NEO Zone

NEO Zone

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Dark Cavern Black (Atari 2600)

DARK CAVERN BLACK (Atari 2600)

In the early days of Atari the upper management wanted to show that the Atari 2600 was a COLOR Video Game System. This seems to have been picked up by other developers as well.

The result? No game would be released without a colored background. This led to the bright colored backgrounds in most of the early releases. These backgrounds can lead to blurred images and eyestrain.

The solution? Change the backgrounds to black. The black background gives the game more of an 80's arcade look and makes the graphics stand out better.

Play the game the way it should have been. DARK CAVERN BLACK!!
Original Dark Cavern
Even space games had a non-black background.

The same game as the original M-Network release for the Atari 2600. The only change is the background color and some new original label artwork.

The original Dark Cavern had a blue background. This is suppose to be a DARK cavern, why would they ever release it with a blue background?



Dark Cavern Black
Now you can play Dark Cavern with a black background on your Atari 2600.

Limited Edition release Late July/August 2016
Join Atari 2600 Homebrew on FaceBook to keep up will all the latest Atari 2600 hack and home brew releases.
ttps://www.facebook.com/groups/Atari2600homebrew/




Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Star Tunnel (Atari 2600)

STAR TUNNEL (Atari 2600)

Lost in an alien galaxy, surrounded by strange creatures and hunted by unknown vicious warriors. Sounds bad enough, right? And then there is the radiation. Looking for the Star Tunnel that will get you home is your only option for survival, but everything in the damn things give off radiation. It is a race against time as much as it is a battle against the locals. They know why you are in these tunnels and have set up blockades to prevent you from escaping.

Some of the local creatures are not attacking you and are innocent bystanders. Hit them by mistake and they release radiation, you do get points for their destruction if you have the health to survive.

The Radiation Monitor is a graphic display of your radiation exposure.  You begin each game with a strong, steady heartbeat.  EACH TIME YOUR
SHIP CRASHES INTO ANY OBJECT, THE EXPOSURE INCREASES.  Every time the slower hand of the Time Clock completes a cycle, your radiation exposure increases.  A flat heart rate means that you have
lost the battle due to radiation death.


You should attempt to shoot any HEARTS you see in order to release its healing properties.  Blasting HEARTS is the only way you can reduce your radiation level.  Allowing one to pass you by has no
adverse effects, but don't run into it.





Along the way you will encounter  Sentry Saucers, Defense Rockets, Bacta Ships, Alien Skull Barriers, Space Beetles and other obstacles in the Star Tunnels. Can you find the right one to send you home?

Star Tunnel will be a Limited Edition release of 30 cartridges. There are two different label versions, Lifa and Death. 15 copies of each version.










Star Tunnel will be available the first week of July 2016.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/Atari2600homebrew/


 
 

 









Tuesday, February 9, 2016

DRAGSTER: THE DUEL (ATARI 2600) ****UPDATE****

Dragster: The Duel
DRAGSTER: THE DUEL
****UPDATE****

Dragster was the first video game developed by Activision for the Atari 2600 console, and released in 1980. Designed and programmed by David Crane. The object of the game is to either beat the player's opponent across the screen, or to race against the clock for best time. Dragster is an unauthorized adaptation of the 1977 Kee Games coin-op, Drag Race.

 The world record on Dragster is currently held by video gamer Todd Rogers with a time of 5.51, yes it is possible.

Dragster: The Duel is an update of the original game.


Original Dragster Release
       The original Dragster had two rail cars racing against each other. Each car was the same color and design. For Dragster: The Duel, the game program was expanded to allow each car to have it's own graphic and color. Initially I had two stock cars racing against each other but then put back the classic dragster car as one of the opponents. It is old versus new.  





NTSC version 
The game play is unchanged from the original game. All of your old tips and tricks will still work. Most of you will have played Dragster but for the few that have not, here is how the game works.

