Wednesday, 30 April 2014

LED Storm on the Amiga

Review by Madstedotcom
Who doesn’t remember the World Rally of 2011, jumping cars bouncing along elevated roads at break neck speeds…wait I can’t remember this. However if you want to experience this look no further than LED Storm. LED Storm or Mad Gear (as its known in some territories) began its life as a Capcom arcade game. The basic premise is to race along avoiding obstacles and other competitors, some of whom will jump onto your car to slow you down, while collecting energy power ups. If you run out of energy its game over. As already mentioned your car can jump which can be used to collect floating power ups, jump gaps in the road, or to crush other cars if you land on them.
The Amiga version obviously does not match up to the graphics of the arcade version also the speech from the arcade game has not made the transition to the Amiga. The more glaring omission is the ability to pick your car. There are numerous stages (I have only seen 3 or 4) that vary from floating highway to forests to deserts which are similar to its arcade counterpart. However the game play from the arcade as been captured pretty well, the car controls well and is responsive. The only issue here is the floating transporter that returns you to the road after a bad crash or fall off the road is very very slow. While not the deepest game it does have a charm that keeps you wanting one more go to get that bit further or to make that jump.

While not stunning they are very clear and functional. The only concern here is the smallish game play area.
The controls work great and it is a fun pick up and play type game that makes one more go turn into twenty more.
The tunes as  you race along are really good, however would have liked better sound effects and some speech.
This is the first time I played the Amiga version, only played the Arcade version and the excellent Spectrum version (which is quite a bit tougher with longer levels) back in the day. However I have spent way too much playing this rather than writing about it.
I am finding it a little tough to be objective as this game holds a special place in my childhood, that is why I decided to focus on this version rather than ones I played before. Its a good game that will easily fill 30 minutes or so, not sure about longer sessions. It captures the original game and while not brilliant it neither does anything really badly, a solid if unspectacular effort.
P.S. However if I’m being honest I would say if you can play the arcade version!

Cricket Master and Test Master on the Spectrum

Review by Madstedotcom
Summer’s here so its time to get the whites out of the loft and head down to the local pitch, or for the less active of us we can mix a pitcher or eight of Pimms and load either Cricket or Test Master up on our trusty Speccy’s. Both games allow us to be the captain of England in either an one day (Cricket Master) or test match (Test Master). As captain you pick the team, chose the strategy, pick the bowlers, set the field and virtually everything but play the game yourself. The game gives you ball by ball commentary with an overhead view showing where the last shot went.
When batting you pick the order the players bat in and can set the aggression. This does seem to have an impact on both the run rate and the chances of one of your batsmen getting out. Other than this you are sat there watching, this is where the afore mentioned Pimms might come in handy. The bowling operates pretty much the same, pick who bowls,what line they bowl and set the field, then sit back and see you master plan reduce the West Indies to 47-8 hopefully.
The settings you pick do seem to have an impact on your teams performance, however this seems to over ride the players individual form ratings to some degree. The real drawback with the game is while it is a detailed simulation of Cricket it is too slow, to play a one day game takes about 4 hours and I’ve never played a full test match. This could be seen as an accurate representation of the real game but who wants to spend all day watching text and dots on their screen. Another disappointing aspect is that there is no career or cup competitions you play your game and that’s it.
While there are slight differences between the two, I feel the graphics for a Spectrum are good but they are helped by it really being a still image.
The game plays well using the keys to navigate the easy to follow menus. As mentioned the real problem is the speed of the game.
There is no music or sound effects just a beep when picking next batsman or bowler.
I feel the games look and play like they did when I first played them back in the day. However as opposed to then I can no longer spend a day playing a virtual game of cricket.
If you are a cricket nut with plenty of time to kill you will get some enjoyment out of these but being realistic they are just too slow. Which is a shame as you do feel that the selections you make have an impact on the game. I would rate Cricket Master just above Test Master purely as it is easier to play a full game.

