What to do with an old arcade machine board?

Fat Abbot

The answer? The same as what Ashley Madison users do with not-their-wives. Mount it!

This board has been gathering dust for years – and finally it has been moved to a place of honour on the wall.

ST-V was supposedly named after a moon of Saturn: the Sega Titan Video game system. The Sega ST-V system was essentially the same tech that was in the Sega Saturn home console, converted for arcade – but instead of using CDs, it runs games off big chunky cartridges. Seriously, that cart is huge – about four times the size of a N64 game.

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I’ve read reports that the system was released in 2005, though this particular one is clearly marked 2004.

The cartridge pictured is an interesting one – initially released as Dynamite Deka in Japan, it was re-badged as Die Hard Arcade overseas to capitalise on the movie of the same name. However, it has absolutely nothing to do with Die Hard, other than you play a cop that beats people up.

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I have fond memories of Die Hard Arcade from my 90s childhood – but as a system derived from the sadly underwhelming Sega Saturn (which I still maintain as the fault of game developers rather than the beloved console), on the wall is probably the best place for it.

framed

5 games for the LAN Of Our Lives

Fat Abbot

How do you truly celebrate a significant birthday of a UCHG member? By creating a LAN party of some of the best multiplayer games of all time, that’s how. And how to best run a LAN party in the summer? The answer is simple: you run it outside.

There’s a backstory to this. Between 2000-2007, we as a group of friends and like-minded gamers were in some kind of education system, and it was around this time that we discovered the joys of the LAN party. For the uninitiated, a LAN is essentially achieved by carting gaming machines into one location: resulting in a funnier, more personal version of online gaming. What began in internet cafés soon ventured into our own homes, but lack of space and rising heat from early Windows XP-era desktops (not to mention our teenage male selves) drove us to seek an alternative location.

Garden games

Coldness

A trip to Maplin and discovery of a 25m network cable produced an idea. After all, for years family members had been saying – “why don’t you stop sitting around indoors and go play outside?” – and, well, now was an opportunity to do just that.

The addition of a marquee provided essential protection from that old enemy sunlight, and we were good to go for many, many summers.

PC gaming, circa 2000-2005

Outside

This year, summer is not only a milestone for our valued member Ross, but marks the 10th anniversary of our very first outdoor LAN. As August 2015 comes to an end, we will be celebrating with a LAN reunion – we’ve of course been gaming together ever since, but this one is different.

Much has changed since the noughties – clunky CRT monitors now firmly a thing of the past – but will we be playing the latest installment of Call of Battlefield Honor Strike 4? Of course not. Across two days we’ll be digging out the games from the times we remember fondest – and here’s a brief rundown of what’ll be going down.

Counter Strike 1.6 (2000)

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What hasn’t been said about this beloved ruiner of friendships and keyboards? In our minds, yes CS: Source is great (and we’ll certainly be returning to that too) – but nothing speaks of hilarious LAN moments more than those earlier pre-Steam Counter Strike versions. Truly legendary level design means de_dust, de_prodigy, cs_assault, cs_militia will never be forgotten. Mods that added bots and hilarious skins make this a LAN party classic.

1001 No.97: Serious Sam: The First Encounter (2001)

ss1

Who cares that it makes no sense? Seeing one of your friends fire a cannonball into a scorpion’s face, while another dressed as Santa Claus is thrown through the air by a bull, as a man with no head runs at you while going “aaaaahhhh” – there’s nothing else like it. Stupidly large numbers of enemies and a crazy sense of humour helped Serious Sam take the essence of Doom to another, and madder, level – and spawned many copycats that came after. 4 player coop through the whole campaign is a must.

Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (2002)

MOHAA

The movie Saving Private Ryan had a massive impact on us back when we were in school, and MOHAA basically let us play it. With Spielberg as one of the writers, and an actual D-Day level, it’s just as lasting in our minds as the movie. In the early 2000s we stumbled across a coop mod – and we were pleased to discover it is still very much alive and working well to this day. Hilarity will ensue.

1001 No.95: Garry’s Mod (2004)

de_port0030

Before Minecraft, there was Garry’s Mod: the ultimate in sandbox games. What started as a modification of Half Life 2 has effectively over time become a game in it’s own right. The ability to take the resources from various Valve related games (including Half Life and Counter Strike) means you can pretty much create what you like – as long as your imagination is large enough.

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The UCHG did various silly things with it, including a deadly game of cricket with an electrified rolling mine for a ball (and a shotgun of justice for cheaters); and contests to make cars, boats, and flying machines. Brad even made some particularly deadly traps for zombies…

1001 No.96: Battlefield 2 (2005)

Despite all the variants of the franchise that followed, Battlefield 2 still holds a special place in our hearts. Some of the level design is pure genius, evidenced by the fact that all these years later people are still playing Strike at Karkand and Gulf of Oman.

And while Battlefield 3 and 4 may have improved the graphics by a good mile, there’s something about the purity of the gameplay that makes BF2 so good. No unlocks, no grinding through the experience points, no being held to ransom over the best kit – strip away all the layers that have since been added, and you’re left with something much simpler, but somehow stronger.

Once you’re down to a more basic level of gameplay, it becomes like a game of paintball – the only real winners will be those taking risks. If you’ve got the guts, hell yeah you can jump in a jeep and careen it through to a position deep in enemy territory. Take that point, and you might just turn the tide.

Here’s a taste of what we used to get up to, and what we’ll be getting back to.

Happy Birthday Ross; Happy Birthday LAN; and happy 10 years of playing outside with your mates. It’ll certainly be a LAN to remember. And this won’t be the last!

Filmed myself Beat-ing it

Fat Abbot

Back to the 1001!

And after about 2 years since actually buying this incredible (well, just incredibly weird) DS game, I’ve given it a go.