The tachometer (tach) shows how fast the player's engine is turning over. A dark green line that starts at the left side of his television screen for each car and turns red at about the middle is his tach. When it turns red, the player is in high power - but danger!- area. The player will find that he gets his best speed in each gear by red-lining his tach close to the maximum . But watch out! If the player revs his engine too much, it will BLOW. So be careful. Once the player blows his engine, the race is over for him . The way to build maximum speed is to quickly clutch shift and accelerate through all four gears WITH MAXIMUM POWER AT EACH GEAR LEVEL.
Once the player starts shifting gears, he can't downshift. But if the player shifts too soon, his engine will lug (work heavily); he will accelerate slowly and lose some time. It's tricky and takes practice, but the player's patience and perseverance will be rewarded with good times.

Most players first experience with Dragster goes like this, Countdown clock starts, GO!!! the player pushes the gas and BAM!!!, blows their engine. After a few tries they discover how the clutch works.  They then alternate between blowing the engine or crawling down the track. At this point the player will either give up and say that the game sucks or they persevere and learn how to get the most speed. Beating your own time is very compelling and can be the ultimate just one more try game.

The best way to play the game is with a friend. Two players racing against each other can not be beat.

Dragster: The Duel labels
 The latest version has several new additions. There are four game options now. They are:
1. Dragster versus Dragster
2. Stock versus Dragster
3. Dragster versus Stock
4. Stock versus Stock

The game is also compatible with NTSC and PAL. The Color - B/W switch chooses between the two options.

The Difficulty A/B switch chooses between straight and steerable Dragsters.

There is now a simple text only title screen.

This is all being done in only 4k of memory.



Dragster: The Duel is being made for a competition cartridge to be used at various video game conventions across the U.S.A.. I will offer a small run on cartridge for people that want a copy.


PAL version






Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Haunted Paintings (Paranormal)

Haunted Paintings

***WARNING***
Some of these paintings are said to have spooky effects or to be disturbing to people even when viewed online. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!

Haunted house stories abound, but tales of haunted paintings are far less common. It seems most ghosts prefer spacious mansions and sprawling cemeteries to the limited space found in a framed portrait or painting. However, not all ghosts limit themselves to traditional haunting grounds.

Can paintings have other influences over us and our world as well? Are there times when, rather than channeling the artist, they are channeling powers beyond our understanding? Are they sometimes more than mere paintings, saturated with the unknown rather than just paint?



The Crying Boy
The Crying Boy

This is not just one painting, but a whole series of paintings collectively known as The Crying Boy. In the 1950s, Italian artist Bruno Amadio, also known as Giovanni Bragolin, painted over 65 portraits of Italian orphans crying, which he sold as souvenirs to tourists in the wake of the Second World War. During the 50s, the paintings went on to become one of the most popular mass produced series of prints in England, but it was not until the 1980s that any particular strangeness was associated with them. Starting from 1985, it was claimed that firefighters were finding completely undamaged copies of The Crying Boy among the ashes and rubble of burned down houses, always lying face down on the floor. In over 50 house fires The Crying Boy paintings were claimed to have inexplicably avoided fiery destruction and to have ended up in the same face down position. It was also reported that homes which had copies of the paintings were prone to a higher rate of house fires than usual.

Numerous psychics would go on to make claims that the portraits were haunted by the ghosts of the many orphans who had died during World War II, and the whole story almost took on the air of an urban legend. It must be noted that the original story appeared in the British tabloid newspaper The Sun, so it should be probably taken with a grain of salt, yet many have insisted that the prints are actually capable of repelling flames. The Sun actually organized mass bonfires for owners of the paintings to come out and burn them, with many participants saying that indeed they seemed to burn remarkably slowly. There is even one BBC video of a guy who I presume thought to himself “only one way to find out,” and can be seen trying to burn a copy of The Crying Boy, which it is claimed seems to be more resistant to the torching than a normal painting would be. Not sure what to make of this one, but for what it’s worth there have been those who blame preservative varnish on the paintings for causing them to be more resistant to flames.

