BANG! – Card Game Review

BANG! The Card Game

BANG! The Card Game

This past Friday night, some of my co-workers and I had our first board game night at a local tavern that we are hoping to turn into a semi weekly event. This week we played the card game BANG! by Emiliano Sciarra and published by daVinci Editrice S.r.l. BANG! is a game for 4-7 players. Each player is assigned at random a vocation: Sheriff, Deputy, Outlaw, or Renegade. Each player is also assigned at random a character role.

For a four player game there may be 1 Sheriff, 1 Renegade, and 2 Outlaws.
For a five player game there may be 1 Sheriff, 1 Renegade, 2 Outlaws, and a Deputy.
For a six player game there may be 1 Sheriff, 1 Renegade, 3 Outlaws, and a Deputy.
For a seven player game there may be 1 Sheriff, 1 Renegade, 3 Outlaws, and 2 Deputies.

The game ends and a group of winners are declared when the Sheriff is killed or all the Outlaws and the Renegade is killed. If the Outlaws and Renegade are killed, the Sheriff and his Deputies win the game. If the Sheriff is killed and there are any Outlaws still alive, the Outlaws win. Otherwise, the Renegade wins. We had all seven players in our game, so we were able to play this game to its fullest extent and designer’s intent.

Each player’s turn consists of three actions. First the player draws two cards. Then the player plays any number of the cards in their hand. Finally, the player discards their excess cards to the number they are allowed to hold in their hands. A player may only hold the number of cards in their hands that are equal to their character’s current hit points.

The typical action of play is to shoot other players with BANG! cards in order to deplete their hit points. When a BANG! card is played against a player, the opposing player may play a Missed! card which keeps them from taking any damage. In most cases, a player may only play one BANG! card per turn. Another very common card is the Beer card. This card restores one hit point to the player who uses it.

Each player starts out with a Colt .45 pistol which has a range of 1. The range is how many seats away from a player you are. Therefore, with a gun having a range of 1, I could hit a player on my right or my left, but not a player two seats down from me. In order to hit a player two seats down, I would need a weapon with a range of 2. If the player beside me were to lose all their hit points and die, then the player next to them would then have a range 1 from me, and no longer a range 2.

To my left, going clockwise around the table, I found myself sharing the old wild west with quite the band of notorious characters. Slab the Killer had four hit points. Whenever Slab played a BANG! card, the opposing player had to play two missed cards in order to keep from being hit. Next to Slab was Kit Carlson. Kit also started with four hit points, but at the start of each turn was able to draw three cards, choose two, and then place the third back on top of the draw pile face down.

Then came our Sheriff, Paul Regret. Paul only had three hit points, but because of his status as Sheriff, he got to have one extra hit point to bring his total to four hit points. Paul also had an automatic Mustang in play. The Mustang is a card that requires other players to have an additional +1 range in order to hit you with a gun. This automatic Mustang would not keep Paul from playing an actual Mustang and adding +2 to the range others would need to hit him.

Then came Willy the Kid with four hit points. Willy had the ability to play any number of BANG! cards in one turn. Next to Willy was Lucky Duke. Lucky had four hit points. Whenever Lucky was forced to DRAW! to determine how a random event would play out, he was able to draw two cards from the top of the pile, choose the one that worked best in his favor, then discard both cards. Next to me was Suzy Lafeyette. Suzy had four hit points. She could also draw a card if there were no more cards in her hand. In the wild west, my name was Calamity Janet. I could play BANG! cards as Missed! cards and vice versa. My vocation was Deputy, and it was my duty to protect the Sheriff from all Outlaws and Renegades.

BANG! Game Contents

BANG! Game Contents

Play began with the Sheriff. Immediately after drawing two cards on his first turn, Mr. Paul Regret played a Mustang increasing the range to hit him to +2. The other citizens, not to be out gunned, quickly replaced their meager pistols with high range rifles. Lucky Duke on his turn even equipped a scope (adds +1 to existing range) in order to have complete range over the gun fight. Lucky fired the first shot, wounding and taking one hit point of life from Suzy Lafeyette.