1001 No.94: Elite Beat Agents (2006)

Basically, people who are in trouble for whatever bizarre reason (including Leonardo da Vinci trying to please the woman from the Mona Lisa, go figure) call the Elite Beat Agents. They proceed to show up and Beat It, like really hard and fast. Seems to solve all life’s problems.

EliteBeatAgents

It’s a rhythm-based music game of course, not a jacking-off simulator. But I filmed myself doing it anyway. The video is of course awful, because of trying to film a DS while tapping it like a mad bastard, but it’s there for the archive. And because you wouldn’t believe the content if I just told you.

It features two women trapped on a deserted island, who for some reason are so hot they can attract planes and all kinds of animals to do their bidding. It makes less sense than Nigel Farage’s next job as a judge on Poland’s Got Talent.

This below is a much better representation of how the game should be played, by someone much better. It’s the last boss level, which was one of the most frustrating experiences in gaming that I’ve EVER HAD.

So remember – if you’re having problems in your life, shout loud enough and three people in suits will show up and start beating it right in front of you. SORTED.

Shaken, not stirred…

PimpMstGeneral

I recently completed a little game called Counterspy on PSN.

This is an espionage-action 2D side-scrolling game with a heavy 1960’s influenced art style. The art style feels quiet cell shaded and reminds me heavily of Evil Genius (which was partly what drew me to playing it). I’ve got to say it’s a lot of fun.

counterspy-agency

The game play is mostly fast paced pick-up-and-play action and the levels are all fairly short and proceduraly generated, so you shouldn’t face the same military base twice (although you will notice similar sections).

Using cover allows you to get a 3D perspective on various areas, shooting down corridors to knock out security cameras or drop the guard at the back of the room minding his own business.

counterspy-cover

The game play is less run and gun and more stealth and plotting, well, before everything goes wrong and you need to shoot a lot of nameless goons in the face. I appreciate a game that doesn’t necessarily throw you down a single lane, but let’s you choose your gameplay style.

If you want to kick the door down and go in guns blazing, by all means – take a rocket launcher and blow up the base – but, if you want to try your hand at sneaking about and stealth killing it’s a lot of fun and way more challenging to get away with, you can always fall back to blasting your way through too.

CounterSpy-base

The difficulty seems to scale quite well as you gather more information about the Soviets and/or Allies, with the game adding more enemies to the bases and creating more complex situations to solve. Ammo isn’t unlimited, but rather than preserving it (which isn’t really an option most of the time) you just need to make sure you come equipped with the right weaponry; there are ammo refill points on some levels (again – randomly generated) but that will only get you so far and although there’s no knife, you can snap necks or just punch the guards in the face.

CounterSpy-outside

The game is quite light-hearted and doesn’t take itself too seriously – there’s a silenced pistol you get early on called The Diplomatic Pistol – an appropriate name if I ever heard one.

Silenced pistols are always a good choice – use them.

Let There Be Light!

Pvt.Party

It has to be said that I am more of a destroyer than a creator. I am much more at home taking things to pieces than I am creating something new. I do however have my moments, and this week was a particularly good moment.

I took a weeks leave from work and set about doing all the things you do when you are not working. Sorting through old cupboards, beating it, giving the house a good clean, beating it, a spot of decorating, more beating it and making a NES Zapper into a lamp. Yeah that’s right. I said making a NES Zapper into a lamp!

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Now I am not afraid to admit that I am mega proud of this one. In fact I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite between the Lamp and the Zombie Box.

So here comes the science part. First off I broke a lamp. This gave me all the light based gubbins I would need.

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After the lamp had been killed to death I set about the careful deconstruction of the Zapper. My aim was to have as little impact on the frame of the gun as possible. I wanted to keep the option open to convert it back to a light gun should I ever want to – I am happy to report that this is possible!

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Taking the Zapper apart not only gave me spares for my other Zappers but also let me get a good look at that super satisfying trigger. I wanted to keep this functional in the lamp. Ideally I wanted it to be the on/off switch.

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Once the Zapper had been gutted I needed to cut the lamp pole thing down to size. It needed to be long enough to support the bulb and shade, but short enough to fit in the barrel of the zapper. I took a quick look at the lamp pole, had a glance at the barrel and then I cut a chunk off the pole – Luckily it was the perfect fit.

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The plan was to use a NES cart as the base for the Zapper Lamp. There could be only one cart for the job and that cart was Duck Hunt! I sacrificed one of my many copies of this glorious game and drilled some holes. These holes would be used to screw the Zapper to the cart for a secure and professional finish.

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I was now ready to start putting everything together. I gave the main body of the gun a go on its new base. This revealed the gun to be sitting somewhat on the piss so corrective action was required.

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Whilst I considered my options to straighten things up, I set about running in the lamp bits. The grooves in the barrel that used to house the lens came in real handy for keeping the lamp straight in the gun. I popped a washer in place of the lens and used an exact amount of black tape to fix the lamp pole in place.

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Next I ran the cable through the gun and secured the trigger back in place. Sadly I could not get the trigger set up as the switch for the light. Not yet anyway…

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Once everything was screwed back together and locked down to the base. It was time to give a test! I over came the bentness by popping a cheeky little Game Boy game under the bottom of the shooter. It turns out they are the perfect height and, in my opinion, add to the greatness of the lamp.

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All it needed now was a new shade and we were done. My excitement was hampered slightly by my the one error I made. Once I had finished this fine piece of Nerd Porn/Art I made the fatal error of showing it to a girl. She described it as “kind of cool but also really ugly.” (like your mum!) She then went on to add that this was a worthwhile use of my time off! – a comment heavy-laden with sarcasm.  I did what every self respecting proud nerd would do. I told her to piss off and went back to enjoying my new lamp.

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