neither of these machines so cannot confirm this.

There are a few niggles, the first being that the Micro SD card doesn’t have the ‘push to eject’ feature. When you want to remove it there is only 2mm of card protruding to grip onto and I found it difficult to pull out without using some needle-nose pliers.

My other gripe is that it didn’t come with an IEC cable, memory card or PSU. For a device costing £150 I would have expected these to be included and it would have saved me messing around trying to get a working power supply.

The sound produced is a little disappointing too. More a series of beep’s than a true emulation of drive noises (sounds a bit like what you get with a Gotek that’s had a sound mod fitted). My 1541 Ultimate II+ does a much better job of reproducing drive sounds.

Verdict

This is a terrific product and probably the best and most accurate emulation of the Commodore 1541 drive there has been to date. It also looks the part and will work across almost the entire range of 8-bit Commodore machines.

 

Pi1541 Disk Drive

Pi1541 Disk Drive next to 1541-II’s and a 1571

 

It’s definitely a luxury peripheral in my eyes though rather than an essential purchase. In this particular form it cannot compete on price with either the SD2IEC or the 1541 Ultimate II+ cartridge (which has many more features). However if you were to choose one of the more modest Pi1541’s you can find on eBay then it trounces the Ultimate on price and beats the SD2IEC on compatibility for a similar cost.

Another thing to bear in mind is that although, strictly speaking, SD2IEC devices are nowhere near as compatible as the Pi1541, they ARE ubiquitous. Because of this most games have been tweaked to make them work within the confines of the system out of necessity, so in most cases compatibility is often a moot point.

Bottom line is this; if you want the most compatible and by far the best looking modern 1541 Drive implementation there is and you don’t mind paying a premium for it, then you won’t find a better product than this.

K&A Plus Issue 12

K&A Plus Issue 12

K&A Plus magazine is only published twice a year but is always packed with great content and issue 12 is no exception. Weighing in at 81 pages there’s plenty of content to get stuck into over the coming weeks.

 

K&A plus

What a great cover!

 

Although the magazine supports all Commodore machines (even MorphOS and AROS systems) the bulk of the magazine is devoted to the good old C64 and original Amiga systems and that suits me just fine.

 

K&A Plus Issue 12

Here’s a look at the contents page showing the breadth of articles

 

The magazine is packed with interesting articles and reviews of new games for both the C64 and Amiga computers.

 

K&A Plus Issue 12

The rise and fall of Psygnosis

 

As a scouser, one article that immediately caught my eye was ‘The rise and fall of Psygnosis’. This deals with how the company sprang into existence and what they got up to before being engulfed by Sony and ultimately, closing. There’s even some photos inside their old Liverpool offices where they used to work.

 

K&A Plus Issue 12

Expedition to the world of Dune

 

Another fascinating article is ‘Expedition to the world of Dune’ which is a in depth look at the transition from book, to movie and ultimately the games.

 

K&A Plus Issue 12

Gunship 2000

 

As a big Microprose simulation fan the article about Gunship 2000 for the Amiga also warranted my immediate attention.

If you want to find out more, or order yourself a copy, head on over to the Komoda & Amiga Plus website. The magazine is produced in Poland (but the English is great) and shipping to the UK only takes a few days.

 

Retrokomp – A brand new Retro Computer Magazine

Retrokomp Magazine

I originally spotted Retrokomp Magazine a few months ago. I thought it looked interesting but sadly it was only available in Polish at the time. That’s changed now though so I ordered myself a copy for €10 plus postage last week and it arrived today.

 

Retrokomp Magazine

A technical article looking at diagnosing issues with the Commodore 64

 

So what exactly is it?

Retrokomp Magazine is a brand new retro computer magazine that focuses on 8-Bit and 16-Bit machines and is published by amiga.net.pl in Poland. Although it covers other makes and models of machine there is a lot of Commodore content covering everything from the VIC20 though to the Amiga. The other machines covered include Atari, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and the old Apple computers. It’s produced in full colour to a high standard on A4 glossy paper and there are 74 pages in total.

 

Retrokomp Magazine

Detailed look at the long lost methods of interacting with 5.25″ floppies and how you can convert them to .D64’s

 

The first thing that struck me as I flicked through it is that it’s not like most of the other magazines in circulation right now. This is not a game-centric magazine, it’s very text heavy and it contains a lot of articles and information. This is a good thing in my opinion as there are plenty of other magazines that cover games already.

I’ve read a few of the articles in full and they’re well written, interesting and informative. They’re the sort of articles that I will either refer back to in the future or prompt me to start experimenting with a particular piece of kit or write a program. They remind me a little bit of the sort of articles you used to get in Amiga Shopper magazine (RIP).