Slab the Killer, living up to his name, came out shooting. First, he fired at your’s truly. Fortunately I had a handful of Missed! and BANG! cards. I played two in order to dodge his bullet. Not yet satisfied, he played a Gatling Gun, sending a series of bullets out toward every player. While I dodged the fire, others weren’t so lucky. Many were wounded.

Looking on at the carnage, the Sheriff sought to systematically pick off the most violent offenders within range. Willy the Kid, living up to his reputation of being a good shot, unleashed a rain of bullets down on Lucky Duke for his treatment of Suzy Lafeyette. When possible, everyone who was wounded was drinking beers to restore their hit points.

On my next turn, I drew a Saloon card. The Saloon card increases everyone’s hit points around the table by one provided they are not already at full health. With everyone shooting at everyone else, I really didn’t know who was to blame. As far as I was concerned as an enforcer of the law, everyone is innocent until proven guilty. So I played the Saloon card and bought everyone a round of drinks, bringing their hit points up a notch. I was also hoping to win friends and influence people, but was quick to discover that outlaws can’t be bargained or reasoned with.

Slab the Killer was at it again. He played the stick of dynamite which made its way around the table. At the beginning of each player’s turn, the player would draw a card. If that card showed a spade with a number between 2 and 9, then the Dynamite would explode causing that player to lose three hit points. Otherwise, the dynamite would be passed to the next player. To the glee of all the criminals involved, the dynamite made a complete rotation around the table and then stopped in front of Kit Carlson. Poor Kit had a bad luck of the draw, the dynamite exploded and he was the first to buy the farm.

Posthumously, we discovered that Kit was the Renegade. Relieved that a threat had been neutralized, but seeking retribution in the death of an innocent man, the Sheriff made it his task to bring Slab the Killer to justice with targeted shootings. Meanwhile, Willy the Kid ran out of bullets in his assault on Lucky Duke. Both down at one hit point, Lucky challenged Willy to a duel. When a duel card is played against a player, the opposing player must play a BANG! card to return fire. Each player must keep playing BANG! cards until a player no longer has a BANG! card left. Unlucky for Willy, he no longer had any cards left in his hand and received a face full of bullet. This greatly saddened and troubled the Sheriff and myself since Willy turned out to be one of the Sheriff’s deputies.

Quickly realizing that I was the only deputy left in the game, I knew which players were guilty and needed to be brought to justice. I pulled out my rifle and began my retribution on Suzy Lafayette, who was the closest player to me. Lucky mistook Suzy for the deputy and followed me in shooting Suzy as well. Paul Regret, seeing the carnage after killing off Slab the Killer, intervened in our squabble killing off Lucky Duke. Two outlaws down, only the Sheriff, myself, and Suzy Lafayette remained. The Sheriff not realizing who I was due to my undercover disguise started shooting at me thinking I was the final Outlaw. When Suzy had run out of cards, I challenged her to a duel. Empty handed, I distributed the last projectile of justice that sealed the game.

I turned to Paul Regret and spoke to his surprised face. “Congratulations!” I said. Somehow from beyond the grave my fellow deputy Willy the Kid came up to me and extended his hand for a hand shake, his ghost holding a beer excited, “Yes, congratulations! We won the game!” I shook his hand and together we all savored the moment of victory. And that my friends was how the west was won.

Puzzle Kingdoms – Wii Game First Impressions

Puzzle Kingdoms Title Screen

Puzzle Kingdoms Title Screen

When judging by its cover, Puzzle Kingdoms presents itself as a simple generic jewel matching puzzle game where you get three or more items together in a group and they disappear. While that’s essentially the game play in a nutshell, Puzzle Kingdoms subtly offers so much more. Multiple mini game modes are provided including a two player competitive mode. I played the campaign mode for this initial first impression.

Puzzle Kingdoms Character Creation

Character Creation

When beginning the campaign mode, the player may pick their character to proceed. The only options are one stock warrior avatar for either male or female. There is no customization here. Even the character’s name is randomly generated. If you don’t like the name of your chosen gender, you can keep clicking on the opposite gender then click back again until you get a name you like. I personally would have liked to have the name ElbinoBunny, but I don’t know how many clicks it would take to get to that. The world may never know.

