Sunday, February 28, 2016

Out Zone - Post Mortem and Screenshots!

Out Zone, Out Zone...

What a SUPERB game!!! When I suggested it I was really just throwing a random challenge out there. I had no idea I would enjoy the game this much.

It's just an outstanding challenge. Though incredibly difficult, making progress in the game seems constant. Getting a little bit further every time is so rewarding, especially when you get that adrenaline kick of "I've never gotten this far before!!!".

The game never feels frustrating or cheap. Whenever you die, you always feel like it was your own fault and that you could have done better... Not that the game threw you a curve ball.

The game definitely goes into the "Methodical" category of shmups, where memorization plays a bigger role than improvisation. Generally I'm not a big fan of this type of game, but Out Zone is an exception!


Screenshot time....

 Level 1. It looks like a lot of enemies, but if you shoot fast enough, they just stand there and let you kill them   :)

 Level 1 boss, actually pretty difficult as far as 1st bosses go. It's at this point that you know you're in for a challenging treat!

Level 2 -- Lots of places to die for sure...

Level 2 boss... I never learned how to beat it without panic bombing it. Oh well, it only takes 2 bombs   :)

Level 3... Lots of switching between weapon modes here. 

Level 3 boss... Was incredibly frustrating about the 1st 10 times I tried it. A laser cuts off the floor behind you, and if you don't shoot them fast enough these guys come out and get behind you and shoot bullets from behind. Really difficult and requires skill as well as a bit of luck.

 Level 4 - Overall really challenging level with lots of variety.

 Sorry I didn't take more screenshots of 4 and 5, but again I took the screenshots early on before I knew the game very well. Next time I'll wait until closer to the end of the round.

As usual, the screenshots were taken with the excellent Greenshot utility.


Next, we're going to do a little something different... The music in this game is so good, I actually wanted to record some of the tracks to listen to later.

There is a command line program called M1 which can play back the music from MAME roms. Really cool. But someone also made a GUI for it called BridgeM1. Both can record wav output, although I had trouble with the newest version of M1 and instead paired BridgeM1 with M1 0.7.8a1.

Here's a couple songs from the game. They even have song titles!
Level 2: Pump them with Bullets - Just a really infectious and energetic track with a memorable chord progression

Level 5: Secret of Ogiwara - Has kind of an Asian motif, which matches the dragons in the level. The section from :18 to :38 has a really cool alternate time signature kind of feel. I counted it out though and it appears to still be in 4/4 time. Do you agree A-Lin? Neat how they accomplished that.


Replay time!


oio's comments on A-Lin's playthrough: Wow dude!! We have vastly different playing styles. You got those airplanes to help you! I did that a few times, but couldn't figure out what makes them come out.

I see you highly prefer the fixed shot weapon. Almost to a fault... You made the corridor section in level 3 harder for yourself because you weren't able to aim sideways and behind. But, you didn't panic bomb the 2nd and 3rd boss like me, and those extra bombs you are keeping really helped your score!

Never seen this spaceship come out and help on level 4, how did you do that? I'm not sure, but I don't think you meant to pick up the weapon change during the train fight on level 4? Incredible, I didn't know you could shoot those missiles on the level 4 boss before it fires them! Ouch, you lost a lot of momentum here...  All the way to level 4 boss without dying and then dying several times in a row. I hate it when that happens   :(

Level 5, lol, NOW you're using some bombs   :)   Glad to see I'm not the only one, when those dragons come out it gets really difficult. But, at least they give you a ton of bombs. TOO many once you get to those platforms!

I see you panic bombed the dragonflies too. I think if we could figure out the bullet patterns here it would give us a better chance at the boss because we would still have the bombs for it.

You got to the level 5 boss on your first credit! Really impressive. Oh no, you picked up the weapon change by accident just like me!! It started you all the way back there!?!?! That's rough.

On your second and third credit it looks like you're trying to save bombs on the dragonflies and it just didn't work out  :(   Good try though! It's probably what's needed to get through the boss. Shame you didn't get to it again, I wanted to see you trash it with your fixed shot!

organic io (in parts again... Maybe I'll purchase this Bandicam at some point):

oio's comments on his own playthrough: In contrast I prefer more balance between the fixed shot and the free aiming shot. I like the precision of the free aiming shot when it's practical, although there are many sections where it's simply better to used the fixed shot.

Around 3:39 on the levels 1-3 video, you can see where I start to panic bomb. I never really stop throughout the whole playthrough. I got tired of losing my 1st life early on in levels 2 and 3 and still having 6 or 7 bombs left and wasted, so I thought it was better to use them and survive!

