Lyonsden Blog

Tag - Commodore 64

More Commodore Magazines (on DVD in PDF format)

I posted about these magazine ‘compilations’ a while ago when I bought this bunch of Amiga ones off eBay. Well I was browsing again a few days ago and noticed the seller is selling some different Commodore magazines now so I bought a bunch more. Here they are:

 

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Here’s a look at the very first edition cover for each of the 5 magazines.

 

First Edition Covers!

 

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As with the last batch I bought, the presentation of these discs is first rate with nicely designed colour prints on the front of each DVD.

Unfortunately I discovered a few problems with two of the collections this time around. The first and least problematic was the source quality of the magazines used for the Zzap!64 collection. The pages were grubby and full of creases as you can clearly see in the Zzap! cover shown above. It’s a shame they weren’t able to procure better condition magazines for scanning. However the pages were still readable and given how old the source material is I can overlook some ropey quality issues here and there.

However with the Amiga Power collection there was a much bigger and unforgivable issue. Basically the magazine pages have been scanned at far too low a resolution. In some cases an entire magazine has been crammed into a 2mb PDF! This has rendered text unreadable on many of the pages as you can see with the excerpt of a Rainbow Islands review below.

 

Lousy scan quality – review text is unreadable!

 

As you can see the quality is simply unacceptable. Give the seller his due, he refunded me within minutes of contacting him about the issue and pledged to look into the problem and try to locate some better scans.

I’d definitely avoid the Amiga Power collection then but the rest are all recommended if you want to add these classic magazines to your collection.

The seller’s name is ‘another-world-games‘ if you fancy having a look at what they offer for yourself.

Freeze 64 Issue 31 Fanzine is out now

Freeze 64 Issue 31

It’s amazing how time appears to move faster the older you get. I remember waiting for the next issue of Zzap! 64 to appear in my local newsagent as a teenager and it felt like an eternity! Yet here I am sitting down with Freeze 64 Issue 31 but it only feels like a week ago I was reading issue 30!

 

Freeze 64 Issue 31

Freeze 64 Issue 31 comes with a cool Zybex sticker and a gift subscription order form to give to your significant other.

 

This issue does away with the usual collectors card in favour of a sticker instead. I love stickers so this is a good thing in my book. I’d be more than happy for this to continue in the future. Even though I’ve got an existing subscription to the mag I’ll still put that gift subscription leaflet to good use too. 😉

 

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So what’s in this months issue then?  Well the featured game and interview is Zybex and its’ programmers Kevin Franklin and Adam Gilmore. There’s also some cool level skipping cheats and pokes for a whole host of C64 games. A suitably icky sounding game, MaggotMania features in the Mouldy Cupboard section. Regular sections Zzapback!, Secret Squirrel and My C64 Heaven are all present and correct too. It’s probably no longer a surprise that Badlands is the featured game in the ‘The Diary of…’ series…

 

Freeze 64 Issue 31

Here’s a peek at the contents page of this issue.

 

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

Here’s a link to my previews of several earlier editions of Freeze64 if you’d like to check out what you’ve been missing!

The Witness by Infocom – Classic C64 Purchase

The Witness by Infocom

I was only saying in a recent post that it had been a while since I last came across an Infocom adventure. Then I stumbled onto this little beauty just a week later. It’s Infocom’s ‘The Witness’ in a ‘greybox’ release. It’s in amazing condition for it’s age and just like the last purchase, all the extra ‘feelies’ and paperwork are present and correct.

 

Infocom's The Witness Back Cover

Infocom The Witness Back Cover

 

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Not surprisingly, I’ve never had the pleasure of playing through this game before. I just couldn’t afford these sort of games back when they were originally released. As is often the case, this will be joining my ever growing retro game backlog. Definitely looking forward to playing this during a rainy Sunday afternoon soon though.

 

Infocom's The Witness running on my Commodore 64.

Infocom’s The Witness running on my Commodore 64.

 

The disk still loads just fine which is pretty amazing considering it’s about 36 years old! 5.25″ floppy disks just seem to be so much more reliable than the more modern 3.5″ ones that the Amiga used. Needless to say the loading time was pretty slow but it’s a text adventure so speed isn’t really an issue.

 

The Witness ‘Feelies’

As always with Infocom games, a big part of their appeal is the extras (feelies) tucked inside the box. These weren’t special ‘collectors edition’ versions at inflated prices either, this was the standard release.

