Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Classic Games (Games) Games Technology

Retro Gaming Technologies Released Before Their Time 120

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-remembers-when-game-companies-took-risks dept.
Barence writes "Motion-sensing golf game controllers that appeared 20 years before the Nintendo Wii and the 1980s handheld console that operated on solar power are just two of the gems unearthed in this article about retro gaming secrets. Davey Winder has delved into his extensive personal collection of retro hardware to unveil the first handheld console to play '3D games' from 1983, 'the most realistic "gun" game controller ever produced' from way back in 1972, and the device that offered multiplayer computerized Scrabble almost 30 years before the iPad."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Retro Gaming Technologies Released Before Their Time

Comments Filter:
  • On the Atari 5200/SuperSystem (really A400 computers without keyboards). In an era when everything was digital (like Pac-man and Dig Dug) having analog sucked.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WED Fan (911325)
      I hate to do it...wait, no I don't...we used to build our own joysticks and wheel controllers, a few pots and pulleys. I think it was Byte magazine that ran an article that showed how to build a light pen for the Sinclair ZX81. Analog was nice.
      • So how did you play Pac-Man, which is basically impossible to play with analog sticks (you miss turns)?

        Commodore did later develop an analog mouse for use with GEOS 64 and 128 and Amiga. And you're right it was nice for flight sims and such but the D-stick or D-pad was best for arcade games

        • What difference would analog make? As long as the stick is in the position before the corner is reach, you can't miss the turn.

          ((x > 0.75) 0.75) 1) | ((y 0.25) 1)

          That would be the analog equivalent of an Atari or Commodore digital joystick bitfield (invert for Atari). Tweak the thresholds to adjust the response speed.

          Of course, the Apple ][ had an analog joystick/paddles before any of those machines.

          • Cripes. Blasted HTML did me in. That's what I get for not previewing.

            ((x > 0.75) << 1) | ((x < 0.25) << 1) | ((y > 0.75) << 1) | ((y < 0.25) << 1)

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by CrazyJim1 (809850)
            Speaking from experience of 286 years, sometimes the analog would not calibrate right. And even when you calibrated, if you didn't push the stick the full degree to its range of motion, it would not know you moved there. Red Baron was a great game to play though with analog. Speaking of Red Baron, why haven't they came out with a modern version of it for Internet play? That could be a great game.

            Oh later, another good game was Stunt Island. Remember how you could make your own movies? How cool woul
          • >>>What difference would analog make?

            Try playing PacMan on your PS2 or Gamecube using the analog stick, and after missing a few turns or running directly into ghosts, then you'll understand. It's fucked up. You need a digital stick.

          • by arth1 (260657)

            What difference would analog make?

            No tactile feedback that you're really inside the sensor range for a direction, and longer travel.

            Not to forget that in Pac-Man, you travel in one direction until you travel in another. Standing still in corridors (usually next to a power pill or waiting a second for a fruit to appear) is accomplished by changing directions back and forth with precision. If the analogue stick kicks in for a direction when the stick has moved only partway to that position, you lose that pr

            • Actually the Arcade Pac-Man will stop when you center the stick. It's the various ports to consoles/computers that removed that functionality.

              • What are talking about? Even the original Puck-Man didn't work that way. Whatever bootleg you played at the corner pizzeria has grossly mislead you.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by veganboyjosh (896761)
          We got our first 2600 in about 1987. My parents got it used. I was young enough to still think it pretty cool at the time. Whoever we bought it from had hacked two buttons onto one of the joysticks, for use in video pinball. One button was the same as "left joystick", while the other was the same as "right joystick." The joystick functioned as normal.
          I remember seeing an episode of Mr. Wizard where he took apart an Atari Joystick and had the girl play the game by manually touching the contacts on the circ
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jesset77 (759149)
        I'm sad they didn't mention the TI-99/4a speech synthesizer. I mean every computer in early 80's movies and television could talk (Kit, WOPR, Hawking) but try getting that tech into your personal video game system, right? Even today Microsoft Sam on a quad core 3.3Ghz machine with 4gb of RAM hasn't really gained a lot of ground past Parsec's onboard computer 29 years ago on a single core 300khz machine with 16kb of (usable) RAM. Yeah speech synth was a hardware add-on, might have had it's own processor and
        • Microsoft's internal voices are pretty crap, but there are some really nice commercial synthesised voices out there.
        • >>>video game system, right?

          The 1977 Atari could talk, although it took programmers a few years to learn how to do it. First there was Pitfall 2 with music and then speech came soon after.

          The 1982 C64 could talk out of the box (the SID chip could imitate a CD-style PCM recording).