I got really lucky and got super ball during the corridor section on level 3... This is when it started turning into a better than average run for me. Super ball was awesome for level 3 boss, and I was thrilled because this is the first time I had ever gotten to level 4 on my first life!

I continued to do well through the first half of level 4 with the super ball. Maybe those years of playing Rune (PC melĂ©e weapon game) paid off   :)

There's one moment at :47 on the level 4-5 video, I don't know how that bullet didn't kill me. I finally died on that catwalk because I didn't have any bombs, lol. That train is a pain,  you gotta make sure you kill it before you run out of energy. The corridor section at the end of level 4 is usually frustrating for me. I died, but I decided to panic bomb through it this time (usually I try to save those bombs for the level 4 boss)... After beating the level 4 boss without dying, I was feeling pretty heroic at this point! It was also the first time I've ever gotten to level 5 on my first credit...

The adrenaline was pumping now! Another extra life at 600,000!! I think that's the first time I'd ever done that too. Once the dragons started coming, it was time to panic bomb just like you!

The platforms!! I had only gotten to them a couple of times ever, and here I was getting to them on my first credit! At 5:42 on the level 4-5 video, you can see I wanted to avoid the flamethrower so bad that I actually walked off the edge. LOL & OOPS!

Fell off again quickly, but at this point I knew it was ON! Maybe I could even compete with you!!!
Dang flamethrower again. Unlike you my button 1 is only turbo at this time so I wasn't able to use the flamethrower properly. Hey game, thanks for the bombs! Don't mind if I use them!

OK, the mine cart / dragonfly ride. This is only the second time I had gotten to this point. I had no idea what to expect. Lots of bombs were in order because I wasn't trained on the bullet patterns here.

Boss!!! What!!!  It's so weird that the music doesn't change. I wasn't expecting those homing missiles and I walked myself off the edge! Haha.

It's pretty mean of them to make you go through the dragonflies before you fight the boss. OK, boss try #2! I was doing pretty well until I accidentally picked up the weapon change and then of course I had to stop and aim which is NOT a good thing on bosses in this game.

After that I just couldn't handle it and died quickly. But it was an incredible round for me! Highlighting the adrenaline rush you get on this game when you get further than you ever have.

Really really really cool.


Final scores!!!!

A-Lin - To the 5th boss, score on 1st credit: 848200

organic io - To the 5th boss, score on 1st credit: 677760

Wow!!! Close game! I actually kinda got further against the boss than you, but I'm gonna hand it to you since you got the better score. You kept your cool in the earlier levels and saving those bombs really helped out your score.

Well done!

Winner: A-Lin.

Awesome, just awesome.

I love Out Zone. I'm not done with this game yet, for sure.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

A few games I'd like to play for the RGC

Here's just a couple games I wouldn't mind playing for upcoming rounds...

Mega Man 2 (NES)
I played Mega Man 3 extensively as a kid, but never really played part 2. I just loaded it up a few days ago and really enjoyed it. In part 3, each boss was difficult to kill unless you had a certain weapon that you acquired from an existing boss. I'm not sure how much this plays into part 2, the 2 bosses I killed the other day were pretty easy with the default weapon. But still should be a good challenge!


Dino Riki (NES)

This game is awesome. I spent many hours playing it as a kid. It's basically a shmup with a caveman theme. It's really difficult, but can be 1cc'ed with practice.


Pilotwings (SNES)
A really cool lite Flight Sim. There's lots of variety in the challenges: Hang gliding, jetpacks, skydiving, plane, helicopter. All really fun and challenging. I've never beaten it before, though I've gotten close.


Rico - A Tale of Two Brothers
This is my favorite game for Android. But it also exists on Windows, Linux, and Mac thru Desura for only $3.49. Just a fantastic linear platformer with beautiful pixel art. Very very challenging, and very rewarding. I'd actually love to play this one week in July when I am at summer camp, it will give me something to do. Hoping to get a new android gaming device by then, as I just can't keep a functioning xperia play (keeps breaking)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mario NES Builder officially taken down :(

We played this for the excellent Round 6.

Andrew Kellogg finally got a DMCA notice from Nintendo, and as a result both his official website and the gamejolt page are down for good

That's a shame man.

I'll hold on to my copy of it, but the bigger problem is you can no longer download all the excellent levels people released. I knew I should have done a site dump of it or something. Now it's too late.