 

Retrokomp Magazine

Making a VIC20 sound generator, complete with type-in listing

 

A quick run-down of the Commodore-centric articles in this issue:

  • Transferring data to the C64 (looks at converting real floppies into .D64 files)
  • Controlling the floppy disk drive (in depth look at floppy disks usage on the 64)
  • Expansion cards for the C16 – Plus/4 family (everything from adding more RAM to sound cards)
  • Diagnostic info for repairing Commodore 64’s
  • Better sound for the VIC20 (how to write your own sound generator – complete with listing to type in!!!)
  • Hardware expansions for the CD32 (looks at several devices you can get to expand the capabilities of the machine)
  • Devices supported by handlers (a look at Amiga DOS handlers and what you can do with them)
  • Tandem IDE controller (a look at the Tandem IDE CD-ROM drive controller for the Amiga)

 

 

Retrokomp Magazine

CD32 Expansions

 

Verdict

Although I’ve not read all of the magazine yet, what I have read so far impressed me. Even the non Commodore articles look interesting, so if I ever pick up one of those other machines there’s plenty to come back for.

Basically if you are interested in using your old computers for anything other than simply playing games on then I’d definitely recommend giving this magazine a try. It’s clearly targeted at hobbyists and tinkerers like myself and has plenty to offer.  If, however, you are only interested in games then this probably isn’t the magazine for you.

 

Retrokomp Magazine

Happy days – a program listing to type in! This alone made the purchase worthwhile. (yes it’s deliberately blurred)

 

VIC20 Keyboard Repair

VIC-20

This is just a quick post about how I was able to repair the damaged keyboard on my recently unearthed Commodore VIC20.

As I mentioned previously in my VIC20 Attic Find post, the decades of storage in my attic had taken its toll on the keyboard. The insides of the keys had become brittle and four of them had broken apart. As you can see from the following photo they were in a pretty bad shape. In this condition they just wobbled around on top of the plungers and fell straight off if the keyboard was turned upside down.

 

VIC20 Keyboard Repair

Broken and crumbling keys

 

The quick and easy solution would have been to stick some blue-tack in there but I doubt that would have been an effective bodge for long. Alternatively I could have glued them in place but then they would be permanently attached to the keyboard with no way of removing them for future cleaning or repairs. As my dad always used to say, if a job’s worth doing then it’s worth doing properly!

I did toy with the idea of replacing the whole keyboard with one from a donor machine off eBay. However that wasn’t cost effective and I really wanted to keep my VIC as original as possible.

I asked and searched around and eventually stumbled across retroleum.co.uk. They sell (amongst other spares) individual replacement Commodore 64 keys for £1 each. Luckily for me, the keyboard on my VIC20 is identical to the ones found on the original breadbin style C64’s. Not all revisions are so do check carefully before buying C64 keys if you want to fit them on a VIC20.

 

VIC20 Keyboard Repair

My new VIC20 keys!

 

Particularly useful was the fact that they sell a wide variety of keys, not just from different models of C64’s, but with different levels of yellowing too! This meant I was able to choose some that would blend in perfectly with the rest of my keyboard. In the end the keys I ordered were described as ‘Breadbin C64 – Keyboard Type 2, Grade 1.5’. A couple of days after ordering them they arrived in a neat little cardboard box.

 

VIC20 Keyboard Repair

New keys fitted – perfect match!

 

Fitting the new keys only took a few seconds and I was really pleased to see that they turned out to be a perfect match for my keyboard. My VIC20 is certainly looking a lot happier and I can actually use the keyboard now too.

Now that the keyboard is sorted I still need to look into sorting a few other things out. Next job will be to pop a few heat-sinks onto some of the more critical chips and maybe retrobrite it, if I’m feeling brave that is, (my last attempt was a disaster).

Freeze 64 Issue 25

Freeze 64 Issue 25

I have been eagerly awaiting Issue 25 of Freeze 64 for ages… I’m sure my postie must have travelled via the Bermuda Triangle to get to me!

Anyway it finally arrived today and as usual it does not disappoint. This issue’s featured game and interview is Herobotix and its’ programmer, Steven Collins. There’s also a tongue-in-cheek look at toilets that feature in C64 games, and the making of Rupert & The Toymakers Party plus all the regulars such as The Mouldy Cupboard, Secret Squirrel and much more.

 

Freeze 64 Issue 25

Freeze 64 Issue 25 pictured with this months Cheat Card (#22) and Herobotix, this months featured game.

 

This is a particularly special edition for me personally because I’m actually in it!!! Vinny (the Editor) did a little interview with me about my C64 game collection for the regular “My Commodore 64 Heaven” feature. The following copy of the article is only reproduced here with his kind permission.