          • by j-beda (85386)

            Heck, the TRS-80 didn't even have sound output designed into it so people wrote out to the cassette tape storage device to get sound for games, and IT managed to do passable voice synthesis.

          • by ncc74656 (45571) *
            PWM on the Apple II's bit-bang speaker output could get you 4 or 5 bits' worth of resolution at 11.025 kHz. I'm not sure who did this first, but I started with 3 bits in the early '90s and others extended it beyond that with more clever coding than I had managed. Sampling audio on the cassette-in jack and playing it through the speaker (at 1 bit per sample) went back to at least the early '80s AFAIK.
        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          On the Atari 5200/SuperSystem (really A400 computers without keyboards). In an era when everything was digital (like Pac-man and Dig Dug) having analog sucked.

          The irony is, maybe a few years after that analog joysticks came back into vogue as PCs decided to be better and offer analog joysticks. Even these days the sticks are all analog, before they're quantized and sent over USB. And in this modern era, we have both digital and analog sticks in our gamepads, with one console preferring digital control first

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Inner_Child (946194)

      The 5200 joystick wouldn't have been so bad if it would have just auto-centered! No, wait, it still would have been terrible...

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The 5200 sticks suffered from a plastic contact sheet that self-destructed just sitting in the box (oxidation). Repairing 5200 sticks remains a mini-industry in itself.

    • by Dogtanian (588974)

      On the Atari 5200/SuperSystem (really A400 computers without keyboards). In an era when everything was digital (like Pac-man and Dig Dug) having analog sucked.

      Ironically, the original Atari 400/800- as well as the original Atari VCS (2600)- already supported analogue paddles, two per joystick port. (*) Given that the 5200 was basically a badly modified 800, I suspect that its analogue joystick interface hardware implementation used the existing twin-paddle input internally.

      I never had them, as by the time I got my Atari 8-bit in the mid-80s, they seemed to be out of fashion, but AFAIK they were two-dimensional (i.e. left/right only) analogue controllers. I don'

  • Everything old is new again.
  • The Coleco ADAM was probably the worst platform prior to 1985 with possible runner up being the Mattel system (which probably still holds the record for worst controller ever).
    • by hairyfeet (841228)
      I don't know about that as I actually had the Microvision in TFA. The screen was notorious for getting stuck pixels, good luck finding games for it, and the "controller" was a flat giant touchpad that if you used a particular "cartridge" in it for too long would get the equivalent of burn in and would be hell to control. And finally the 'graphics' were just squares. That's it, it couldn't even do round, just squares. At least the Coleco could play Colecovision games, and since I owned a Colecovision too (ye
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by WED Fan (911325)

        Are you my old neighbor that used to haul his Atari or Coleco over to my apartment to show me all the cool games? Did you ever get a color TV over 12"?

        I'm old enough, too. I have a big lawn, and I've owned a Gran Torino and watched the movie. Oh, and that little strip between the sidewalk and the street? I don't care what the city says, that's mine, too.

      • >>>Man it sucks you can't get add-ons like that anymore.

        PS3 does better than that. It plays all the PS1 and PS2 plus PS3 games. And no expensive addons - it's just builtin, or as a software download. Coleco's Atari addon wasn't really that great anyway, since it cost almost as much as the full Atari console.

        • Re:Worst Console: (Score:5, Informative)

          by RESPAWN (153636) <caldwell@@@tulanealumni...net> on Saturday October 02, 2010 @04:51PM (#33772490) Homepage Journal

          Actually, no. The PS3 fails because it was only the early model PS3's that had that ability. Furthermore, it wasn't really clear which models of PS3 had the compatibility or didn't have it. So, what ended up happening was that people like me who bought the PS3 later in it's life found out the hard way that it wouldn't play their old PS2 games. Thanks Sony for confusing your customers.

          • by RogueyWon (735973)

            Amen to that. The PS3 back-compatibility story is a fiasco from start to finish.

            I'm one of the lucky ones. I imported a first-gen 60 gig machine from the US, so I get the full hardware-based back compatibility. If you got the 20 gig with the software back-compatibility then you're a bit stuffed, as while the 360's software back-compatibility base has been expanded a few times over the years, I don't think Sony ever implemented (m)any of the planned expansions for the software on the PS3. And if you missed t

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          I thought you had to rebuy all the games through PSN. You're telling me I can take a brand new PS3 and slap in ANY PS2 or PS1 game and it'll work? According to wikipedia [wikipedia.org] you're wrong, as you'll have to get an old out of warranty one to actually play PS2. Meh, consoles suck now IMHO. Sony keeps taking things away from you AFTER the sale, while my friends that have the x360 like it lack of XBMC pisses me off there, and frankly a $400 PC has better graphics than any of the above PLUS lets me play anything from

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          PS3 does better than that. It plays all the PS1 and PS2 plus PS3 games.