 

The Witness box contents

The Witness box contents

 

 

There’s loads of stuff included with The Witness. First we have the ‘Detective Gazette’ which forms part of the front inside cover. There’s also a suicide note, Western Union Telegram and a huge A3 double-sided newspaper called ‘The Register’.

 

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The coolest extra of all though has to be the book of matches with a name and number scribbled on the inside. A classic clue from many a detective film. Not sure if they are real, but they sure look like the real deal, not that I have any intention of using them!

 

The Witness book of matches

A book of matches with a name and number written inside…

 

Rounding off the contents we have an Infocom brochure and of course the 5.25″ floppy disk, instruction manual and even the original registration card. A far cry from a DVD in an empty clamshell case that passes as a physical game release these days!

 

The Witness game box contents

Just look at all that swag!

If you enjoyed looking at this page then here’s a look at some of the other Infocom games in my collection that I’ve posted about.

Planetfall by Infocom – Classic C64 Purchase

Planetfall Infocom

It’s been a while since I last came across an Infocom adventure that I don’t already own. Consequently when I spotted Planetfall a couple of weeks ago I snapped it up straight away. It’s in terrific condition for a 36 year old game and it looks like all the extra bits and bobs are present and correct.

 

Infocom Planetfall

Infocom Planetfall Back Cover

 

A place for everything and everything in its place!

 

This is yet another game I’ve never had the pleasure of playing through before. As a result it will be joining my ever growing list of retro titles that I’m looking forward to completing at some point in the (hopefully) not too distant future!

 

Infocom Planetfall

Infocom Planetfall running on my Commodore 64.

 

Planetfall’s Extra Goodies

An Infocom game just wouldn’t be complete without a bunch of extra physical content included in the box. Planetfall is no exception. Tucked away in the two top pockets there’s a small book, “Today’s Stellar Control”, some intergalactic post cards, an instruction booklet and a some hand-written journal entries. Then in the two slots lower down there’s a plastic Stellar Patrol ID badge and the most important item of all, a floppy disk containing the game.

 

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Here’s a look at some of the other Infocom games in my collection, well the ones I’ve posted about anyway.

Retrokomp Issue 2 (1) Out Now!

Issue two of the multi-format retro magazine has finally been released and I received my copy a few days ago. Just to confuse things slightly this magazine is actually named Retrokomp Issue 1. That’s because the first issue was in fact numbered ‘0’. This is a slightly odd numbering convention that can be found on their other magazines such as Amiga User too.

 

Retrokomp Issue 1

Retrokomp Issue 1 Cover

 

This issue is packed with even more Commodore content that the previous one and arrives with a hefty count of 76 thick glossy pages.

 

A welcome bias towards Commodore in this issues contents

 

As I mentioned in my look at the very first issue, this is definitely a magazine aimed at the more serious user. There’s a big emphasis on productivity and creative software rather than gaming. This is no bad thing though as there are plenty of magazines offering gaming news and reviews now. That’s not to say the Retrokomp doesn’t dabble with games though. This issue has the first part of really interesting series of articles delving into MicroProse F-19 Stealth Fighter, possibly their finest flight simulation ever in my opinion.

 

F-19 Stealth Fightrer

F-19 Stealth Fighter on the C64

 

Rocket Smash EX Review

Rocket Smash EX Review

 

Of course there’s no shortage of interesting articles to expand your retro computing knowledge either. I particularly enjoyed the LHArchie GUI guide that shows how to install a GUI for the previously shell only LHA archive utility.

 

LHArchie GUI

LHArchie GUI

 

Other stand-out articles for me were the Ray-tracing and Brilliance articles for the Amiga.

 

Amiga Ray-tracing

Amiga Ray-tracing

 

Brilliance

Everyone remembers Deluxe Paint on the Amiga but who remembers Brilliance?

 

A quick run-down of the Commodore-centric articles in Retrokomp Issue 1:

  • F-19 Stealth Fighter
  • Data compression methods on the PET
  • Truths and myths about the Commodore 64
  • Rocket Smash EX Review
  • Black Box cartridge: Assembler support
  • My personal games set for Plus/4
  • Raytracing on the Amia 500 with 1MB RAM
  • Amiga Vision
  • (True) Brilliance: 24-bit on Amiga chipset
  • Get to know AmigaOS: programs and processes
  • PowerPC software tips
  • LHArchie GUI

 

 

Plus/4 Gaming

Plus/4 Gaming

 

If you’ve never come across Retrokomp magazine before you might like to read through my preview of the first issue here.