Puzzle Kingdoms Initial Backstory

Puzzle Kingdoms Initial Backstory

The campaign mode features a campy, generic fantasy adventure story. The campaign starts off with a slide show presentation cut scene of the story thus far. The player is then greeted with an over-world map from which they can see the kingdoms of the land. All other kingdoms except for the starting kingdom are off limits to the player. The starting kingdom provides the tutorial for how the game is played.

Once the player has clicked on the current kingdom, another comic-book like cut scene begins to give some episodic back story and some super dry campy humor. The story is certainly an acquired taste. I got bored with it the first play through, but as I played through it tonight I have felt the characters grow on me. At first glance the entire Puzzle Kingdoms chronicled saga seems to be filler in between the puzzles which are the main event. Upon further inspection it seems someone actually took some time to create some depth into such seemingly throw away characters.

Purchasing Troops

Purchasing Troops

Once all the cut scenes are over, the player receives control of a hero and can recruit soldiers using gold to fight under that hero’s banner. Each hero may recruit up to four soldiers to fight. In the initial tutorial and into the next kingdom, the player may only recruit peasants, archers, and swordsmen. The peasants are so incredibly weak they seemed like a waste of a recruit to me. Archers have increased attack strength, but are weaker on defense. Swordsmen have greater defense, but are weaker than archers on their attack. At the beginning of the game I recruited an extra swordsman because of their greater defensive capability, but there is actually more to this decision than I understood at the time.

Puzzle Gameplay

Puzzle Gameplay

The objective of the puzzle portion of the game is to get three or more symbols (the game calls them power blocks) in a grouping to gain points. This is where having chosen your recruited units is important. Swordsmen may only attack after the player has grouped together the equivalent of three white crosses three times. If the player groups four white crosses, then they get a bonus cross out of it. An archer, however, may attack after two sets of three green leaves, or one grouping of four green leaves have been matched, thereby often getting their attacks out of the gate much quicker. Peasants are the worst requiring three sets of three yellow suns to attack.

Zap Move

Zap Move

When a player matches three or more of the crossed swords together, a zap of damage is dealt to one of the opposing player’s units. All other power blocks that are not used to provide attack points to units send power directly to the hero. When the hero has enough points, the hero may cast a spell.

Puzzle Kingdoms Wii Disc

Puzzle Kingdoms Wii Disc

So far Puzzle Kingdoms has been surprising interesting and addictive. Unfortunately while I was working on this first impression the disc I had stopped loading correctly in my Wii U. I was a little shocked at how sorry I was that I wasn’t able to play further in this game. Despite it’s mediocre graphical presentation for the system, the game play feels top notch. I most certainly will try to swing back by and give this one a closer look once I figure out what I can do to get it to load properly again.

Compiling Wine on the Raspberry Pi – Compiling the Kernel and Next Steps

It took me days to recompile the kernel for the Raspberry Pi. If you’ll remember from my last post, I was attempting to recompile the Ubuntu Mate kernel in order to remap the memory split to be 3G/1G user/kernel in order to be compatible with Wine’s memory mapping. I ran into many troubles while seeking to recompile the kernel that I will go over here.

The Raspberry Pi has one gigabyte of on-board RAM. Cloning the Ubuntu kernel source repository using git on a Raspberry Pi uses more than the one gigabyte window. In order to pull down the source to compile it, I had to reconfigure a spare USB external hard disk as a swap partition. This allowed me to pull down the source and begin the kernel configuration process.

The kernel was easy enough to configure, I noticed that the 3G/1G user/kernel configuration setting was set by default, so I was puzzled as to why it got turned off on my particular build. Then compiling the configured kernel takes hours. I’d sleep on it, and find out I hadn’t installed OpenSSL development files. I’d sleep on it again, and then I would discover another development library I had failed to consider. Finally I got my kernel recompiled and installed on my Raspberry Pi. Wouldn’t you know it, the Wine error remains; it appears that maybe my original kernel was configured correctly all along. I’m going to have to dig deeper on this one to figure out what can be done.

For now though I intend to return to generating and posting game reviews. I still want to pursue the idea of making a single board computer a universal gaming platform, but there is so much work that really should be done in building out the Bunny Gamer site and documenting the games in my game collection for the time being.

