Video Games

Thundercade Arcade Longplay.

posted Feb 22, 2014, 8:59 PM by Darryl Giors   [ updated Feb 22, 2014, 9:14 PM ]

Darryl's Near Perfect Longplay *audio out of sync

There have been many arcade games through the years that I have learned to flip or pass on a single quarter.  For some I earned that achievement through the help of the MAME emulator thus saving untold rolls of quarters.

In 2009 I got quite good at Thundercade on emulation.  It's a top down shooter in which you're a daredevil on a armed motocycle. You can gain upgrades in firepower in the form of left and right sidecars and you can call in a limited number of airstrikes (bombs).  Enemies and background structures often take many hits to destroy.  Your weapons fire only one round per cannon (up to 4 cannons) per button press.  This one's a real button masher.  Despite the rugged enemies your poor motorcycle is killed by a single shot or collision, although you can run down enemy soldiers in a pinch.  In addition the left and right sidecars can be shot off your vehicle without losing a life.  It just downgrades your firepower. 

It's a pretty typical military shooter from the 80's.  The motorcycle aesthetic is ,however, unusual.

I made many attempts to record a perfect longplay with zero deaths.  This one is the best I captured in which I lost only one life.  Not my best ever but it's the best I recorded for posterity.  No cheats or rapid fire here, just nerves of steel.

The strategy is pretty typical for this type of shooter.  Maximize your firepower and attempt to destroy as many enemies as possible before they get too far down screen and pose a serious close range threat.  Memorization of levels and every single enemy position helps to focus firepower where it's needed and anticipate incoming projectiles.  Last but not least dodge like crazy because everybody's shootin'!

Check it out on Youtube for comments and more details.

My Entry for Alternate Reality the City Contest at Atari Age

posted Sep 5, 2012, 4:49 AM by Darryl Giors   [ updated Sep 5, 2012, 7:35 PM ]

May 3, 2008 

I've been toying with the idea of submitting a new character in the Atari Age Alternate Reality the City contest for quite some time. I've finally made my submission and my entry is in progress. The contest is unofficial and it began a few years ago so my submission is a bit late.

Got a dagger for 170 copper
Since my submission a few days ago I have not heard from the forum moderators regarding my entry. Hopefully somebody will take notice and perhaps award me a place as my entry progresses. I didn't want to flood the forum all at once so I'm going to track my progress with an entry every few days.

Check out my entry here.

About the contest:

The Alternate Reality the City contest is for fun. There is no prize awarded. Quote from the forum moderator, "The purpose of this competition is to have fun, share your experiences with others and test your skill at surviving in one of the greatest, most challenging, ground-breaking RPG games of the 20th century, Alternate Reality: The City for Atari 800. All players will receive a rank and posting of their highest character, so post your screenshots and participate!" The rules are that there will be absolutely no cheating and you may not use a back up your character to revive them or retry a situation. If your character dies you are done. You can roll a new character at any time and try again. Everything is on the honor system.

Link the the contest's forum page for more information.

Why Alternate Reality at

posted Sep 5, 2012, 4:22 AM by Darryl Giors   [ updated Sep 5, 2012, 7:35 PM ]

June 28, 2008 

You may have noticed many posts in the video games section have to do with Alternate Reality.  What is Alternate Reality? It is a computer RPG (Role Playing Game) that was originally released on the Atari 8-bit computers in 1984.  It was ported to AR Wrapper screenshotmany other computers of the time.  There was a very substantial sequel released in 1986 with many other sequels planned but never released.  To this day the game Alternate Reality the City and it's sequel Alternate Reality the Dungeon are two of my favorite computer games. That's no mean feat after 25 years of gaming on almost every platform out there. There are already many websites dedicated to the game maintained by fans all around the world. There is also a mailing-list for the fans and several people are developing Alternate Reality utilities, remakes and spinoffs. There's plenty to discover about Alternate Reality whether or not you are new to the series or a seasoned veteran.

Instead of re-inventing the wheel, I'm seeking to offer Alternate Reality content that the other guys don't have. I've even landed an exclusive software release that will be available here July 1st.

Some links

If you don't know yet what Alternate Reality is about I recommend visiting The Original Alternate Reality Page.

The AR Mailing List can be found here . I'm a full-time reader and occasional contributor. There is an online archive with past messages. is host to an interesting remake project continuing to move forward.

There are more links to check out on my links page.

Download AR Wrapper from the files section

AR Wrapper

AR Wrapper is a brand new utility coded by Richard White. I have been involved in play testing the utility for the past several months. Richard is being kind enough to offer an exclusive to host AR Wrapper V1.0 at it's launch on July 1st! All fans will rejoice in the feature list presented on the announcement page.