Soccer Rivals on the Spectrum

Review by Madstedotcom
Two things I have always enjoyed were Footie manager games and board games so you can only imagine my joy when I discovered this game which basically combines the two. The game is played by three rival managers, with the option for the computer to control the other two. Each player takes it in turn to move their marker around the board. Each square then allows you to carry out different management tasks like buying or selling players, upgrading the ground or training. There are also more board game style ones like a “chance” square which can either have a positive or negative effect on your finances or playing squad. Another allows you to play a skill game for monetary gain by shooting a ball against a moving target. Then there’s my favourite the death square, land here and a player dies. Its always seems to be your best player and as a further kick in the teeth you get to pay compo to his family as well.
After everyone has moved its match day, so select your team from your players who are all named after their position, which must make substitutions confusing. You can then either see the result or highlights. The highlights are really poor and just show one player trying to control the ball then kick it the right way. Also if you want highlights you need to manually select the option via the menus before each game.
You then rinse and repeat until the end of time. It is worth noting like other management games at the time regardless of what team you pick you will start in the fourth division and each division only has 8 teams, which means you can really speed through the seasons.
The graphics are functional and do what is required of them, there is no real flair or excellence here. However they are colourful and crisp.
While a interesting idea the games does suffer due to the nature of board games, for example you may need to sell a player but you can’t do that until you land on the correct square with could take several turns/games. The game also gives the impression that if you play it for long enough you will win the first division. This is not helped by the fact your players do not age.
There is no music only bleeps. The bleeps are annoying too, play with sound off.
Like most management games from this era it has not aged well when compared to modern Football Manager games. I think if you played this or similar games it has aged ok but a newcomer would probably turn it off within minutes.
A novel concept which can provide some short term fun but the longer you play the more frustrating it becomes. I’m sure it would be loads of fun played with some friends and the banter that would create.
I have enjoyed replaying the game in short bursts via the Marvin emulator on my phone during breaks in work but could not sit down and play this at home. If you are looking for a time killer on your phone could be worth a try if you like management games.

My collection

Thought I’d take a few minutes to tell you about what I collect and how I got in to collecting.
To understand this I need to take you back to my youth. I am an only child which doesn’t mean I was spoilt growing up but it did mean my stuff was not handed down to younger siblings or cousins. Therefore I kept every system I was given and would regularly play the older systems. There were only 2 exceptions to this, my Commodore 16 which died after about a year and my NES which I sold to a family friend.
I regretted selling the NES for years and in the early 2000′s started searching the Internet for one. It was around this time I stumbled across eBay, no one I knew and heard of this site and I was a bit cautious about it all. I decided I would make a smaller purchase first as a test to see how it worked. I can’t remember at first whether Pay-pal existed or not but I remember making a lot of payments by posting out cheques.
This was it I was hooked, it was 2003 I was living at home, at university so getting student loan cheques and also had a job so virtually all my money was going on eBay. I was focused on getting all the systems that I wanted as a child. Over the next four or five years I had built a massive collection of systems but I was not really interested in the games. I’m not going to list all the systems I owned but it was around the 30 mark.
Then in 2008 I bought a house with my girlfriend and was told “that crap ain’t coming in my house” So I did what most of us have done and sold virtually all my collection. However I did get a 360, PS3 and a Wii has replacements. At this point I also started a new rule, that I would only play one game at a time, sell it, then buy a new one.
This worked well for a while until I discovered Retro Gaming Podcasts and heard everyone talking about their collections. I was eager to start collecting but could not justify the cost until I gave up smoking in March this year. So I decided I would reward myself for not smoking by putting aside £20 each week to do with as I wish.
This time around I decided to stay away from collecting systems. I decided to focus on PS1 games being as they are generally cheap and I could play them on my PS3. However after collecting for a while I started to miss my old PS2, so I picked up a PS2 with about 30 games for £30 from eBay , local pick up. Since then I have added a modded region free PS1 and an American PS2 to my collection and am looking for a Japanese PS2.
My collection now stands at about 80 PS1 games and 100 PS2 games plus some current gen games. I am even delaying buying PS3 games as I expect their price to start to fall in a year or two, similar to PS2 Games. I tend to get my games from car boots and eBay, the charity shops near to me never seem to have anything good in them but I do still check. I find car boots are great for bulk buys, my best as been 14 PS1 games including Crash and Spyro for 70 pence, whereas eBay is better if you are after a particular game.
I would recommend collecting to anyone just make sure you set limits, some games are crazy money! Just remember there are no rules, some people like to collect everything, others like me focus on particular systems, while others collect a franchise e.g. Street Fighter games, some have rules on where they find the games e.g. no eBay or no Internet.
I hope you have enjoyed this and will leave you with some of my tips for eBay
  1. Look for local pick ups
  2. Always check sellers other items and ask for postage discount
  3. Be patient and stick to your limit, chances are another one will be listed
  4. Don’t let high postage costs put you off, most people will not bid therefore the item will be cheaper, £20 + £20 p&p is the same to you as £30 + £10 p&p
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, most sellers want to sell and will be willing to help.
  6. Take calculated risks, this is how much of a gambler you are but sometimes it is worth taking a chance on untested items, low feedback eBayers or poor descriptions. If you do this bid in the knowledge you may lose your money. Also look out for untested consoles that have all the leads – if you have the leads why wouldn’t you check it works and get more money!