Compiling Wine on the Raspberry Pi – Making the Build and First Test

Before I went to sleep last night I ran the make command to compile the development version of Wine 2.12 from source. Understandably, the compilation took quite a lot of time. After spending two hours periodically glancing at it, I decided to just go to sleep. I woke up to a Raspberry Pi with a fully compiled version of Wine with no errors or warnings! I was excited the whole day I was at work wishing I could just be home to test an actual Windows game on my Raspberry Pi.

After finally getting home and attending to all of the urgent errands on my list for the day, I downloaded The Longest Journey from GOG.com and attempted to run the setup utility on my Raspberry Pi system. It was then that I received an error I have never encountered in my history of using Wine.

Warning: memory above 0x80000000 doesn’t seem to be accessible.
Wine requires a 3G/1G user/kernel memory split to work properly.

My first thought was, “Since when does Wine require 4 GB of RAM? I’m going to need an external hard drive for some super slow swap space.” As I sat contemplating my dilemma, I decided to research the error to see how others handled it. Apparently this error has nothing to do with the amount of memory you have, but instead how it is handled by the kernel. When compiling the kernel, there are around four different ways to configure the allocation of memory between the user and the kernel. From what I have been reading it seems Ubuntu Mate’s default kernel is allocated 2G/2G.

Therefore, it appears it is time for me to reconfigure and recompile my kernel. Stepping through kernel recompilation instructions on the Ubuntu BuildYourOwnKernel Wiki, I have found significant differences in their instructions and how the Raspberry Pi kernel is actually configured. Over the next day I will attempt to recompile my own kernel and then post supplemental instructions to those who may have difficulty recompiling their Raspberry Pi Linux kernel and to my future self should I have to do this again.

Compiling Wine on the Raspberry Pi – Initial Attempt, the Configuration Script

Yesterday I used colorful words to convey my assumption that very little work has been done in the area of getting the free software program Wine to work on the Raspberry Pi platform. Boy was I wrong. I downloaded the version 2.12 release of the development source and ran the configuration script. I was greeted with a few errors for lack of dependencies, but they were the same errors I have received in the past when compiling on an x86 or x64 machine.

Once I had those dependencies installed, the configuration script completed successfully, but recommended several packages that would make a compiled instance of Wine more functional and enjoyable to use. I will list those packages here for those who wish to compile their own version of Wine for the Raspberry Pi using Ubuntu Mate 16.04.2. After I had those packages installed, I ran the configuration script one more time with no issue. It is remarkable how many libraries have been ported over for the armhf architecture. This almost seems too easy. I checked for an actual Wine binary in the Ubuntu package repository using Synaptic Package Manager. Wine-Development, libwine-development, wine-mono0.0.08, wine32-development, and winetricks are available in the repository, but the actual Wine runtime binary is not.

I will continue my attempt to compile the Wine development snapshot 2.12 on the Raspberry Pi and will report my progress. As promised, here are the suggested libraries and their current Ubuntu 16.04.2 packages.

libjpeg – libjpeg-dev
libgnutls – libgnutls-dev
libxslt – libxslt1-dev
libxml2 – libxml2-dev
libldap – libldap2-dev
libopenal – libopenal-dev
libmpg123 – libmpg123-dev
libtiff – libtiff5-dev
libgsm – libgsm1-dev
libcups – libcups2-dev
libcapi20 – libcapi20-dev
libudev – libudev-dev
gstreamer-1.0 – libgstreamer1.0-dev
libpulse – libpulse-dev
liblcms2 – liblcms2-dev
libgphoto2_port – libgphoto2-port12
libgphoto2 – libgphoto2-dev
libv4l – libv4l-dev
libsane – libsane-dev
lib(n)curses – libncurses5-dev
libdbus – libdbus-1-dev
pcap – libpcap-dev
OpenCL – ocl-icd-opencl-dev
libOSMesa – libosmesa6-dev
libGLU – libglu1-mesa-dev
libxcomposite – libxcomposite-dev
libxinerama – libxinerama-dev
libxfixes – libxfixes-dev
libxrandr – libxrandr-dev
libXxf86vm – libxxf86vm-dev
XShape – libxcb-shape0-dev
XShm – libxshmfence-dev
libxi – libxi-dev
libxcursor – libxcursor-dev

First Scrum

A little bit of a site update. I got sick, and then got busy, and then lost track of time. Here it is nearly a week since I last posted anything. I have decided therefore that I will be posting each day to keep my mind focused on keeping this site going. It has always been a dream of mine to host a gaming site, and I refuse to let it go by the wayside simply because I lose track of time.