 

Freeze 64 Issue 25

My Commodore 64 Heaven Interview (reproduced with permission).

 

As always, if you’d like to get your own copy (this magazine is only available in print form) then please head over to the Freeze64 website and show your support by buying a copy.

Hibernated 1 – A New Text Adventure

Hibernated 1

Been waiting for this particular game to arrive for what feels like an eternity after having pre-ordered it last year. As of today that wait is finally over! Hibernated 1 – This Place is Death is now on my desk waiting to be played! 🙂

This isn’t a review as I’ve not had time to play the game yet, just a look at the physical edition and what’s inside it. Hopefully once I’ve completed it (always the optimist) I’ll write one.!

 

Hibernated 1

Amiga 3.5″ Disk & MicroSD Card

 

Which format?

I deliberated over whether to get the game on the Commodore 64 or Amiga for a while before ordering. In the end the Amiga won out due to it being able to display a greater number of characters per screen row. Given this is a text adventure I thought that was the most important consideration. However the beauty of this release is that although I chose the Amiga, this only affects the physical media the game ships with. On the MicroSD card are digital versions of ALL of the supported formats, including the Commodore 64. The other formats on the card are; Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, Spectrum and IBM PC along with some bonus stuff like concept art.

Eight Feet Under

An extra bonus is that a digital copy of the spin-off game, ‘Eight Feet Under’ is included – you can download it from itch.io and again you have the same choice of formats as above. You can also choose to get Hibernated 1 digitally if you like, it’s available here and you can name your own price.

 

Hibernated 1

A look at what’s inside the box

 

Box Contents

Inside the box there are plenty of goodies to enjoy, here’s a quick rundown:

 

  • A5 full colour game manual
  • A3 full colour poster
  • Game on physical disk
  • Digital version of the game on MicroSD card (in a snazzy Hibernated case)
  • Password to download ‘Eight Feet Under’ from itch.io
  • Terran Alliance round cloth patch
  • Stickers
  • Adverts for some other poly.play games

 

Couple of screenshots

Here’a quick look at the loading screen and the opening screen to the game.

Open eyes… 😉

 

Hibernated 1

Loading Screen

 

Hibernated 1

Open eyes…….

 

Replacing Grotty Game Library Cases

Replacing Game Library Cases

Replacing your game library cases is a very quick and easy method of rejuvenating some of your old cassette games. If yours are anything like some of mine then you may have several scratched up, chipped, broken or yellowed cases skulking around in your collection. The good news is that there are still companies out there supplying replacement cassette library cases. The company I use, based in the UK, is called Tapeline but there are probably others too.

The ones I’m using here are just standard black library cases costing around 26p each at the time of writing. You can get a variety of different types and colours too, even double and triple cases should you need them.

 

Replacing Game Library Cases

Standard Black Library Case

 

Once the cases arrive it’s simply a matter of removing the cassette tape and paper ‘J’ card inlay from the old case and popping it inside a nice shiny new one. Here’s a few before and after photos to show the difference they can make. I’m sure you’ll agree that after replacing the game library cases the games look infinitely better, almost like new!

 

Replacing Game Library Cases

Before

 

Replacing Game Library Cases

After

 

Replacing Game Library Cases

Before

 

Replacing Game Library Cases

After

 

Replacing Game Library Cases

Before

 

Replacing Game Library Cases

After

 

Replacing Game Library Cases

Before

 

Replacing Game Library Cases

After

Mono Review

Mono

Mono is a brand new PAL game for the Commodore 64 created by a couple of guys in Switzerland, Clay Spoerri and Raphael Graf. It’s only available in cartridge format and costs €35 plus postage from their website. I bought this pretty much blind a few months ago as there was little information about it online. Sadly my first copy was faulty so had to be replaced (thanks Raphael) but the new one works perfectly so I thought I’d write a little review in case anyone else is interested in the game.

 

Contents

 

For your money you get a nicely designed plastic case with a cool manga inspired front cover featuring the pilot of your ship with some game screenshots and ship artwork on the back.

 

Mono

Mono Back Cover

 

Inside the case you will find a sleek black cartridge with the title of the game etched onto it. The cartridge fits into the C64’s expansion port easily, unlike some other recent cartridges that required shoehorning in! You also get an instruction sheet, mono pin badge, a sticker, postcard and a beer mat/coaster. It should be noted that the latter three items all relate to other games, only the pin badge relates to mono. It’s only a minor complaint but I would have loved to see a sticker in the box of the girl or your ship instead. Also the cartridge is loose inside the case – a foam insert would have stopped it sliding around inside.