Alternatively if you’d like to purchase a copy of Retrokomp Issue 1 for yourself then visit the publishers website here and show your support.

Freeze 64 Issue 30 Fanzine is out now

Freeze 64 Issue 30

Anyone who subscribes to Freeze 64 will know exactly what this envelope contains without even opening it… Of course it can only be the very latest Freeze 64 Issue 30!

 

Freeze 64 Issue 30 Envelope

Freeze 64 Issue 30 Envelope

 

Not only is this issue 30 but the fanzine has now been going for three whole years! To celebrate there’s a little retrospective article looking back at some of the stand-out moments from the previous 30 issues.

 

Freeze 64 Issue 29Freeze 64 Issue 30

Freeze 64 Issue 30 pictured with limited edition collectors trading card.

 

This issue’s featured game and interview is Comic Bakery and its’ programmer, Colin Gresty. There’s also some much needed cheats for the recent ‘Mancave’ game as well as ‘Doctster’s Digger’ and ‘Run Demon Run’. Naturally the regular features like the Mouldy Cupboard, Zzapback! and Secret Squirrel can be found inside too.

Badlands is still the featured game in part 5 of the ‘The Diary of…’ series. ‘Bruce Lee: Return of Fury’ is also under the spotlight for this issues ‘The Making of…’ article.

 

Freeze 64 Issue 29 Contents

Here’s a peek at the contents page of this issue.

 

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

Here’s a link to my previews of several earlier editions of Freeze64 if you’d like to check out what you’ve been missing!

A look at K&A Plus #13 Magazine

K&A Plus #13

It’s been six months since the last edition of K&A Plus plopped through my letterbox. Consequently my excitement level was high when I received K&A Plus #13 last week. Doubly so as this is the first edition of the magazine to come with a coverdisk!

Here’s a look at the magazine cover and that snazzy coverdisk in more detail.

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The CoverCD

Coming in a ‘proper’ slim jewel case with glossy cover and inlay the quality of the CoverCD is superb. The CD itself is a standard printable CDR but it’s been laid out well and is also printed in colour. The CD is loaded with software, utilities, wallpapers, icons, games and more. There’s also PDF versions of every edition of K&A+ on there. This is a really great feature since issues #1 – #6 only exist digitally.  Other content includes several full PD games such as the rather splendid Barbarian+ and Trap Runner. Demos of brand new games such as Bridge Strike and Reshoot R are also ready and raring to go too. I’d definitely recommend getting the CoverCD – it’s only an extra €5 and totally worth it.

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Inside the magazine there’s tons of content for all Commodore machines from the VIC20 right through to MorphOS and emulators. One of my favourite game series, The Settlers, gets a terrific multi-page article devoted to the game. There’s also reviews of many new games such as Mancave, Farming Simulator, Bridge Strike, Trap Runner and loads more. On the more productive side there’s a review of a new PDF viewer for the Amiga and tutorials for WinUAE and the C64 Strike WiFi modem. Incidentally, RNOPDF, the PDF viewer reviewed in the magazine is also included on the CoverCD!

Magazine Preview

Here’s a little preview of some of the stuff in K&A Plus #13:

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If you’ve never come across this magazine before you might want to take a look at some of my previews of previous issues here.

If you want to find out more about K&A Plus #13 or order yourself a copy, head on over to the Komoda & Amiga Plus website. The magazine is produced in Poland but the English translation is great. Shipping to the UK only takes a few days.

 

Freeze 64 Issue 29 Fanzine is out now

Freeze 64 Issue 29

Just received my subscriber edition of Freeze 64 in the post, now up to issue 29!

 

Freeze 64 Issue 29Freeze 64 Issue 29

Freeze 64 Issue 29 – with Subscriber exclusive cover.

 

This issue’s featured game and interview is Doc Cosmos and its’ programmer, Simon Jameson. There’s also a nice little review of Run Demon Run, a new game published by Psytronik Software. Of course there’s the welcome return of several regular features like Zzapback! and Secret Squirrel too.

Badlands is once again the featured game in the ‘The Diary of…’ series. Doc Cosmos is also under the spotlight for this issues ‘The Making of…’ article.