It is my intention to publish a daily post of what I have been working on and what I am planning on working on each and every day. This daily post is more for my own purposes, to keep me focused on building the kind of site I wish to have. You could almost think of it as a public scrum to myself. It’s not necessary for anyone else to read; I won’t link to these daily posts from social media.

But these posts will give a reader, me included, some insight into the incremental thoughts that lead me to each planned iteration of every Bunny Gamer project. Each project will get me closer to delivering the kind of site that will help myself and gamers like me more easily find and play games. The original intent of the Bunny Gamer site is two-fold. To provide a database of game reviews that document the original platform, format, single and multi-player options, rules, and relative fun provided by each game in my collection. And to provide information on compatibility – how well does this game play on newer, various systems or how can I get this game to work on a newer or different kind of system.

When I first began seriously collecting games, DOS was the operating system that was compatible with the most games. Around five years later, it was Windows 98. Another ten years after that, it was Windows XP. It was at that point that I began to sort all of my games into a database and keep track of their stats. I figured the next Windows operating system would be the most compatible gaming operating system, with Windows XP being at least a fall-back. Now with Windows 10, and for most versions of Windows 7, there isn’t a lot of good compatibility for older games natively. I have been impressed, however, with the quality of Linux when it comes to playing games in recent years and Valve’s support through the Steam platform to ensure there are many games represented on Linux. The Wine program for Linux also provides an open, free software platform for potentially running any other game that might fall through the cracks.

The most impressive piece of game compatibility hardware I have used lately though is the Raspberry Pi. I set one up with a RetroPie install. Immediately after the initial install I was able to play NES, SNES, Genesis, Game Boy, Atari 2600, and Game Gear games. I attempted to play N64 games, but they were a little too laggy to play. I’m going to research further to see if it is possible to get the N64 games performing well enough to play. If I can get all of my games from prior to the end of the N64 era working on my Raspberry Pi, then it seems possible a single board computer could play around 30 years of gaming history, right from the television screen in my den.

What would really be impressive would be to get Wine working on the Raspberry Pi. I have been lurking in the Wine development forums and have been reading about some people trying to get help compiling the Wine source on the ARM architecture. I would imagine someone on the other end rolling their eyes if I were to send out such an email, but it’s got wheels turning in my head. My plan for tomorrow is to pull down the latest development snapshot of Wine on a fresh instance of Ubuntu Mate running on my Raspberry Pi. I will attempt to compile the source and see how many and what kind of errors I receive.

Cross-Up – Board Game Review

Cross-Up Box Cover

Cross-Up Box Cover

I found and purchased this board game, Cross-Up by Milton Bradley, at an antique shop in Sweetwater, Tennessee. When I saw it I turned to my wife and said, “Look! It’s Lucy from I Love Lucy!!!” Judging the cover of the game, I would assume that is what the publishers would have hoped a prospective buyer like me would have done. As can be seen in the image, the cover has a canned cursive Lucy signature. The signature looks nothing like the signature on the Lucille Ball Wikipedia page. Despite this and the image of her sitting behind the table, this game appears to have no further references to the great American icon.

Cross-Up has a copyright date of 1974. According to Wikipedia, 1974 was the last year Lucy was credited as starring in any particular movie or show. It kind of hurts me to look at her face. She’s like a grandmother smiling longingly at me, hoping she’ll get to play the game with me, while also sad and exasperated like she has low expectations that will ever happen. I hope they simply edited her picture onto the cover, otherwise I would feel sorry for the camera man who surely felt he must play the game she’s advertising to keep from breaking her heart. Enough about that, on to the game-play.

Cross-Up Game Components

Cross-Up Game Components

Cross-Up is advertised as a game for two or more players. I would like to know if there is a world record on the number of people who have played Cross-Up at one time. Four game pads are provided, but the five-by-five letter play grid is easy enough to draw out on a piece of scrap paper.

Cross-Up Letter Card Piles

Cross-Up Letter Card Piles

There are two decks of cards containing one letter on each card. The decks are shuffled together and dealt face down into six equal piles. Each face down pile is then turned face up and placed in a spot within the letter card tray. The letter frequencies are as follows.