          This may apply to your PS3 (and mine... 60GB), but plenty of folks can't play PS2 games on their PS3.

        • by Osgeld (1900440)

          yea if you consider re buying ps1 games that you already own backwards compatible

          • If you already own them, put the disc in. All PS3's can play PS1 discs, that's entirely software compatibility that all PS3's have.

        • by Pharmboy (216950)

          PS3 does better than that. It plays all the PS1 and PS2 plus PS3 games.

          But does it run Linux? Any other OS or software? Oh it *used* to, but they decided after initial adopters paid $700 for those features and more, to disable that very feature. No thanks. I will stick with platforms that are not built by and controlled by asshats. Of course, that also rules out 360.

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      welllll

      the coleco vision was awesome, and that was the console, the ADAM was a badly rushed piss poor engineered PC based around the CV's hardware (why not TMS video z80 etc, arcade games in a set top box)

      if ADAM didnt require the fragile printer, and erase your storage media, catch fire and fall apart it would have been a decent contender in the early "everyone has one" pc days riding the coat tails of a already moderately successful console with a library of high quality 3rd party (sega nintendo etc) arca

  • The Sega Activator?

    It did everything Kinect does, worked about as reliably, was 20 years earlier and didn't cost $200.

    • it simulated 12 buttons(4 directions and 6 buttons) and was horrible for regular purpose gaming.

      the activator was shit.

      The Kinect actually is pretty innovative.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      The Sega Activator?

      It did everything Kinect does,

      So it could track four players simultaneously and determine the position of occluded limbs? You're a troll, and not a good one. Go back to digg, son.

  • by dangitman (862676) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @03:55PM (#33772186)

    The title given to this slashdot story is weird on a couple of levels. Firstly, these devices weren't released "before their time," they were released at precisely their time. Moreover, "retro" refers to exactly the opposite of something that is ahead of its time, it refers to something that is a throwback to an earlier time.

    • Your expectation that /. stories should have meaningful titles is retro. :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by antifoidulus (807088)
      Man were in fact released "before their time", namely they were released with technology that wasn't really mature enough to actually work correctly(such as the power glove which essentially uses the same motion tracking technology as the wii but said technology simply wasn't ready until recently)
      • by dangitman (862676)

        Man were in fact released "before their time", namely they were released with technology that wasn't really mature enough to actually work correctly(such as the power glove which essentially uses the same motion tracking technology as the wii but said technology simply wasn't ready until recently)

        But they weren't ahead of their time in any way. They were exactly of their time. Your example is untrue - the power glove does not use the "same motion technology as the Wii," it uses a much earlier incarnation.

  • Wii Fit (Score:3, Informative)

    by lmnfrs (829146) <lmnfrs@@@gmail...com> on Saturday October 02, 2010 @04:00PM (#33772214) Journal

    Cool stuff, but he left out the Amiga Joyboard [google.com].

  • LED panels lit from external light? LCD, maybe. LED panels are light-emitting, not light-transmitting (although most indeed will do both, they don't control light passing through them, only add to it.)

    • If you think last year's LEDs are too dim, you should see LEDs from the 1980s. They were so dark - (how dark were they?) - they were so dark, you had to shine a laser on 'em to see if they were on!

      Don't ask me what they made the lasers out of.

  • You'd think an article posted about retro gaming would spark conversation about gaming, as opposed to arguments about grammer and replies to trolls.

    Me likey /.
    • by daveime (1253762)

      Why would anyone argue about your Grandmother ?

      Oh, you meant grammAr ???

      • by reeno49 (1558221)
        Yeah, that's the one. Damn the lack of spell check on this thing. Stupid Outlook for making me lazy...
  • The 1980s arcade games with vector graphics (not raster/bitmap) displays were ahead of their time. Now that we have Flash and SVG that can specify graphics in vector format, we could use display HW that can render with vectors instead of pixels, for even smoother and better looking displays.

    The old tech really offered only black and white, but now 30-40 years later we might have figured out how to offer full color. Perhaps even fuller color than with pixels, since pixels are really not fully colored, but a

    • by fishbowl (7759)

      >The 1980s arcade games with vector graphics (not raster/bitmap) displays were ahead of their time. Now that we have Flash and SVG that can specify graphics in vector format,
      >we could use display HW that can render with vectors instead of pixels, for even smoother and better looking displays.

      It's still extremely hard to get a convincing "Tempest", "Lander" or "Asteroids" on a PC display. There is some real subtlety to the vector system.

