Why does Captain Comic exist? Why did I make a comic about Captain Comic? Why does my shirt change colour between panels? These questions may never be truly answered.
Hello! This has absolutely nothing to do with retrogaming at all but it’s something cool I was involved with and wanted to share with you!
As you might (hopefully!) know, from time to time I make a comic called Presidog. It’s about a dog who for some unknown reason has been elected to be the President of the United States! Hilarity ensues. You can read all the Presidog comics free online here!
Anyway! The incredibly talented Daniel Rocha has turned one of my Presidog strips into a cool animated cartoon! CHECK IT OUT I LOVE THIS
Hello! I have a brand new comic available in the shop! It is called Bruce And Hazel Go For A Drive. Check it out!
Bruce is a hard-working bloke who just wants to watch the footie and enjoy a good beer. His missus Hazel is an absolute sweetheart who loves cooking a big meal and singing a big song. Together they live in a tree. Oh, did I mention they’re koalas? That’s totally a thing that is normal in Australia.
It’s a comic I made in my spare time thanks to the support of my awesome Patreon backers, and now it’s available for everyone!
Hello! It’s the beginning of the month, so it’s time for another Retrogaming Kickstarter Roundup! But wait, why wasn’t there one last month? Well, because I didn’t see anything going that was any good, that’s why! BUT THIS MONTH IS OH SO DIFFERENT LET’S DO THIS AND SAY GOODBYE TO MONEY:
FIRST OF ALL, Devil’s Bluff is back! There was a Kickstarter for this a few months back which missed its goal by thiiiiiis much, so the developers have learned some lessons, made a kick-ass demo, and are back to try their luck again – and it looks great! Devil’s Bluff is a cool 11 vs 1 murder mystery game that has an art style that reminds me a lot of Zombies Ate My Neighbors for some reason. It looks like a real hoot in multiplayer. Anyway I definitely think this is worth a go!
OH YES OH LORDY. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of The Bitmap Brothers. They’re one of my favourite game developers of the 16-bit era! They made Z! They made Speedball 2! And now the people who brought you the INCREDIBLE MegaDrive coffee table book are making a book about The Bitmap Brothers, called The Bitmap Brothers: Universe. Seriously, did you see the MegaDrive book? I keep plucking my copy out of the shelf and just kind of gaping at it like the monkeys staring at the monolith from 2001. It’s sumptuous. Anyway, this is going to be excellent, I just know it, and you’d be mad to not want your own copy. GET THIS BOOK, I’M SERIOUS HERE.
Hi do you remember wip’Eout” of course you do because you are a person of excellent taste in videogames WELL some of the people who made THAT are now making THIS and it’s called Formula Fusion and it’s basically a BRAND NEW wip’Eout” so seriously what else do you need to know OK the price is a bit steep but I am EXCITED can’t you TELL from my lack of PUNCTUATION.
Well the Mini Emu All In One Game Console looks cool as hell, and something I definitely need: A simple to set up little box I can plug into the TV and just play old games on with excellent video quality. That’s all I need, really! I just wanna play some Wonder Boy and forget about my troubles. I mean, who doesn’t, right?
Finally, Wildfire has a great retro look, and is based around a mechanic I really love – what if all your problems could be solved by BURNING EVERYTHING? Yeah, that sounds fun. And it’s only a couple of bucks!
OK, that’s it for this month – some excellent stuff on offer! What’s on your list?
Not many books come with soundtracks to listen to while reading, but then again legendary game publisher Hewson Consultants never did things the “standard” way – which probably explains why they were legendary in the first place!
I’m a big fan of Hewson Consultants (later known as 21st Century Entertainment) as they had some absolutely amazing games in their catalogue. With gems like Nebulus, Uridium, Pinball Fantasies and Gribbly’s Day Out to their name, it’s no surprise that they quickly established a fan following.
A few months back you may recall me telling you about Hints And Tips For Videogame Pioneers, the tell-all look back at Hewson Consultants that is coming soon from the man behind it all, Andrew Hewson. While we wait patiently for the book to be finished (and I’m sure it’s going to be a right cracker!) the soundtrack has appeared to help keep the spirit of Hewson’s games alive in brand new ways.
And they sent me an early copy, which was nice.
Now I’m not a music reviewer, I haaaate reading music reviews, but man, this was a great album to listen to!
There’s eleven tracks on offer, each featuring a classic Hewson Consultants track mixed around in a different way. It features such well-known games as Uridium, Rana Rama and Cybernoid 2, but also delves into the back catalogue with some lesser-known titles that hosted great chiptunes.