A – 9; B – 4; C – 4; D – 4; E – 12; F – 3; G – 3; H – 3; I – 9; J – 2; K – 2; L-4; M – 3; N – 6; O – 8; P – 3; Q – 1; R – 6; S – 4; T – 6; U – 4; V – 2; W – 2; X – 1; Y – 2; Z – 1; Total: 108

It is best for all players to agree on a dictionary before play begins to alleviate the kinds of conflicts that arise out of playing word game board games. Take care when doing this. While house rules often state that if a word is in the dictionary it’s fair game, I noticed that the Merriam-Webster dictionary we were using had correct spellings of popular biographical figures, and we all know that’s not Scrabble kosher.

The rules say all of the players simply determine who will go first by mutual consensus. They obviously have never played a game with the people I play with. We used a single die, highest roller went first. Each player chooses a letter tile, calls it out loud, and places it prominently where everyone can see it. Then each player chooses where they would like to place that letter within their five-by-five play grid. Play continues in a clockwise manner with everyone drawing a card until 25 cards are drawn. Once players have filled out their play grids after the 25th letter, they calculate the points of the number of three to five letter words they were able to construct. The letters J, K, Q, V, W, X, Y, and Z are considered special letters. If a word contains one special letter, the total point value of that word is multiplied by two. With two special letters it is multiplied by four. With three special letters it is multiplied by eight. And with four special letters it is multiplied by sixteen!

Cross-Up Play Grid

Cross-Up Play Grid

The corners of the play grid are labeled starting in the upper left corner and going clockwise: A, B, D, and C. Legal words may be read horizontally A to B, vertically A to C, diagonally A to D, or diagonally C to B. The point values are rated below. As can be seen, it pays to favor diagonal words over horizontal ones. Five letter words are the brass ring.

Diagonal 5 Letter – 15 points
Diagonal 4 Letter – 8 points
Diagonal 3 Letter – 5 points
Horizontal/Vertical 5 Letter – 10 points
Horizontal/Vertical 4 Letter – 4 points
Horizontal/Vertical 3 Letter – 3 points

Cross-Up Final Score

Cross-Up Final Score

As you can see from our scores, I tend to be awful at word games. That being said, I think playing this game would help someone who was trying to become a better Scrabble player. The entire game could be viewed as an exercise in creating as many three to five letter adjoining words in a tight space as possible, an art that really separates the expert Scrabble players from the loser laymen like me. Cross-Up is a simple game that takes little time and preparation to play and is fairly enjoyable while it lasts. See if you can pick it up for around three dollars like I did.

Daikon Set – Wii U Game Review

Daikon Set Title Screen

Daikon Set Title Screen

According to Wikipedia, the word daikon literally translates to “big root” in Japanese. It is described as a “mild flavored winter radish” that is “characterized by fast-growing leaves and a long, white, napiform root. However, Daikon Set, by Butterfly Corporation, is a downloadable suite of three retro-style (think Atari 2600) mini-games for the Wii U. On the fourth of July holiday, my son and I were playing some Wii games on my Wii U when I noticed a little Mii in the online Miiverse saying something on the order of, “This game is actually free!” I thought, why not, and clicked on it.

Chroma Star Title Screen

Chroma Star Title Screen

Daikon Set takes a little while to download and install but once I had it running, I encountered a menu with three game options. The first game is called Chroma Star. At first glance it looks like a space invaders type arcade shooter. When I went to shoot the enemy ships, however I learned very quickly that my laser bullets were not blowing them up but were instead just pushing them back. The objective is to continue to push back all of the invading ships until the background musical score finishes playing.

Chroma Star Gameplay

Chroma Star Gameplay

The first few times picking it up and playing through the game it was much more challenging than I expected. But after a little practice, it actually became quite boring and tedious waiting for the song to end. A scoring system where I could have received a high score would have probably eliminated this sour feeling. I made it through the first two levels to reach a final level boss fight. All I had to do in the boss fight was to dodge a mild bullet hell and then I was greeted with a screen informing me the game was complete.