Bernardo de Galvez
Portrait of Bernardo de Galvez

At the end of a downstairs hallway at The Hotel Galvez in Galveston, TX, there hangs a portrait of Bernardo de Galvez, who was a Spanish military leader who aided American forces during the Revolutionary War, and for whom the town of Galveston is named. Although Galvez died in 1786, it has long been claimed that this particular portrait of him harbors the man’s ghost. There are various strange phenomena associated with the painting. Numerous guests and hotel employees alike have claimed that the painting’s eyes very unmistakably follow them up and down the hallway, and cold spots or a sudden sense of unease felt near the painting are not uncommon. One of the weirder aspects of the painting is that it apparently does not like to have its photo taken without permission. People claim that any photo of the painting will turn out blurry, or show inexplicable orbs, fogs, streaks, or even be marred by frightening ghostly skeletal images, unless explicit and verbal permission is asked of the painting to take its picture, after which photos turn out perfectly fine. This strange claim was actually tested out by the paranormal investigation team Strange Town, who were quite chilled to find that in fact their photos of the painting really did turn out blurry unless it was asked for permission.

The Dead Mother
The Dead Mother

The Dead Mother by Edvard Munch, the artist most famous for his painting The Scream, and an overall fairly dark individual. Munch had been driven nearly insane by his upbringing in the house of an abusive, religious fanatic of a father after the tragic death of his mother and sister by tuberculosis when he was only 5 years old. The Dead Mother seems to reflect some of that angst, despair, and insanity, with these elements congealing to form what can only be described as a truly disturbing painting to look at. It depicts a young girl with her back turned to a bed on which her dead mother lies as she holds her hands to her ears and displays a wide-eyed expression of disbelief. Munch himself said of his work in his typically dour way, “Sickness, madness and death were the black angels who watched over his cradle.” Already creepy enough then, but it gets even creepier. People who have owned the painting claimed that the girl’s eyes incessantly followed them, that the sheets on mother’s bed in the painting would rustle or move, or even that the girl’s apparition would occasionally leave the painting altogether.

Love Letters
 Love Letters

The Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas, already has a reputation as being heavily haunted, and it seems even its paintings are as well. At least one of them is. One painting exhibited there is called Love Letters, which is a replica of yet another painting depicting a little girl. It is said that although the girl in the picture is a different person, she resembles very much another girl named Samantha Houston, the four year old daughter of a U.S. Senator who died while staying at the hotel when she fell to her death down a flight of stairs while chasing after a dropped ball. Guests and employees have reported that the girl in the painting will sometimes change her expression or slightly shift positions. There are also numerous reports of the painting making anyone who looks at it feel ill, dizzy, or nauseous, or creating the rather unsettling sensation of being lifted into the air when standing in front of it. Even though it is not a portrait of her, it is thought that the ghost of the dead senator’s daughter has taken a liking to it and chosen to take up residence within the painting.


The Hands Resist Him
The Hands Resist Him

Bill Stoneham’s “The Hands Resist Him,” a.k.a. the “eBay Haunted Painting” is one of the world’s most haunted works of art.
“The Hands Resist Him” features a boy and creepy doll standing in front of a glass paneled door. Stoneham created the painting in 1972, and The Godfather actor John Marley purchased it a few years later. A couple in California eventually acquired the painting and put on eBay in February 2000. Though the painting is creepy, the story behind it is even more so.

According to the couple, the figures in the painting moved around at night and even left the canvas altogether. However, the boy and doll didn’t simply disappear from view. They entered the room in which the painting was displayed. It seems the artwork’s curse didn’t just affect the owners. People who viewed the painting online reported feeling sick and faint. Some people claimed their children ran away screaming after seeing “The Hands Resist Him,” while others claimed to be gripped by an unseen entity. One person tried to print a downloaded image of the painting, but their brand new printer refused to cooperate.

An art gallery in Grand Rapids, MI purchased the painting for just over $1,000 and eventually tracked down Bill Stoneham. The artist was surprised by the haunting stories, but did note that the gallery owner who displayed the “The Hands Resist Him,” and the art critic who reviewed it, both died within a year of viewing the painting. Stoneham has since painted two sequel works, “Resistance at the Threshold” and “Threshold of Revolution.”

The Anguished Man
 The Anguished Man

The undeniably creepy and somewhat terrifying painting was allegedly kept for 25 years in the attic of the grandmother of a man named Sean Robinson. The grandmother had always made odd claims about the painting, such as that the painter had mixed his own blood into the paint when creating the work and that he had committed suicide right after completing it. The grandmother had also claimed that voices could be heard screaming or crying when the blood infused painting was viewed, and that a somewhat threatening shadowy, spectral shape could also be seen in its vicinity, which convinced her that it was haunted by the artist and was the main reason it had been tucked away into her attic for all of those years.

