Thursday, 26 March 2009

Along came a spider ...

Greetings programs!

I'm as chuffed as Mr Chuffterton from Chuffsville to announce that the first Psytronik Software VIC 20 release will soon be available. The game is called Carling the Spider and is a new piece of software for the Vic programmed by Joe 'Polygon' Dixon. In the game you control a little spider (called Carling, obviously) who must negotiate various tricky screens and collect all the diamonds before heading for the exit.

Some rather evil ball-bearings make life difficult for Carling as they bounce around the screens killing our little arachnid chum on contact. Deadly spikes are also littered around the screens and will rob you of a life if Carling touches one of them. Sproingy black blocks are also cunningly placed on the screens which will cause Carling to leap high in the air if he lands on one.

One of the things I like about Carling the Spider is it plays a bit like Chuckie Egg (which I loved on the Speccy). Carling zooms around the screens at a decent pace and can be controlled in mid-air when he falls or if you hit fire to make him jump. Interestingly, the whole game has been crammed into just 4K so it will run quite happily on an unexpanded Vic!

The nifty tape artwork you can see above has been created by Trev 'Smila' Storey. The game will be released in the next couple of months as soon as it has been completed and mastered. Exact release-date and price TBC.

Keep an eye on for more details about the game.

Thanks for reading, see you IN THE FUTURE!

Kenz /

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Byte-Back 2009!

Greetings once again retro chums!

I'm currently still recovering (and unpacking) from the awesome Byte-Back retro event but I thought I'd better type up my memories of the event into this blog type device before I forget them all! So without further ado, here we go!

The night before the event was a frenzied blur of preparation. I didn't get home from work until around 5pm so the next several hours were spent dashing round like a loon getting stuff ready to be loaded into the car. I was up until the wee small hours printing flyers and filling boxes with goodies but eventually crawled my way into bed as I knew I had a loooong day ahead. ZzZzZz ...

My horrible not-quite-tuned-in-properly clock radio woke me up just before 7am on Saturday morning and I jumped into the shower to try to wake myself up a bit. I then loaded the rest of the stuff I was taking to the event into the car which didn't actually take very long as everything was neatly piled up by my door. After a bit of last-minute brain-wracking to make sure I hadn't forgotten an essential lead or connector I was on my way! Stopping only briefly to clog a few arteries with a MuckDonalds brekkie - yummityyumyum. The rest of the drive to Stoke-on-Trent was uneventful and my Ozzy Ozbourne Tom-Tom voicepack soon informed me I had "reached my f**king destination" - which appeared to be the middle of an industrial estate! A bit of a drive further up the road and I spotted the Bidds sign - and pulled in to find oodles of parking space - YESSS!! I HAD ARRIVED!

"Aren't you a little short to be a Stormtrooper?"

Uh, oh - problems straight away - Imperial Troops! Fortunately I used an ancient Jedi mind-trick and managed to sneak past them into reception. I then collected my nifty Dig-Dug-style pass from a rather flustered looking Mat (Corne - show organiser) and went to have a quick recce around the event. My first impression of the main room was its size - it was BIG! I was more used to retro events being a bit more, erm, "cosy" so this was something new. I then headed on into the somewhat chilly executive suite to find out where I was setting up. I met up with DaveFromHell (he of and fame) who pointed out what was where. I then busied myself setting up the Psytronik stand whilst chatting to some of my retro chums who had also appeared (Mayhem, Merman and Shaun "Micro Mart" Bebbington to name but three).

The Specadore 64 causing much mirth and confusion at Byte-Back!

The next few hours were spent demoing the Psytronik Software releases which were very well received. People were very impressed with the game packaging and kept fondling the boxes (oo-er!) The Last Amazon also impressed various folks - especially with its flashy new front-end and excellent Matt Gray style music (I pumped up the volume on my lil' telly so people could appreciate it!) My trusty Specadore 64 also received a lot of attention (as always!) I also got to have a nice chat with Bob Wakelin (he of the Ocean / Imagine artwork fame). He very kindly signed my spare C64 which I've lugged to many a retro event to get signed by various 8-bit luminaries (and loonies). And talking of which, I also had an "encounter" with one Joffa Smith who, despite not being in quite the same universe as the rest of us, was very friendly and amiable and he also signed my C64. He also purchased one of Merman's luvverly C64 books which Merman had left on my stand earlier (and which will also be soon available from the Binary Zone Retro Store, fact fans!)

Can somebody please give Joffa a prod?

Later in the day were some Q & A sessions - including the controversial Ocean Reunited one which suffered from a few technical glitches and other, erm, "malfunctions" (read all about it HERE). The Q & A sessions lured lots of people from the main room into the exec-suite so my stand got rather busy at times. The hours rolled past and I spent my time nipping into the main room to grab a quick blast on a retro game and manning the Psytronik stand. Later in the evening Chris "Boyo" Wilkins had the excellent idea of grabbing something to eat (I was having so much fun I'd forgotten to eat during the day!) so I jumped in the Boyomobile along with Martyn "Retro Gamer" Carroll and we followed more of the Byte-Back gang in another car to a nearby(ish) Harvester. A massive and lovely bacon burger soon arrived while me, Chris & Martyn chewed the fat(ty burgers) about various retro related shenanigans (ooh, the stories that were told THAT night!) I managed to slay Martyn at one point with my "put some pants on, Kevin Toms" line (you had to be there to appreciate that gag!) Anyway, that was much fun and the meal was an excellent way to round off the first day at Byte-Back (even though I couldn't eat all my "kicked-in crunchie" dessert as it was tooooo sickly!)

