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The early years of retro seem retro themselves now


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I think I've mentioned it on the Retro Asylum podcast but the first time I emulated anything was the Speccy on my Amiga 1200. The lengths I went to just to get Skool Daze loaded on it only to find it ran like a snail were totally wasted.

Like you, it wasn't until I got a PC and I tried MAME that I really got into the old games again. The excitement of being able to play arcade games that I had dreamt of owning years earlier was amazing.

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I think I first tried emulation way back around Summer 1991, on my Amiga 500. A friend and I chipped-in and ordered a Spectrum emulator from a PD library. Young and daft, we assumed that as an Amiga was almost double the clock speed of a ZX Spectrum it'd have no problem emulating our rubber-key chum. How wrong we were.

A few years later I upgraded to an Amiga 1200, and it wasn't long after that I bought a 50mhz 030 card to go in it. You may laugh, but one of the main reasons I bought it was so I could play Spectrum games at full speed. With ZXAM I could run the majority of 48K games at full speed, and those 48K games that had AY music were also compatible (Cybernoid, Exolon, to name a couple).

I was quite happy emulating Spectrum stuff on my Amiga, but emulation really took off for me around 1997/1998, when I got myself a PC, discovered MAME and the Dave's Videogame Classics web site, which had stacks and stacks of arcade ROMs available for download.

I reckon a show about the early days of Retro would make for ideal Retro Asylum fodder.

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The funny thing is that is 15 or so years ago now. Making those days far more "retro" than Speccy gaming was at the time then (if you see what I mean).

GoldenEye's multiplayer programmer Steve Ellis included a ZX Spectrum emulator in the game, and by by adding a patch to the GE ROM, it's playable in N64 emulators (and presumably it also works on the original console hardware).

So you've got an N64 emulator loading data from a retro game cartridge in order to run a ZX Spectrum emulator, which is running a Spectrum game that was retro even at the time of said N64 game's release...

Retroception!

pbDKGR6.gif

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Dave's Videogame Classics web site

Ah, great days. I remember re-visiting that site years later and was horrified to find that the owner had split the forums in two - one half still dedicated to retro gaming, the other half to propagate his neo-nazi views :wacko:

Also vague memories of belonging to a classic gaming UK email group, discussing 2600 finds and so on.

Boot sales in the mid to late 90s were amazing places. The amount of stuff I turned down back then just because it was so abundant.

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Retroception!

pbDKGR6.gif

That's like my PC emulating an Atari ST (using STEEM or PacifiST) emulating a Spectrum back in the day...

Saying that, I should have tried that old 8086 software emulator for the Atari ST as well.

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I used to use a spectrum emulator on the Amiga every so often and I believe I had a C64 one too ( frodo?!).

I also had a master system emulator which worked ok but there didn't appear to be any sound emulation so it didn't keep my interest long.

Got a pc in 97 and immediately tried out a Snes and Megadrive emulator. I remember my mum complaining that they had spent all this money on a pc and I was playing old console games ( when playing sonic) and kiddy games ( earthbound).

I remember when the N64 emulator came out just after ocarina of time was released and the Internet going crazy. I even bought a 3dfx card for the emulator which still didn't run the games well..

2003 I built a mame cab and had mame and every emu under the sun.

I still emulate from time to time, although I must admit most the time I'd rather watch a speed run on YouTube if I'm that bothered..

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Oh man, Dave's Classics, back when people thought posting "if you do not own the originals you must delete these ROMs after 24 hours" would be enough to keep Nintendo et al at bay. If my memory serves Sony hit them with the legal hammer. The site did come back but was totally lobotomised, but was still a good source for updates on emulators.

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It's certainly an idea we will consider :)

Suddenly I'm getting images in my head of those emulation CD's of Speccy & C64 library's that you would find on sale in places such as HMV back around then too.

I've still got a handful of those lying around. In fact discs like that were the thing that got me interested in emulation in the first place, well after the PD Spectrum emulator I had for the A500+. I remember getting a disc called "World of Emulators" that started me off in the mid-90s. I think I spent a whole Summer on my sister's Packard Bell P100 loading up .SNA after .SNA into the Spectrum Emulator. I picked up one labelled "Die Speccy 97" a year or two later and started all over again, then after that it was "Amiga Emulator 98" for my brand spanking new AMD K450+.

I used to go to computer fairs a lot as well, and they were hotbeds of less than legit 'collections'. I was just picking up anything that had the word 'emulator' on the disc and exploring the entire back catalogues of systems I'd never even seen before.

Anyway, this is the kind of nonsense I could bang on about for days. I'd definitely listen to that episode, but I'd promise to delete it within 24 hours :).