I'm starting to sound like one of those late night sales pitches. Really, it is as good as it sounds. I'd hate to go back to using the emulator without AR Wrapper. It's a great convenience and time saver. It allows you to enjoy the game and bypass many of the inconveniences of regular play.

I look forward to seeing many of you on the site tomorrow to download this excellent tool. I'm sure you'll enjoy it and find it as indispensable as I do. 

Alternate Reality Zombies

posted Sep 4, 2012, 10:23 PM by Darryl Giors   [ updated Sep 4, 2012, 10:26 PM ]

February 19, 2008

Some fun mock-ups for the AR fans out there. 

If these screenshots don't make any sense to you then you probably need to watch this video:

Zombie Kid

In addition to the frivolity of my screenshot mockups I'm going to drop a little teaser. I'm currently assisting somebody with an AR project that will likely be the biggest news in the AR community since... well, a long time. There have been so many projects that have turned up vaporware in the past. This project looks like it will buck the trend. Look here for official announcements at the end of February. I wish I could say more but I'm sworn to secrecy.

Download AR Wrapper Now!

posted Sep 4, 2012, 9:43 PM by Darryl Giors   [ updated Aug 6, 2013, 7:18 PM ]

June 28, 2008

Visit the Files section or click the button below to download your copy now. 
Download button


After a few delays AR Wrapper is now available from  Take a look at the preliminary FAQ .  Please check back often for the latest release version.  Your comments on this page will be forwarded to the developer.


AR Wrapper

AR Wrapper is a brand new utility coded by Richard White. Richard has been kind enough to offer an exclusive to host AR Wrapper V1.0!
  • Runs both Alternate Reality the City and Alternate Reality the Dungeon in the excellent Atari800Win emulator (8-bit Atari)
  • Easy installation, just unzip files into a folder and double click the program file. No complicated emulator setup!
  • Single click character creation. No more disk swapping to get started in the games!
  • Single click load and save features to quickly save your progress!
  • All disk swaps are handled by the wrapper!
  • Auto-Warp speeds disk access!
  • City to Dungeon transfer. Effortlessly transport your character from the City to the Dungeon, again without disk swaps!
  • A cheat button to help you out in a pinch, but for a Price!
  • Game reboot capabilities to ensure stable gameplay in the long run!
  • Documentation and box art!
  • EASTER EGGS!  Challenge yourself to discover hidden stuff. Shhh, we're not telling.
  • No joystick necessary.

Achievement Points, What's the Point?

posted Sep 4, 2012, 9:34 PM by Darryl Giors   [ updated Sep 4, 2012, 9:35 PM ]

February 9, 2008

Anybody who owns an Xbox 360 is probably familiar with the system's achievement points. Most commercial games for the system have up to 1000 points you can earn which get added to your Xbox Live user's gamerscore.

What's most impressive about the system is the frenzy it has caused online with numerous websites and game FAQs explaining how to milk every achievement point from Xbox 360 games. Although the points don't have any redeemable value, it's interesting that I have caught myself playing my 360 games differently so that I can unlock the many achievements available.

Achievement points remind me of days long ago where people would challenge each other at Arcade games, trying to outscore one another. AP takes this concept online where you can earn bragging rights by comparing your score to others you encounter. It's actually a great motivator to do well in the games you own because there is a "measuring stick" for your progress that others can review.

Even though I like the AP system, it does seem biased in a few ways.
  1. People who buy more games can obviously earn more AP. Usually over half of the points can be earned in a single playthrough. Each subsequent playthrough has diminishing returns. A person who owns 20 games and earns half of the points in each will likely not have to work nearly as hard as a person who owns 10 games and earns perfect scores in each.
  2. Play time is often the determining factor in earning achievements. A casual gamer, no matter how skilled will miss many AP such as defeating X number of enemies in single player or online. They will likely miss other achievements that require finding every hidden item of a particular type in a huge game world.
  3. Repetitive play is rewarded. In days passed people would measure their progress by how much of a game they have completed. Finishing a game once was typically considered completing the game. Now many achievements require you to finish the game multiple times on different difficulties or using different characters on each playthrough etc. There seems to be a trend that games are getting shorter with the expectation that you will replay the same content over and over again.

Even though I find AP to favor the full-time gamers of the world, I have to admit that they are fun to earn and give you a target to aim for. Who said you need to earn all of the AP for a game? Perhaps some achievements are there simply as a reward for going the extra mile. If you continue playing a game for months online isn't it nice to receive some recognition for doing so?