Pink Mite Title Screen

Pink Mite Title Screen

The second game is called Pink Mite. In this game, the player plays as a little fairy inside a bubble, floating around dangerous obstacles attempting to collect bubbles along the way. Miss a bubble and you die, and the game ends. Hit an obstacle, same deal. The concept of game play is similar to playing a water level in a Mario game. You press the primary fire button to float in the direction the D-pad is pointing. Yet the controls are incredibly fluid and responsive. Every time my fairy died, it felt fair and was almost frustration free. In fact this is an incredibly relaxing game. It’s the kind of game that I could see myself coming home from a long day of work and playing just to forget about the stresses of life for awhile.

Pink Mite Gameplay

Pink Mite Gameplay

The music in Daikon Set is composed of surprisingly good chip tune mixes. The title theme is incredibly catchy, and the themes for the levels are relaxing and put me at ease while I play. I suppose that was actually a frustrating thing for me. While I was on edge trying to concentrate on beating a level, the soothing flow of background music was out of sync with my emotional feelings of concentration. When I’m really into this game, I somehow get annoyed at how relaxed it makes me feel. I would recommend, and it’s almost as if the game were designed this way, for any player to just breathe, calm down, and not expect any sort of achievement while playing. Just simply enjoy and experience Daikon Set for what it is.

The Queen Title Screen

The Queen Title Screen

The third game in the Daikon Set is called The Queen. Imagine repelling a ball like in Pong, but then attempting to dodge the same ball simultaneously. The player controls a large rectangle with two colors, cyan and purple. There is a bouncing ball that glides around the edges of the screen. The objective is to keep the bouncing pong ball from hitting the purple side of the rectangle, which represents the queen and hitting the pong ball with the cyan ball. This one has strangely been the hardest one of all for me thus far, though I’ll probably have it figured out better within another day of additional play or so.

The Queen Gameplay

The Queen Gameplay

If you are interested in arcade retro style game play, then I would recommend trying the Daikon Set. It is not the most impressive retro title I have played on a more modern console system, but it is fun, and it is certainly hard to beat the price of free.

Atari ST Disk Backup – Project Complete.

 

Atari 1040STF 2.5MB

Atari 1040STF 2.5MB

I successfully copied all of my 833 Atari ST disks into disk images and backed them up redundantly on multiple computer systems and a USB thumb stick. It took approximately a week and a half to completely copy all of the disks. The final archive size of all of these disks compressed is 182 MB.

The original method I was using to do the disk copying was directly on the Atari ST. A surprisingly often little known fact is that all Atari ST systems running Atari TOS version 1.04 or greater will fully read and write any 720KB or 320KB 3.5 inch floppy disk in MS-DOS format natively. I attempted to use this functionality by formatting a disk in double-density 720KB MS-DOS format using Windows 2000, place that disk into the external drive B of my Atari ST, and then copy the files directly from the Atari ST formatted 720KB disk in the internal drive A. This worked for multiple titles, but I discovered a glaring issue. The set of allowable characters in file and folder names on the Atari ST is greater than those for Windows 2000. Windows will not allow many special characters in file and folder names, including the infamous Atari Fuji symbol.

Thankfully, I found a program called FloImg. By installing a prerequisite Atari ST disk driver directly on my Windows 2000 system, I was able to copy the files directly from Windows into Atari ST disk images. I would title each disk image with a Windows file system friendly name and then the contents of the disk would just be available to the Atari ST emulator itself. Using Hatari as my emulator, I am constructing a hard disk image with all of my favorite files (mostly games) from these copied floppies.

It was surprising to me how many floppy disks copied with no errors after decades of storage. The oldest disks in my collection had file and folder modified dates dating back to 1985, over thirty years ago! Yet my data failure rate was just a little over one percent. In fact, many of the disks that did fail, I recalled having problems with when I was younger. I did notice that the Atari ST seems to read disks from start to finish. If there is a data issue on the end of the disk, but there is no required data there, the software seems to continue to function with no issue. I have actually had double-density MS-DOS IBM formatted disks fail completely to read in Windows, but then loaded them up on the Atari ST and dragged as many files off as could be read onto another disk for continued use.

Now that all of these floppies are successfully copied, it’s time to turn my attention to my Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, and IBM 5.25-inch floppy disks. More information on that to come. Feel free to comment about your own fun floppy disk experiences below.