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The thing that kicked it off for me was the Speccy Sensations 2 CD, released in 1995.

There had been a few PD emulator disks, with a half dozen games on them, but this CD changed everything.

Thousands of spectrum games and an emulator which ran pretty much full speed on my CD32 with its SX-1 expansion. There shortly followed one for he C64, but the Amiga couldn't cope with that.

Still, I remember spending hours downloading Master System, GB and NES games which again ran pretty much full speed.

Ironically, those Roms and CDs made me chuck out my physical spectrum and commodore- plus hundreds of tapes. I thought "I can play these on emulators, I'm not keeping those tapes anymore"

I wonder how many other machines and systems were dumped because of the early emulation scene? For owners (like me) to regret it years later?

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I might have told the other half that I need to keep the old consoles on display, but plan to emulate them on the Pi instead.

We might have had a conversation, which ended with her telling me to bin the old stuff. I haven't, obviously, but she thinks it's an option.

I reminded her that we already dumped her amstrad 464 and CDTV setups, hoping that she'd show signs of regret, but she's had a nostalgia bypass or something.

Kept her mastersystem, though...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Emulation, now we are talking. Dave's was the first big page around if I recall, used to host every MAME rom on the site (back when a MAME release had 30 roms).

I first got into emulation finding roms on a local BBS, started grabbing C64 images before coming across Gameboy roms in early 1996. Emulators were still slow but progress was fast.

Snes emulation is really when I started getting ready excited, ESNES and Snes96 making steps to get speed and compatibility up, running games on my 486 PC that previously cost £50 a pop seemed mind blowing, even if emulation was glitchy and sound was a luxury.

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No I think it was UKCCG or something? This was before people coined the term retro gaming, because I remember somebody in the group in a massive huff as they had a fanzine or something called Retro Gaming and then the term later became widely used. Can't remember the details, it was a long time ago.

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I've been watching a few of the episodes of Bad Influence that someone posted a thread about in Discussion (I wish people would keep retro threads in here where they belong and are much easier to find).

I was quite surprised to see they included a fair amount of "retro" content, and this was back in 1994. The episode I watched today (series 4 episode 4) has a feature on the history of Atari and Apple. And in a few other episodes they have had Spectrums and older machines set up in the studio to demonstrate the heritage of certain game series and genres.

This was probably considerably before Edge introduced its retro page I should think.

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  • 11 months later...
On 25 April 2015 at 1:19 PM, Protocol Penguin said:

IIRC it was that a guy who ran a mail order shop called Retrogames really resented that Keith named his own fanzine Retrogamer.

Keith later got a gig with CVG magazine writing a pull-out segment on retrogaming for a year or two.

Seen a couple of 'Retro Ranch' pages (that was Keith's wasn't it). 

Does anyone know what issues RR spanned? It only ran a year didn't it?

Also, are there any full collections of scans for that 'original' RetroGamer' fanzine?

 

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2 minutes ago, HOW said:

Seen a couple of 'Retro Ranch' pages (that was Keith's wasn't it). 

Does anyone know what issues RR spanned? It only ran a year didn't it?

Also, are there any full collections of scans for that 'original' RetroGamer' fanzine?

 

Yes, was Retro Ranch. No idea how long it lasted, as I had no money to regularly buy games magazines at the time. It was on yellow or pink paper in the middle section of the magazine, IIRC. Think it was around 1999.

 

I'd love to see a complete scan collection of RG as well; no idea where to find one. I'd happily donate my original copies of the issues to anyone reliable who'd be willing to scan and archive it though.

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CVG used yellow paper. I think it was ACE that used pink paper for their classified ads.

 

I remember the ads for the RetroGames shop (in Bletchley?). I was amazed that you'd be able to buy 'new' 8-bit games in a shop during the mid-late 90s. Nowadays, I avoid them on the basis that they're crazily expensive.

 

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  • 3 months later...
On 13 April 2016 at 05:04, Grey Fox said:

The halcyon days of Britmeet :)

 

Yes, those were the days, the first professionally organised Retro con in the UK, although some that held their own cons years later somehow claimed to be the first. 

 

 The years before all the resellers jumped on the car boots and you could get decent stuff AND leave stuff behind for someone else. Those big collections of boxed SNES games for £10.

 

RVGC that small group of us school spanner bobble hat wearing old(ish) guys meeting up in someone's house in Essex or Enfield to have swap meets arriving with cars full of plastic storage boxes brought from Do it All.  I'd trade them all the British computer shite I could not care less for and in return I'd get stacks of Japanese Megadrive games that they had no interest in and were "not really retro anyway".  All of it now worth truly insane prices due to the commercialisation of the reto market. 

 

Keith Ainsworths fanzines! 

 

Good, good times.

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