      I played Lunar Lander a lot, but I always kind of had a grudge be

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Vector graphics displays are essentially unworkable and that is why they were abandoned.

      Amongst their many drawbacks is a true killer: they require a CRT tube, complete with an electron beam that can be deflected in arbitrary directions. They are utterly incompatible with any other modern display technology such as LCD displays for example (if you want to use vector graphics on an LCD you have to rasterize your vectors first - which neatly defeats the whole idea).

      Then there is a of course the problem with

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        The reason vector displays use a CRT is because the drawing point is controlled by deflecting it in X and Y axes with a continuous analog voltage on each axis against the charged beam, which strikes the CRT plate phosphor coat and glows at that moving point. That effect can be produced by moving rocking a mirror in X and Y axes, onto which a laser is directed. In the 1980s a laser and mirror apparatus with quick and precise positioning were low brightness, electrically inefficient, and physically large. Now

        • ... DLP TVs have a pretty big chamber, even when they're flat.

          You Sir are confused. DLP technology is a raster display technology, where a grid of mirrors etched onto a semi-conductor chip and controlled electronically represents the entire pixel grid. Also, the advances in the size of the LCD displays rendered even it obsolete for TV use. Most stores no longer carry projection TVs of any kind.

          Now we package it all on a single cheap chip for "picoprojectors" for mobile devices and other laser video project

          • by Doc Ruby (173196)

            No, BiggestIgnoramus, I'm not confused. A 2D DLP grid is not a raster - it's a grid. It's pixels, but not raster. You're confused.

            But that's totally irrelevant to what I'm talking about. I'm talking about a DLP TV's projection chamber being suitable for a laser vector display. Which, as I said several times, is something I think could be further developed, which makes whether or not DLPs are increasingly or decreasingly popular now irrelevant. But indeed DLPs are still made and sold. You're confused.

            What ki

            • A 2D DLP grid is not a raster - it's a grid. It's pixels, but not raster. You're confused.

              While technically true, the DLPs are used pretty much exclusively to display input signal meant for a traditional CRT tube, which hasn't changed for decades due to mostly technological inertia. Thus they are classified as "raster" display systems because they accept input formatted and optimized for a raster display. The same is applicable to LCD monitors and TVs which are also technically "grid" displays, yet their r

  • 3D Monster Maze Myth (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ambient Sheep (458624) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @06:09PM (#33772946)

    From the article:

    > The first game to simulate 3D was 3D Monster Maze for the Sinclair ZX81...

    That's the second time recently I've seen that myth trotted out. It's not true. Although a good game, it was actually a copy of a similar game for the Commodore PET that I played at least a year before the ZX81 even came out.

    I know this for sure as I used to play the PET version at school (they got a 3016 in March 1980), and then when I got my own ZX81 (which came out Spring 1981), I was thrilled to be able to play a version of the same game at home when it was released a few months after that.

    • By the way, that's not to say that it might not have been on other platforms (e.g. Apple II, TRS-80) as well as, or even before, the Commodore PET, I just know that I played it on the PET first, before the ZX81 even came out.

    • You may be thinking of Labryinth. Absolutely before the Sinclair.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by julesh (229690)

      "The first game to simulate 3D was 3D Monster Maze for the Sinclair ZX81..."

      That's the second time recently I've seen that myth trotted out. It's not true. Although a good game, it was actually a copy of a similar game for the Commodore PET that I played at least a year before the ZX81 even came out.

      Uh-huh. And on more powerful workstation/minicomputer platforms, such games go back further. "Maze War", which also is sometimes claimed to be the first online multiplayer game, ran on the PDS-1 (a minicomput

  • by fishbowl (7759)

    I had a Blip, a larger similar mechanical pong, and a Mattel Football, all around the same time. I loved these games - they were my favorite games until I got my first computer (TRS-80 the following year.)

  • You just needed to add a keyboard and a floppy disk drive and you had an Amiga!
  • ..and one of those, and those.

    I have that exact golf club LCD game, the full set of 7 different Tomytronic 3D games (as well as the clone fom Tandy), a few Atary Lynx's, that game&watch Mario game plus a pile more, Blip and Barcode Battler.

    He who dies with the most games must've had the most fun in life - at least that's how I see it :)
  • You can't forget the Phantasy Star series for the Sega Genesis. The third in the series especially was ridiculously long and complex for games in general at that time let alone for RPGs. I just played it recently and have been sort of into a retro gaming "thing" and almost every other game that I played when I was like 10 and replayed now, I found totally sucks by my current standards. Phantasy Star 3 and 4 were still amazing though. Definitely the most ahead of its time RPG ever made.

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"

Working...