My conclusion is that achievement points do enhance the gaming experience, but they get in the way of having fun in a game when they become the sole focus. There have been a few games that I am very fond of that I made a point of earning all of the AP. Did I change my play style to do so? Indeed. Did I still have fun? Of course. If you truly enjoy a game you may keep playing it even though there is nothing new to see or do. At least with achievement points there is some sort of goal that lasts well beyond the completion of the game. Would I play a game I dislike just to get the AP? No. Period. I suppose that's the point. If you enjoy doing action Y for X number of times then why not go for the AP? If you are feeling put out or that getting there is a grind you may want to reconsider why you are playing and do something that is actually fun.

A Friend's MAME Cabinet

posted Sep 4, 2012, 7:32 PM by Darryl Giors   [ updated Sep 6, 2012, 10:40 AM ]

February 27, 2008

Brandon's MAME Cabinet

Time for a weekend update. Here at I've focused on quality over quantity. I could write about my excellent late evening meal at Petrillo's in Glendora on Saturday night or about Dim Sum at NBC in Alhambra for lunch Sunday, instead, I'm going to tell you about an arcade cabinet and write one of the longest run-on sentences you've ever read. Come on in and let me tell you the fantastic story of this incredible MAME machine.

First of all let me explain what MAME is. Multi Arcade Machine Emulator is an ongoing open source project that emulates arcade machines spanning from the 1970's to the early 2000's. From the MAME website: MAME is strictly a non-profit project. Its main purpose is to be a reference to the inner workings of the emulated arcade machines. This is done both for educational purposes and for preservation purposes, in order to prevent many historical games from disappearing forever once the hardware they run on stops working. Of course, in order to preserve the games and demonstrate that the emulated behavior matches the original, you must also be able to actually play the games. This is considered a nice side effect, and is not MAME's primary focus.

Despite what the developers claim, most people who use MAME have one thing in mind, they want to play some of the classic arcade games they loved in the past but cannot find anywhere today.

So that brings us to the story of Brandon and Michelle. A few years ago my friend Brandon and his girlfriend Michelle (they are now married) set out to construct their own arcade cabinet. They started out by drawing up plans and purchasing arcade controllers and JAMMA PC conversion boards from the internet. Brandon's father has a well equipped woodshop in his garage so Brandon bought sheets of plywood, lumber and hardware to build the cabinet.

He salvaged an old Samsung computer monitor from his work and hobbled together parts for a Windows XP computer system. Mame was installed on the system then set aside.

After many months of preparation and hard work cutting, nailing, sanding, painting, wiring and testing they had created the cabinet you see in the gallery below.Brandon posted a nice pictorial on an internet forum when he was building the cabinet. If I can find the URL and the site is not defunct I'll post a link to it here.

The Samsung monitor mentioned earlier is mounted in the cabinet and the computer system rests recessed inside the cabinet.

It's quite a nice job they did. The MAME cabinet was always a hit at parties and during poker night at Brandon and Michelle's house.

So what does all of this have to do with my weekend?

Brandon and Michelle are moving out of their current residence and temporarily moving into a smaller place. They won't have room for the MAME cabinet after they move so they asked me if I wanted to do them a HUGE FAVOR and borrow it for a year. You read that right, I'm doing THEM a favor.

On Sunday after the delicious Dim Sum lunch with Brandon and Michelle (and mutual friend Ed), I picked up the cabinet from their house. They accompanied me to my condo to install it into the corner of my dining nook. I'm glad they were along to help because that thing is monstrously heavy. It's like lifting a refrigerator without the benefit of door handles. Alright, lifting a fridge by the door handles would probably bust it. Sadly, with the MAME cabinet you don't even have the option!

The cabinet is in working condition, however I'm furnishing an upgraded computer for the MAME emulation as a THANK YOU to Brandon and Michelle. I'm in the process of installing the software onto the newer computer so I should be able to enjoy some great arcade-perfect gaming right in my dining room shortly.

It's a joy to have what amounts to an entire arcade full of games within your house.

Now who wants to play doubles on Street Fighter II Championship Turbo Edition?  Brandon and Michelle are now married and maintain a family website. They are expecting a baby boy in June.


I should mention that a couple of weeks ago the MAME cabinet found a new home. Brandon and Michelle have moved to Lancaster with their baby boy Riley. Imagine the joy of growing up with an arcade machine that plays thousands of authentic games. Some kids have all the luck 8)
Congrats to M & B on their new home and expanded family!

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