 

Cover Comparisons

 

As you can see from the animated GIF above, this issue is a little different. Vinny has introduced a new feature whereby subscribers to the fanzine get different cover artwork from non-subscribers. Whether this is going to be a regular feature or not going forward remains to be seen. Those of you who absolutely must collect everything might like to avail yourselves of an additional copy of the mag so you have both covers!

 

Freeze 64 Issue 29

Here’s a peek at the contents page of this issue.

 

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

Here’s a link to previews of several earlier editions of Freeze64 if you’d like to check out what you’ve been missing!

Freeze 64 Issue 28 has just landed on my doormat

Freeze 64 Issue 28

Just received my subscriber edition of Freeze 64 in the post, now up to issue 28!

This issue’s featured game and interview is Mikie and its’ programmer, Tony Pomfret. There’s a third instalment of ‘The Talkies’ focusing on C64 games that feature speech alongside many of the regulars like Zzapback! and Secret Squirrel.

Badlands is once again the featured game in the ‘The Diary of…’ series whilst ‘Escape from the Waste Disposal Unit’ is under the spotlight for this issues ‘The Making of…’

 

Freeze 64 Issue 28

Here’s a peek at the contents page of Freeze 64 Issue 28.

 

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

Here’s a link to previews of several earlier editions of Freeze64 if you’d like to check out what you’ve been missing!

Trilogic 64 Doctor Diagnostic Cartridge Review

Trilogic 64 Doctor

I picked ‘Trilogic 64 Doctor’ up a little while ago as I thought it might come in handy one day. As it had been sat around on a shelf for some time I decided it was time to have a play around with it. You would be forgiven for thinking that this was new old stock given that Trilogic (as we know it) ceased to be a long time ago*. However this is actually a factory fresh product, made under licence by the prolific Tim Harris of SharewarePlus.

 

Trilogic 64 Doctor

Here’s the contents of the box. From left to right. User port dongle, test cartridge and serial port dongle.

 

Inside the box you get an instruction booklet, some flyers for other Trilogic products, the Trilogic 64 Doctor diagnostic cart itself, a user port dongle and also a serial port dongle.

 

Trilogic 64 Doctor Instructions

Here’s the instruction booklet along with some very retro looking flyers for other Trilogic stuff.

 

What does it do?

So what does the Trilogic 64 Doctor actually do? Well there is a little clue in the ‘doctor’ part of the name itself. Basically you plug it in and it will then perform a barrage of tests on your Commodore 64, from RAM chips to joystick ports.

Here’s a list of the tests it can perform:

  • Keyboard
  • Serial Port
  • Cartridge Port
  • Kernal ROM
  • Video Chip & Video Banks
  • NVI & IRQ Interrupts
  • Cassette Data
  • Joystick Port
  • User Port
  • BASIC ROM
  • CIA Chips
  • Sound Chip
  • Cassette Key Press
  • Joystick(s)

 

Trilogic 64 Doctor

Rear of the Commodore 64 with cartridge and both dongles inserted.

 

Keyboard Test

When you first turn your C64 on with the cartridge inserted you are presented with an on-screen keyboard. This is the keyboard test and allows you to quickly determine whether any of your keys are misbehaving. As you press each key in turn, their on-screen counterparts light up in yellow. If any don’t light up then you know there’s a problem. The restore key isn’t included in the test per se, but given it is needed to progress to the next test it will be obvious if it’s faulty!

 

Trilogic 64 Doctor

The Keyboard test screen

 

Trilogic 64 Doctor

Successfully passing the keyboard test

 

Joystick and Joystick Port Test

The next test is for the two joystick ports and of course whatever joystick you happen to have plugged in. Simply press up, down, left, right and fire with a joystick attached (in turn) to both ports. Like with the keyboard test, an on-screen visualisation of the presses should appear if all is working correctly.

 

Trilogic 64 Doctor

The joystick test screen

 

Trilogic 64 Doctor

Successfully passing the joystick test

 

Chip and Ports test

The final and probably most important test is that of the various chips and ports of the Commodore 64. This test includes both the User Port and Serial port so long as you have plugged in the supplied dongles. Video, SID, Kernel, CIA and several other chips are also tested too. If you need to test the cassette port then you must connect a datasette to it, after making sure you unplug the serial port dongle first.

 

Trilogic 64 Doctor

Successful chip tests

 

Trilogic 64 Doctor

Successful cassette deck/port test. Notice how the serial port lists a fault – this is because the serial port dongle has to be unplugged for this part of the test.