I headed back to Malvern soon after as my legs were falling off at this point and I was looking forward to crashing in my own bed. Fortunately there was hardly any traffic on the way back so I was soon tucked up in beddie-byes - recharging my batteries for ...

Byte-Back Day 2!

I had a nice and leisurely start to the second day of the event. There was no need to get up quite as early as I didn't have to pack anything - I'd just left everything at the event with a cover thrown over it. I did need to prep a couple of little things that people had ordered the previous day which I promised I'd bring with me today but that didn't take long. I was soon tootling along to pick up my co-pilot for todays event, my little bruv "Diddy" David. I picked him up en-route and another MuckyDees brekkie was consumed (a very nice one I might add as it was freshly cooked). A jaunt down the M6 then followed and we were soon once again at Byte-Back.

Diddy kicking alien vector ASS on the Vectrex!

I really enjoyed the second day at Byte-Back as it was much more laid-back (probably due to all the hangovers people were suffering from!) I spent much more time in the main room and managed to play a lot more games. Another highlight of the day was being able to play Shredz64 on my Specadore 64 (thanks to Merman & StarshipUK). This was a real crowd-pleaser and the site of a C64 running a Guitar Hero style game generated a lot of interest (and photos!)

Yes, that guitar really is connected to my C64!!

I also tried the "neural interface" which allows you to control a pong-style game on the PC using the power of your MIND! Unfortunately, my brain is so frazzled I failed miserably to control the bat - and was also disturbed to see my brain activity was off the scale! I guess I need to chill out, man! After lunch there was a charity auction which was very nicely hosted by Mat Corne. I was pleased to see the bundle of CDs I donated went for £35.00 - all for a good cause.

I received another great bit of news during the event from Shaun Bebbington. He read me the list of games that had won the Micro Mart Game Of The Year awards for 2008 and I was delighted to hear that Sub Hunter had won the Micro Mart 2008 Game Of The Year Award for the C64!! So hearty congrats go out to Richard Bayliss & Frank Gasking for their corking little sub-aquatic blaster. And that means I can add another nice award to the disk box artwork. *grin!* Unfortunately, Shaun didn't have time to spray a joystick gold and present it to me so I had to resort to photoshopping the picture below (note that you can see the bloke taking the photo of the joystick reflected in the pic - teehee!)

Here's one I made earlier!

And that just about sums it up for Byte-Back 2009. I had great fun at the event and well done to Mat "Witchfinder" Corne and the rest of the Byte-Back team for putting on such a great event. I had an excellent time chatting with everyone who visited the Psytronik stand, I look forward to seeing you all at Byte-Back 2010 (which WILL happen, right Mat?)

(Click HERE to see the photos I took at the event).

Thanks for reading, keep it RETRO!

Kenz / Psytronik

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Busy busy busy!

Greetings Retro Chums!

Wow, things are getting pretty darned hectic around here at the moment. I've been busy preparing for the upcoming Byte-Back event (which is now a mere 1 week away!) whilst juggling a couple of Psytronik project at the same time.

1 week to go - and I'm SO not ready! Gibber!

Firstly, lots more great things have been happening with The Last Amazon. I had the design for the front-end of the game in my mind so I had a go at creating an animated .gif so I could illustrate my idea to Richard Bayliss. I liked the simple front-end that was featured on the System 3 game Myth (which featured a logo with the credits text fading in and out) and wanted something similar for The Last Amazon. You can see the .gif I created below.

I sent this to Richard who did a great job converting my idea onto the C64. In fact, he managed to code the front-end so it looked EXACTLY the same as my design. Great stuff! Richard then went on to create a neat Game Over sequence, once again based on an idea I had of the Amazon being menaced by Cheetahs. You can read about how Richard coded the front-end and end-sequence in his blog.

Most of the work is now done on the first Last Amazon game - apart from the loading screen which I will be concentrating on after the Byte-Back event. The music for the game is also now in place and the game features a cool new Tusker-esque title tune by Richard along with the amazing Last Amazon intro tune by Tonka.

Another Psytronik release I have been working on recently is the disk version of Joe Gunn. Psytronik will be releasing the disk version in the UK and Protovision will also be releasing the game to cater for people in Europe. All the disk artwork for the Psytronik release is now complete and the game will be unveiled at the Byte-Back event (and then made available in the BZ retro store soon after).

As an extra bonus I wanted to include the preview of Knight 'n' Grail on the Joe Gunn disk and the author of the game (Mikael Tillander) gave me the go-ahead to do just that. But then things got even better when Mikael then delivered a brand new demo of the game to include on the disk! Good times!

One slight downer for this week ... I fired up my luvverly Xbox 360 to show my chums The Force Unleashed and was promptly greeted with the dreaded RED RING OF DEATH! Yup, after 3 years of faithful(ish) service my XBox has perished in a blaze of red-ringed glory. This wasn't entirely unexpected as it had been freezing up a lot recently and some games were acting a bit oddly (graphical glitches ahoy!) So it looks like the proceeds from the Byte-Back event will go towards getting the blimmin' XBox fixed (not sure why I have to pay Microsoft £80 quid for their defective goods) Ah well, them's the breaks. :(

How come my XBox 360 is doing this after just 3 years but my Commodore 64
is still working perfectly after TWENTY YEARS! Muttergrumblefume!

See you next time!

Kenz /