Me being me I went straight for the tracks I was a fan of back in the day. Battle Valley was a game I was hopelessly inept at, but kept plugging away with for ages as the music and world was incredibly compelling. The Battle Valley remix on offer features the original SID version (now in stereo!) with some extra drum beats and an epic-sounding vocal layer that, frankly, feels like how the tune should have always been heard. I prefer it to the original!
I always felt Jeroen Tel’s Eliminator track was overlooked back in the day, probably because not many people thought much of the game. So what if it played like everything was under water, it was fun! Anyway, like Battle Valley, this remix takes the original version, overlays it with new instruments and gives it an extra oomph that even the mighty SID chip couldn’t perform.
Another favourite of mine on this is the remix of Cybernoid 2 (oh…guess I really am a Jeroen Tel fan then, huh!) that makes the original look like it’s being played by a drowsy baby on a broken xylophone in comparison. It’s a great track to run to, by the way. for those playing along at home.
Bracketing out the album are two interpretations of Firelord, a souped up orchestral version from Ben Daglish and Max Hall, and a sweeter, more contemplative acoustic version by the same team. Very cool to see the tune reinterpreted in these ways! I wouldn’t have been able to pick just one of these for the album either.
There’s a host of other tracks on offer here – some of which you can preview on their site – featuring great artists like Press Play On Tape. Anyway, I really liked listening to this, and if you’re anything like me (hopefully you are coz I’m awesome) then you will too.
Hints And Tips For Videogame Pioneers is available in a few short weeks but can be pre-ordered now for a measly seven quid – that’s what, how much I paid for my copy of Zynaps back in the day or something, and Zynaps was great so c’mon.
30 years ago today, the first issue of Zzap! 64 hit newstands across the United Kingdom!
Zzap! 64 was a magazine dedicated to Commodore 64 games. It was fresh, it was funny, and it became the most important thing that ever happened to me.
Started by hotshot new magazine publisher Newsfield and staffed by kids who were barely out of high school, Zzap! 64 had a feel unlike anything else you could have read at the time. Most magazines of the era were focused on the technology, or serious subjects like word processing or printing letters. Zzap! 64 (and its older sister magazine Crash for Spectrum owners) was all about the one thing kids actually cared about: hot new computer games!
Most mags covered games, but the reviews (such as they were) were usually written by the same people who filled the pages with staid opinion columns about the latest database editing suite, so they were usually drier than a week old biscuit. Zzap!’s reviews were markedly different: every game was reviewed by multiple reviewers, and they were always brutally honest. They actually cared about the games that were competing for our meager pocket money, and had tastes in games that matched our own. It was a review system that frankly, has yet to be matched in terms of quality and honesty.
Imagine life before the internet. Imagine only being able to find out about new games by buying a magazine once a month and reading the reviews. A new issue of Zzap! 64 landing was the highlight of my month. The Commodore 64 was my everything, and all I wanted to do was play Commodore 64 games all the time. Issues were traded around the schoolyard during lunch. Review scores were treated as if they were written on stone tablets delivered from Mount Sinai.
Just look at those covers! Each one was painted by the masterful Oliver Frey, and they kicked your eyeballs right out of their sockets. They made every game look freaking fantastic.
The magazine had ebbs and lows just like the machine it was based on, but it still remained the cornerstone of any C64 fans’s hobby. There were lots of staff changes and revamps and “eras” of the magazine but the same games-hungry, cheeky style remained until the magazine eventually ceased publication in March 1994. The fact that it ran for 106 issues was testament to how good the formula was.
It was issue 35 that changed my life, though.
I was 13. I was not a smart kid, and had already started the habit of just not going to school at all during the day, and spending my time at the local comic shop until it was time to go home and play Commodore 64 games all night. I knew that I didn’t have a bright future. I guess I could have a career in painting houses to look forward to?
Flicking through issue 35 was like flicking through any other issue, but for some reason something clicked. I realised that Julian Rignall and Gary Penn and Paul Glancey and all that lot weren’t just writing the magazine for a laugh – this was an actual job. A job anyone could learn to do. A job I could learn to do.
It was a major revelation. I could become a game reviewer! I could escape the life that was awaiting me!
And…to cut a long story short, that’s exactly what I did. Reading Zzap! 64 led to me becoming a for-real game reviewer, which in turn led to me becoming a for-real game maker, which in turn led to many many years of adventures and victories. I feel like I owe my entire career to Zzap! 64.
But that’s not all. Many years ago, as a lark more than anything, I helped make the “final” issue of Zzap! 64, issue 107. It was…wow,13 years ago now? Not only was it a great opportunity to pay tribute to the magazine but I also got to work with some of the actual staff! I made some dear, dear friends through working on that issue, and I will always be thankful for that.
So…thanks for everything, Zzap! 64, and I’ll love you forever.