In 2010, Robinson inherited the painting from his grandmother upon her death and allegedly almost immediately his family was beset by weird happenings, seemingly harassed by a strange force pervading their house. Robinson claimed that upon acquiring The Anguished Man, his son had been pushed down the stairs by unseen hands, that his wife often felt something stroking her hair, and that there were numerous instances of poltergeist activity around their house. The whole family also heard the screaming and crying that Robinson’s grandmother had described, and spotted the mysterious shadowy figure lurking near the painting on many occasions as well. The Anguished Man gained the most notoriety when Robinson decided to set up a camera near the painting to record the paranormal phenomena and uploaded them onto YouTube. The videos show various instances of alleged ghostly activity such as the painting falling to the floor, doors slamming shut, and even smoke rising up from the painting. Spooky stuff, but many viewers have claimed that it is nothing but a hoax. Whether The Anguished Man is really haunted or not, it is hard to argue against the fact that it is indeed extremely unsettling to look at. Robinson has reportedly locked the cursed painting in his basement and refuses to sell it. Incidentally, The Anguished Man is another painting which some say instills feelings of panic, dizziness, or unease even when viewed online. Take a look at it and decide for yourself. What do you think?


The Headless Man
 The Headless Man

Our next haunted painting is actually a painting of a photograph. In the mid-1990s, an artist known only as Laura P. was making a living off of creating paintings based on photographs, and her attention was caught by an odd photo taken by commercial photographer James Kidd. The photograph in question shows an old fashioned stagecoach in the foreground along with a rusty wagon. The strange thing is that looming off to the side there is a wispy figure that appears to be headless and which Kidd insisted had not been there when the photo was taken, instead appearing upon development. Although Laura was not sure what exactly drew her to the picture, she became overcome with an irresistible urge to paint it, and went about creating a 16 x 20-inch oil painting based on it.

The artist reported that almost immediately upon starting the painting she was overcome with a palpable sense of dread, fear, and unease, to the point that she was hesitant to even finish it, yet something compelled her to keep on painting through this overwhelming sense of doom that was hanging over her. When the ordeal was over, the finished painting, titled Painting of a Headless Man, was hung up at a local office where it proceeded to promptly creep everyone right out. Workers at the office claimed that as soon as the painting arrived, papers started going missing, objects would be moved to different locations when no one was looking, and that even the painting itself would move on its own, always crooked even when it was constantly being straightened. After a mere 3 days of freaking everyone out, the office asked Laura to take the painting back. When she moved with her husband to a new home, the painting went with them, and so did whatever mysterious force it was imbued with.

At the new home, the couple repeatedly heard various anomalous sounds such as knocks, bangs, footsteps, and other less definable noises, which always seemed to happen in the general vicinity of the painting. Additionally, other weird occurrences started happening with increasing frequency, such as objects moving on their own, spilt salt next to an upright salt shaker, doors opening by themselves, roof leaks that even professionals called in to investigate could not explain, the dogs suddenly growling or being spooked for no discernible reason, and other similarly minor but generally unsettling phenomena. One alleged incident seemed to be more sinister, when a glass Laura was drinking from suddenly broke in her hand and a large piece of the jagged shattered glass vanished without a trace.

Laura told a friend about these strange events befalling her house, but the friend was highly skeptical and even reportedly laughed out loud when she saw the painting itself. According to Laura, when the friend returned to her home that night, a large clock that had been hanging on the wall for nearly 40 years suddenly fell and was smashed to pieces. Coincidence, or did the painting perhaps not like being laughed at? Another friend of the woman came to photograph the painting, and when he was laying the photos out at his home, he claimed to have seen a spectral, headless figure looming in the shadows from the corner of his eye, prompting him to immediately dispose of the pictures he had taken. The artist of the painting has apparently lamented the fact that she ever painted Painting of a Headless Man in the first place and has expressed a desire to have it destroyed. What is going on with this painting? Why does it attract so much weirdness to it when the photo it is actually based on seemingly does not? It is an odd case to be sure.