But hey, at least there's always     :)

Saturday, February 20, 2016

R-Type Leo - Post Mortem and screenshots

Wow wow wow!!!

This round got off to a slow start, but a very intense finish.

R-Type leo is a challenging horizontal shmup with a simplistic game mechanic. Button 1 fires a normal shot, and button 2 sends out what we at RGC lovingly refer to as the "evil balls of death"  :)   The balls of death go out and destroy everything on the screen and are especially useful for bosses, but they must be recharged between uses.
There are no screen clearing bombs, which adds to the challenge.

The best part of this game is the bosses. They are difficult and have lots of variety to them. Levels 5 and beyond really push the limits of how many bullets it is reasonable to throw at you when your hitbox is as big as the ship like this.

Now it's screenshot time!

Level 1 - It starts off slow and easy...
 Level 1 boss. Its arms come out and attack you, and it shoots a fairly large laser from the middle
 Level 2 - Desert... The pace starts to pick up a little bit
 Level 2 boss - very cool and challenging with these large spinning walls of blue bullets
 Level 3 is where the men are separated from the boys...
 Level 3 boss is insane and I usually can't get past it without dying once or twice

 Level 4 can get kinda claustrophobic. A-Lin showed me the way of using the blue laser to reflect off the ceilings here
 Level 4 boss - Sorry for the lame screenshot, I took these before I knew the game very well. This is probably my favorite boss. Tons of bullets to dodge.
 Level 5 - This is where things get absolutely insane

A-Lin's final playthrough video here:

organic io's final playthrough video here (2 parts):

One final thing to mention... A-Lin, when you posted your actual numerical score, I didn't know how meaningful that would be. I wondered whether it was the score on your first credit, or the score on your 3rd credit. Then when I watched my final playthrough I realized this game is unique in that it actually keeps your score between credits... So it's actually the total score of all 3 credits! Very cool and meaningful for guys like us  :)    Most games don't do that I don't think.

So who won?
Drumroll please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Final scores:

Score: 863500
Level: Mid-way of final area

organic io:
Score: 830500
Level: Beginning of final area

Of coursee!!!!!  You win when we shoot stuff!!!!   :-D

Great round. Stay tuned for the conclusion of Out Zone coming up tomorrow night...

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

"Currently Playing" and "Next Game" on the sidebar

Since I am posting so much stuff that is not game rounds, they are getting kind of buried in the blog posts. R-Type Leo is still active and it's something like 9 posts down!

Therefore I have added a little "Currently Playing" to the sidebar. That way we can easily remember and also visitors to the site will be able to see what the active round is. It also shows the next game planned underneath.

Simple but functional.

Lost games which have recently been released

We don't have to definitely play these, I just wanted to shed some light on them and propose them as options for some point in the future.

First we have "Blaze" for Amiga. It's a Sonic clone that was coded in 1993 and just released in 2015

Next, we have "Wonderland Dizzy" for NES. I have always wanted to play a Dizzy game but never sat down for very long with one.

"Putty Squad" for Genesis / Megadrive. According to, the game was developed for Amiga, SNES, Genesis and PC, but only the SNES version ever hit the shelves. Unsure whether the levels are different on the Genesis version.

"Beyond Kung Fu" for arcade. Sequel to a game I've never heard of called "Kung Fu Master"

And we can always check out some of those new NES games that they are still making these days   :)
The game was originally developed in the mid-Nineties for the Amiga 1200, SNES, Mega Drive and PC, but of these four only the SNES version ever reached the shelves. - See more at:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

New Logo :-D

So, the site has a new logo.... Let's take a look...

Hey, why is your gun bigger than mine!?! Haha, I used a really small glue gun. Also I didn't think about how busy the background behind me would be. But in the green I kinda like it.

The colors are an obscure homage to the IBM PC CGA color palette 0. The much more common CGA palette was palette 1 with the cyan, magenta, black and white, like this:

But, there were some games that used the yellow, red, green and black palette.

Inspiration from stuff like this:

Obscure, I know. 

That's why we are the Retro game club, not the Call of Duty 15 gameclub    :-D

Let me know what you think. Modifications can be made if necessary  :)

Long lost shmup "Wing Force" discovered


Back in the early Nineties, Atlus had grown from a publisher of console games into an ambitious outfit with designs on the arcade market. While the company would spend most of the decade in the coin-op game, its own developments were quickly sidelined in favour of publishing games from external developers, most notably Cave. However, a remnant of the company’s early attempts to break into the market has recently been found and preserved via emulation.
Wing Force was set to hit the market in 1993 before being cancelled for unknown reasons. A prototype PCB appeared on Yahoo Auctions Japan late last year and ended up selling for a whopping ¥301,000 (£1744.41 at today’s exchange rate). Luckily the buyer was Shmups forum member Shou, who promised to preserve the game and did exactly that. The game will be on its way to MAME shortly, but if you can’t wait there’s a video above.