Review by Madstedotcom
Before you ask yes that is the correct spelling, and no I’m not going to tell what a GameKlip is straight away. First I will explain how I discovered this item. I was looking for an handheld emulation device after being a bit disappointed in emulating 16 bit systems on a Nintendo DS. The options I could find was a modded PSP, dedicated emulation handheld device e.g. GP32, Dingoo etc, Chinese Android based device e.g. JXD products or android phones. Obviously all these had their own unique advantages and disadvantages, while looking at these I discovered the GameKlip.
In its simplest form it is a bracket that will hold your android phone and a PS3 controller. You can then either connect via cable or wireless depending on handset and requirements. As luck would have it I have a PS3 pad and I was due a new phone upgrade.
This review will be based on my experience with my handset, what Apps I have tried etc I will try to give an overview from the research I carried out but be warned your experiences may well differ and please carry out your own research before buying.
I chose the Samsung Galaxy S3 for a few reasons, there is a specific GameKlip for this phone (other phones use an universal GameKlip that requires a case to be glued to the GameKlip), it supports a wired connection and it was in my price range.
After waiting about 10 days for my GameKlip to arrive from the States, not too shabby, I finally got my hands on it. Included in the packaging are the GameKlip, cable and some sweets, so after eating the sweets I went about setting it up. The PS3 Pad clips securely into place and the S3 slides nicely into place. The supplied cable is also just right length to connect pad to phone. To enable wireless connection the phone needs to be rooted and you also require a third party App which is not free. Therefore I have left mine with the wired connection. Once everything connected you just press the PS button on the controller and you can use the controller to move a selection box around your home screen. At this point I needed to reset my PS3 pad for it to stay connected.
Once you have made the connection you can then set up the controller in any emulator or android game that has the option to map controls to physical buttons. Every emulator I have tried thus far allows for this but I have heard some people say the PSP emulator does not have this option. Android games however are more of a lottery whether this is supported or not. However the same App that allows a wireless connection supports assigning parts of the touch screen to controls on the PS3 Pad. I have not tried this myself so can not comment on how this works in practice.
From my experiences so far I have been able to easily set up the controller for every emulator I have used. The only issue I have found is no analogue stick support on PS1, but again this is an issue with the App or the game and I’m sure if spent some time with it I could sort it out either through different emulators or different versions and I have only tested it with one game. Yes, it is a game that supports analogue controls. It is also not very portable, I use mine sat on the sofa while the girlfriend watches the soaps. I still use this pad on my PS3 and have had no need to carry out another reset on the pad, also you can leave the Gameklip on the pad so not going to weaken the grip by continual removal of the pad.
I would definitely recommend one however please read all the info you can find on how to connect your phone to a PS3 pad beforehand!!
More info at
Samsung Galaxy S3 with GameKlip Overall 4/5