 Man Proposes, God Disposes
 Man Proposes, God Disposes

Not even establishments of higher learning and rationality are free from the scourge of cursed paintings. In the picture gallery of the Royal Holloway College at the University of London there hangs a painting called Man Proposes, God Disposes by Sir Edwin Landseer. The painting shows the crew of the doomed Arctic expedition led by Sir John Franklin being devoured by ferocious polar bears, so it is rather chilling in its own right. The odd thing about this particular painting, other than being exceptionally spooky, is that it is thought to drive students mad or to make them fail their exams, a bit problematic considering the picture gallery is often used for taking exams. So persistent is the rumor that it is customary for the college to cover the painting with a Union Jack flag in the days leading up to, as well as during, an exam. One famous story at the College is that one student became so utterly and hopelessly upset by the painting that she was driven stark raving insane and allegedly killed herself right there at her desk in front of everyone. I would say that would be good enough reason to get rid of the accursed thing, but apparently it still hangs there, freaking people out as it always has. It’s hard to say if this denotes a haunting or something else, but it certainly is a fairly creepy story nevertheless.


 Are any of these works of art truly haunted or possessed of some sinister force? Or are they just merely constructs of canvas, wood, and paint? There can be no doubt that paintings can have the power to have a profound emotional and mental effect on the people who view them and stir up a wide range of feelings including elation, sadness, disgust, the whole range of human feelings, so does this perhaps have something to do with these phenomena? After all, these are windows into the mind and soul of the artist, in a way giving us a glimpse into a world outside of our own mind and range of sensory experience, perhaps even influencing ours. However, in the case of these haunted or cursed paintings perhaps they are windows into something else as well. Just maybe they are portals into the unknown, from which forces or entities beyond our understanding reach out to us through them. Either way, it is clear that paintings are, in more cases than not, much more than simply the sum of their parts.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Dragster: The Duel (Atari 2600)

Dragster: The Duel
 Dragster: The Duel

Dragster was the first video game developed by Activision for the Atari 2600 console, and released in 1980. Designed and programmed by David Crane. The object of the game is to either beat the player's opponent across the screen, or to race against the clock for best time. Dragster is an unauthorized adaptation of the 1977 Kee Games coin-op, Drag Race.

 The world record on Dragster is currently held by video gamer Todd Rogers with a time of 5.51, yes it is possible.

Dragster: The Duel is an update of the original game.

Original Dragster
      The original Dragster had two rail cars racing against each other. Each car was the same color and design. For Dragster: The Duel, the game program was expanded to allow each car to have it's own graphic and color. Initially I had two stock cars racing against each other but then put back the classic dragster car as one of the opponents. It is old versus new.                                    



The game play is unchanged from the original game. All of your old tips and tricks will still work. Most of you will have played Dragster but for the few that have not, here is how the game works.

The tachometer (tach) shows how fast the player's engine is turning over. A dark green line that starts at the left side of his television screen for each car and turns red at about the middle is his tach. When it turns red, the player is in high power - but danger!- area. The player will find that he gets his best speed in each gear by red-lining his tach close to the maximum . But watch out! If the player revs his engine too much, it will BLOW. So be careful. Once the player blows his engine, the race is over for him . The way to build maximum speed is to quickly clutch shift and accelerate through all four gears WITH MAXIMUM POWER AT EACH GEAR LEVEL.
Once the player starts shifting gears, he can't downshift. But if the player shifts too soon, his engine will lug (work heavily); he will accelerate slowly and lose some time. It's tricky and takes practice, but the player's patience and perseverance will be rewarded with good times.

Most players first experience with Dragster goes like this, Countdown clock starts, GO!!! the player pushes the gas and BAM!!!, blows their engine. After a few tries they discover how the clutch works.  They then alternate between blowing the engine or crawling down the track. At this point the player will either give up and say that the game sucks or they persevere and learn how to get the most speed. Beating your own time is very compelling and can be the ultimate just one more try game.

The best way to play the game is with a friend. Two players racing against each other can not be beat.

Dragster: The Duel cartridge
Dragster: The Duel is being made for a competition cartridge to be used at various video game conventions across the U.S.A. and no plans to release it at this time. If there is enough interest in a cartridge release it is certainly possible.