Exciting! Could definitely be a candidate after the Anaglyph Quake round.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

USB Polling speed

I was just doing a little reading about how to reduce input lag in MAME.

Hopefully I already don't have much, since I'm using Shmupmame, which is designed specifically to reduce input lag.

But I came across an interesting little post...

In it, he says:

"I've also noticed that Win7 USB poll rates are 125hz aka 8ms by default; granted there are a few hacks to force the 1000hz (1ms) rate"

What!!! You mean to say that it is possible to shave 7ms off the input by doing some hacking?

7ms difference might not sound like much, but I will say with absolute certainty, when I was working on tweaking the latency on my e-drums, I could DEFINITELY tell the difference between 10ms latency and 5ms latency. I tried to get it as low as possible and it just "felt" better to play drums that way!

So who says that it isn't the same for game inputs? What if our brains can notice the subtle difference of having a faster input, and therefore play better?

I think it's definitely worth researching anyway...   As the famous Tim Allen would say...

So, in my initial research it appears that most people are using this "USB overclocking" for their mice, to get additional precision on high DPI gaming mice. Makes sense. 

But I think it's worth researching for arcade gaming as well.

Unfortunately, I have already read several accounts of people damaging or frying USB ports on their motherboard by "overclocking" them to 1000hz. 

So is it worth the risk? I'm not sure....   There's the saying "Tis better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all".. But I'm not sure if it also applies to "Tis better to have attempted to overclock your USB port and accidentally fry your motherboard than to never have attempted to overclock your USB port at all".... LOL

From what I understand:

125hz (default) = 8ms
250hz = 4ms
500hz = 2ms
1000hz = 1ms

If 1000hz is the one that is most likely to damage the board, then maybe I'll just try 500hz and still shave off 6ms latency!

So my next question is: Will this affect all USB ports on my system or just a single port? I don't really think I need to overclock my USB sound interface.

I found this statement:

The HIDUSBF method only affects the specific device you apply the polling rate change to. There was an older method for Windows XP and earlier that patched the system usb port driver and affected all devices

And indeed, the HIDUSBF method seems to be the best, at least on Windows. I've found several sources:  - Gives some general info about it including another reminder that 1000hz may fry your motherboard

and - Includes the download.

Now I hope I can make this work with keyboard and gamepad and not just mice!

Regarding safety, here is probably the most useful page I have found:

If you have a legacy device (old printer/scanner) they can be subject to overheating if you inadvertently set their ports polling rate to 500/1000Hz.
Particularly inside older scanners (which run quite hot due to the light source), the circuitry containing the small buffer and I/O gubbins is usually an afterthought, crammed into a corner of the device with no ventilation. As a result they run rather hot/marginal in the first place, and giving them more work to do with the higher polling rate causes more heat and is/was enough to send them over the edge :(

Similar problems happen with cheap 4 port USB adapters which draw power from the port itself; they can easily overheat and worse can even draw too much power from the port (when several devices are connected, all trying to run at 250hz etc) where in the best case the port gets turned off, worst being it burns out the circuitry driving that cluster of ports on the motherboard.

In short, it's not just a case of 'telling the OS to poll the port at xxx times a second' ; if your not careful bad shit can happen.

You CAN damage peripheral(s) and the motherboard itself permanently if you are careless.

Fascinating! So hopefully all the reports of people damaging stuff were people on older hardware where they were overclocking ALL USB ports and probably inadvertently heating up components and then overloading the entire USB bus.

So as you can probably tell by now, I have definitely decided to go ahead and try this!!!

I think my first thing to do before installing it, is to do a little test run in Outzone of my movement with the USB keyboard, doing a bunch of fast movements, so I can get a feel for how it currently is.

OK, it's fast but it definitely doesn't seem instantaneous.

So I tried doing the HIDUSBF method. First I tried it with the Keyboard. There is a nice little utility just referred to as "setup.exe", but is actually called "USB Mouse Rate Adjuster setup". It seems to be targeted at Mice, but you can uncheck a little box called "Mouses only", and it shows the other USB devices and gives you the option of changing their USB polling rates.