 

Mono

Mono Game Contents

 

Gameplay

 

Mono is a vertically scrolling shoot ’em up that features a couple of fairly unique and pretty important gameplay elements that set it apart from similar games. Firstly your ship wraps around the edges of the screen. Move off the left side of the screen and you’ll reappear over on the right. Move off the top or bottom of the screen and you’ll reappear at the opposite end. Once you get used to this it’s actually a great gameplay enhancement and one that becomes essential with some of the bosses you’ll encounter later in the game. However it does take a few minutes to get used to and led to me dying on my first play-though. I kept accidentally moving off the bottom of the screen straight into the aliens spawning at the top!

The second unique feature is that your score and your ships life are one and the same. As you play you’ll notice a series of positive and negative numbers scrolling down the side of the screen. Kill an alien and a positive number will appear. Take a hit and a negative will appear instead. So long as you do more killing than getting hit you’ll be fine. However take too many hits and your score dwindles to zero leading to a ‘game over’.

Like many shoot ’em ups there are weapon power-ups to be had, but again these are linked to your score. Score well and power-ups will appear on screen for you to collect. However take some hits and you will lose your last power-up until you are back down to your standard issue guns. As soon as you start building that score back up the power-ups will start flowing again.

 

Mono

Title Screen

 

Level Design

 

There are six levels in the game, each one themed differently with it’s own colour scheme, music, background, enemies and boss. The backdrops scroll down the screen smoothly but are pretty simply affairs, based around various shapes or patterns – bubbles, lines, pyramids, blocks and even a circuit board (populated by 6510 chips!).

The alien designs are also pretty simple but they’re nice and clear and each feature unique move and firing patterns. Some of the bullets fired home in on your position too which makes for some tricky situations if you don’t take the enemies out quickly enough. There is some overlap of enemy use from one level to the next but the game adds new enemies to each new level to mix things up.

Every level culminates in a boss fight where a group of bullet sponge enemies appear for you to take down before you can progress onto the next level. I found it was during these segments of the game that the screen wrapping feature came into its own, allowing you to stay literally one step ahead of the enemy, out of their line of fire, whilst chipping away at their health.

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Game Length and Difficulty

 

You can play Mono using either the keyboard or a standard joystick which is the option I chose to go with. My thumb also appreciated the fact that your ship auto-fires. No need get cramp stabbing away at that fire button like a madman!

One thing that I have to mention here relates to the game difficulty and length. Those 6 levels are quite short, taking maybe 2-3 minutes to complete each. They’re also pretty easy to get through too as the score-life mechanic is very forgiving. To put this into perspective I was able to beat the game on my second play-though in around 15 minutes and that includes brief interludes where I was taking photos for this review!

I’m guessing that is a feature rather than an issue though. For me it seems the game is built around replaying it and trying to improve on that high score as you learn the move sets of the enemies and best ways to take them out without getting hit.

Sound

 

Mono has some great music playing throughout the game and it changes slightly for each new level. There are no sound effects at all in the game because all the SID’s voices are being utilised to produce the soundtrack. However this is no bad thing, at least to my ears as I really enjoyed the music.

 

Mono

My High Score: 181

 

Verdict

 

I realise that for some, €35 for a game that can be bested in 15 minutes may not be perceived as value for money. If so you’ll need to way up the pros and cons I’ve mentioned already in order to decide if this game is for you. Sadly there is no digital purchase available so it’s the Cartridge version or nothing I’m afraid.

Speaking for myself I’ve really enjoyed my time playing Mono, although the graphics are a little simplistic the gameplay is tight and rewarding and the music is terrific. The physical packaging is fantastic and looks great on my shelf. I’ll definitely be replaying it often to improve my score and it’s the perfect game to play if you’re limited on time… you know from the outset that a game will never last more than 15 minutes!

I think the price is quite fair too and on a par with the majority of other cartridge releases so all things considered it gets a recommended from me. 🙂

Solo Flight – Classic C64 Purchase

Solo Flight

Although I already own Microprose Solo Flight on cassette tape, I’ve been keeping my eye out for a decent copy of the disk version for quite some time now. Happily I recently came across a fine specimen, so here it is! The wallet case and insert are in pretty much mint condition, as is the instruction booklet. The three maps of the locations you can fly around in the game (Colorado, Washington and Kansas) also look brand new. Clearly this has either been very well looked after or not seen much use. The disk label is on wonky but it will have been like that from new, that’s just how they came sometimes unfortunately. I was delighted that the disk loaded up no problem first time around, but I’ll still make a backup copy just to be safe.

I used to play Solo Flight for hours on end back in the 80’s. The graphics are pretty basic and it probably runs at around 2 FPS but none of that mattered. It felt like you were really flying a light aircraft. I used to love doing the mail delivery missions too – provided a real sense of purpose to it all.

Here’s a few photos of the game…