Car colors and graphics can be changed.

If you want a copy of Dragster: The Duel then let me know .
Stock vs Stock

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fat Albert (Atari 2600)


JELLO Presents
FAT ALBERT for the Atari 2600

Fat Albert is a hack of the Atari 2600 game Fast Food that was done way back in 2000. I set out to brush it up a little and fix a few things that I never liked.

It bothered me that Fat Albert's head was left as several shades of purple and knowing that it is an easy fix I went ahead and corrected it it. As most people know a typical Atari sprite can only be one color per horizontal line. That left a problem with the original head sprite since his hair goes down the back of his head. In order to have his face and hair different colors they can't be on the same horizontal line. With a little optical trick it looks like we have two colors on one line, but as you can see in the detail below it is still only one color per line. I added an ear to fill up the big blank space.


I always have to start tweaking other things once I start on something. The next thing I did was change the title graphic at the bottom of the screen. I added Jello Presents to do a tie-in with Jello Pudding Pops. A What If back in the day Fat Albert was really made for the Atari 2600 instead of Fast Food and it was sponsored by Jello.

The original game you had to avoid a Purple Pickle, I guess it was spoiled. With Fat Albert it seemed better to have something else. How about a dog?  The dog was quickly added but something was missing, it was not animated. Now it is. Don't get chomped!!!



 In the original game you lose a life/chance every time Fat Albert eats a Purple Pickle. You get 6 lives before the game is over. Each time Fat Albert eats one it is displayed under the score so you can keep track. I added a line of 6 hearts that are replaced one by one with a dog as you lose lives. Not really needed but I thought it was cool. Also changed the color from purple to red.


The next thing was to try to improve the items that Fat Albert eats. Here are the original items and my changes.

Fast Food:                              Fat Albert:
Purple Pickle                           Dog
Green Pickle                           Coke
Root Beer                               Hamburger
Cola                                        French Fries
Soda Pop                                Pizza
Hot Dog                                  Ice Cream Cone
Hamburger                              Coffee
Ice Cream Bar                         Pineapple Cake
Milk Shake                              Pudding Pop
Ice Cream Cone                      Astro Pop
French Fries                            Banana
Pizza                                       Cherry
Cheese Burger                         Roasted Pig

 The Intermission screens were already pretty much perfect and basically unchanged. I did do a few tweaks here and there but nothing of note.

 There is a possibility that voice may be added for the intermission screen and the Game Over screen. It would be "Hey Hey Hey" and "Game Over" in Fat Albert's voice.

To go with the Jello Pudding Pops theme I made up a fake comic book advertisement for the game from 1985. Where for 5 UPC codes from Jello brand Pudding Pops and $19 you could order a cartridge of Fat Albert for your Atari 2600. I will post an update with any changes in the future. Remember, Buy Jello Brand Pudding Pops!!

















 




Sunday, May 17, 2015

Malaysian Death Beetle


Malaysian Death Beetles can be yellow, brown or orange and have stripes or blotches instead of dots. The Death Beetle is often mistaken for harmless Lady Bird Beetles (Lady Bug) but the Death Beetle is more oval then round and the stripes are a good indicator of a Death Beetle. They can be found in tropical and sub-tropical climates.

This tiny little killer from Malaysia is a tiger in the insect World. Measuring less than a centimeter in length, the Malaysian Death Beetle incapacitates its victim then injects them with a venom that liquefies their insides. Once the bug has sucked out all those delicious innards, he discards the carcass exoskeleton by dropping it to the ground. The carcass pile can be several inches deep on the ground whenever a Death Beetle is living in the area.


When bitten or stung by a Death Beetle, a person will feel a sharp pain at the site, followed by redness and swelling of the area affected. It causes swelling in the face, breathing difficulty, nausea, abdominal pain, an itchy body rash, and loss of blood pressure and circulation (shock). This is a life-threatening situation and requires immediate emergency medical attention. Without medical attention the mortality rate is over 20%.


This is for my daughter Britteny who hoped this was a lady bug that landed on her. Yes Britt, it was a lady bug. It was completely harmless but it probably taste bad so I wouldn't eat one. The Malaysian Death Beetle does not exist.