 

After the tests…

Once the tests have completed you will either be presented with a clean bill of health or a fault to fix. The included manual provides a wealth of useful information not just about faults but also how to fix them. It goes into great detail about common reasons for each fault, how to troubleshoot them and ultimately what you can do to fix them. It even goes as far as recommending other useful tools that you may need to diagnose faults or perform repairs.

 

Conclusion

With the inclusion of the two dongles this offers a very comprehensive phalanx of tests for your Commodore 64. Combined with the informative manual, whether you need to troubleshoot a faulty C64 or just want to have it ‘in reserve’ in your retro toolkit this is a recommended purchase.

If you fancy getting hold of one yourself, these are listed on the SharewarePlus eBay store for around £25 at the time of writing.

 

 

 

 

 


*Curiosity got the better of me so I did some googling. Although Trilogic Computers does still exist, it is now a PC repair business. It’s still in Bradford only located at a different address. A look through the records at Companies House indicate that they changed from their old address to their current one back in 1997. Maybe one day when I’m in the area I’ll pop in with my old Expert cart and ask them to fix it!

Commodore 64 Joyswitcher Review

Joyswitcher

If you have two joysticks permanently plugged into your Commodore 64 then you would probably have no use for the Joyswitcher. However, if you’re anything like me, you might find that this is something you’ve wanted for a long time without realising it. I don’t play 2-player games but do play a wide variety of 1-player games, including those that require paddles or a mouse. Not only that but I also dabble with GEOS from time to time too. This means I’m constantly having to switch my joystick between ports 1 and 2 and swap in my mouse or paddles for those games and programs that require them as well. Not only is this a little tedious but it’s also a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on my C64’s 35 year old joystick ports.

 

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Enter the Joyswitcher

I stumbled across this little device over on AmiBay recently. This is a neat little gizmo that plugs into both of your Commodore 64’s joystick ports simultaneously. It allows you to attach any combination of mouse, joysticks or paddles and freely switch between both devices and ports without ever having to unplug anything. The guy that makes these little devices is based in Hungary but it only took a week to arrive and was well packaged too.

The Joyswitcher itself is really well constructed and very sturdy. Those DB9 joystick ports are very securely attached and don’t move around at all when plugging stuff in. There are two female DB9’s that plug into your C64 on one side of the Joyswitcher and two male DB9’s on the opposite side for you to attach your gaming devices. On the underside is a little brass post that is just the right length to support the board so that no strain is placed on the joystick ports.

 

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How it works

On the top of the device is a chunky illuminated square button, helpfully labelled ‘swap ports’ on the board. Press this for a second and you can switch the ports around from their normal position to a ‘crossed over’ one. This button stays illuminated all the time making it very easy to find if you’re playing at night with the lights dimmed.

When you first attach the Joyswitcher the default port arrangement looks like this:

Port 1 > 1

Port 2 > 2

However after pressing the illuminated button the port mapping switches over like this:

Port 1 > 2

Port 2 > 1

 

Joyswitcher

Notice the little LED to the right of port 1. When illuminated you know the ports are operating in their normal way, (not switched).

 

You can tell at a glance which mode the Joyswitcher is in as a little LED lights up when the ports are are in the ‘normal’ position. The Joyswitcher also remembers it’s last switched ‘state’ even after being powered off which is very useful.

 

Joyswitcher

Joyswitcher operating in normal mode with a pair of paddles attached to port 1 and a zipstick in port 2.

 

I still occasionally have to swap my paddles for a mouse and vice versa but not very often. Certainly nowhere near as often as I was when having to juggle a zipstick, paddles and a mouse between the 2 ports.

If I could change a single thing about the Joyswitcher it would be to add a 3rd input port so I could leave everything plugged in permanently. However there’s probably very few other users like me and it would complicate the design of the board no end so I can accept that it will probably never happen!

Conclusion

This is a fantastic little device and well worth the €32.90 it cost me. Can’t really fault the device as it does exactly what it sets out to do, is well constructed and looks like it will last a long time. I really love the aesthetics of it and appreciate being able to see everything exposed in an ‘industrial’ kind of way. It certainly looks way cooler like this than it ever would hidden away in a bland plastic case in my opinion. No doubt if you don’t feel the same way you could probably find a 3D printed case for it online.

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.