So I changed the keyboard to 500hz. Rebooted the computer. Now the keyboard won't respond! Not even numlock or capslock. So I changed it to a different USB port. It re-installed the drivers and worked fine, but according to the utility,  it was no longer overclocked. Put it back in the original port, and it showed up again and said it was overclocked, but again it just didn't respond.

Next I tried overclocking my gamepad (and setting my keyboard back down to regular speed). Rebooted again. This time, the keyboard still doesn't work on that USB port, and the gamepad no longer responds either. Doh.

So I set the gamepad back to stock. Rebooted. It works again, but keyboard still not responding on that usb port.

Just out of curiosity, I wanted to make sure that USB port is still functioning! Plugged in a $20 android phone I got the other day to use as an mp3 player. It is charging and syncing fine.

Weird about the keyboard and that port then.

SO...   I'm stuck wondering, did I do something wrong, or is it not working because these utilities are primarily designed for mice?

Now to do a little search about gamepad/joysticks...

Unfortunately I can't really find anybody trying to do this specifically with gamepads/joysticks. I found a little info about a keyboard, but that's about it.

Also unfortunately, I tried one more time to make it work with the gamepad, and now I'm having the same problem, I can't get the gamepad to work on that specific USB port anymore.


At this point I'm just ready to give up and see if I can reverse the changes so I can at least use these device/port combinations again.

I was about to say "Thank the gods of Toaplan, there's a way to uninstall it!", but unfortunately, uninstalling it still didn't fix the problem.

Ironically, the gamepad works in the port that won't see the keyboard, and the keyboard works in the port that won't see the gamepad. But those particular device/port combinations are now somehow blacklisted and I'm not really sure how to fix them.


Oh well.

I guess it's better than actually frying my motherboard   :)

I'm done tinkering for now. Later on I'll try to find a permanent solution to get my ports working again.

In the meantime, I'm not sure whether I would recommend trying this in Linux. Given that everything is about 4x more difficult and time consuming in Linux, then I can see this being a total waste of time. But maybe it would somehow be easier. I don't know.


I tried, but ultimately failed. No 6ms input increase for me.... TODAY at least!

May the quest for more power continue!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Do you ever TATE?

TATE is the Japanese term for an arcade game where the monitor is configured vertically, as in 3:4 ratio.

(Trivia: Since it's a Japanese word, I think it's pronounced with 2 syllables, like "Tah tay", and not like us Westerners would make it rhyme with "mate" or something)

Where traditional TV's were 4:3 and new TV's are 16:9, where they are longer horizontally than vertically, TATE means it is longer vertically than horizontally.

The last 2 games we played are a perfect example of the difference between the two.

Out Zone (TATE), 3:4 aspect ratio

R-Type Leo (YOKO (aka horizontal)), 4:3 aspect ratio

The "problem" comes when playing TATE games on a horizontal monitor, the image becomes small and letterboxed, like this:

Noooooo!!! Huge black lines! Wasted screen space! It makes my brain hurt from the inefficiency of it  :)

So the way to fix this, is of course to turn your monitor sideways   :)

When I had a desktop computer setup with an enormous (and heavy) 21" CRT, I would actually do this and rotate my monitor before playing TATE games like Dodonpachi, etc. It was awesome because the game perfectly fit my screen.

Now that I'm on a laptop with I believe a 16:10 screen, it's a little different.

I tried rotating it just now. Aside from the fact that it's awkward to rotate a laptop (you have to balance it at an angle), LCD's just don't have the same viewing angles as CRT's do. So I noticed it looked kind of weird, like it was washed out on the right side of the screen. I'm assuming because the LCD is intended for a horizontal viewing angle, so when you TATE it, the light beams aren't hitting your eyes at the intended angles and it looks weird.

That's really unfortunate.

So I guess I'll just keep playing with the letterbox for now. But one day maybe I'll set up a MAME cabinet with a nice CRT.

So A-Lin, do you TATE?


Round 8 - Out Zone (c) 1990 by Toaplan

We have slightly over 1 week to play this one. The score deadline will be next Saturday morning Bulgaria Time and Friday night Eastern Time, that way organic io can play 1 more time after work next Friday night.

I'll also finish up my R-Type Leo final score before the end of the Out Zone round, and that way we can get started on Anaglyph Quake shortly after   :-D

Out Zone is made by Toaplan, the same guys who some of which later formed Cave! It has really nice music and graphics, and tough as nails gameplay.

Goal will be as usual: See how far you can get with 3 credits. Go go go!!!!