Just the signal, not the noise

Hello 8bit'ers,

You read these words, and you guessed it. It is Friday. And you are right. At least 2 days in front of you, which can be filled with super-cool-kind-of-retro-activities

It was an eventful week and what especially stood out, was that Linux turned 30.

Plenty of other things happened as well, but we stick to retro and 8-bit topics, and continue our weekly tradition, to serve you with the best of quasi-antique material, that we found during the last 7 days.

Today our topics are not strictly 8-bit. But all of them are retro the one way or the other.

So grab a drink and make yourself comfortable. We hope, you enjoy Issue #14.

Don't Miss

17739 Games For The C64

The Commodore 64 is the highest-selling single computer model of all time, a fact, that you are probably familiar with. But did you know, that a whopping 10000 commercial titles have been made for the machine? No? 

Now, sit tight, there exist plenty more.

There are at least 17739 commercial and non-commercial pieces of software available for that machine. And at least 17739 of the 17739 are available today free of charge! 🎮

Thanks to the fine folks of archive.org you can not only download all those titles, you can play them right away, fullscreen in your browser. So you are up and running with Outrun, Choplifter or even newer titles like Super Mario Bros. 64 in seconds.

That all works thanks to a port of the VICE emulator to Javascript. And it works very well.

Hint: Every title comes with a .torrent Link, but if you check your browsers devtools, you’ll find a HTTP endpoint for the .d64 image.

Have fun!

Share the signal:

Playstation 1 Via FPGA

Playstation 1 Via FPGA
Source: https://unsplash.com/

When members of the current generation refer to 'retro hardware', one has to accept, that for example the iPhone 1 officially registers as 'retro' already. (That is the moment where at least I start to feel old.) R-E-T-R-O … pah. 👴

So it is definitely questionable, whether the Playstation aka PSX counts as retro hardware. According to my personal chronology, it does not. Nevertheless, the following is so interesting, that we had to include it.

The developer FPGAzumSpass also known as Robert Peip announced a MiSTerFPGA based version of the … drumroll … Playstation 1.

If gaming and slightly older Sony hardware are your cup of tea, you get more information in this article written by atrac17 of the retrorgb team.

To be fair, released in 1994 one could call the PSX … retro. I admit it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Share the signal:

PlayDate Teardown

PlayDate Teardown
Source: https://play.date/

In issue #5 we introduced you to a quite modern but somehow very cool retro-ish console, the PlayDate.

Presales for the 2021 batch are closed, the 2022 batch is in production and panic.inc - the company behind the project - landed a massive success with the console. Without wanting to badmouth the PlayDate in the slightest, things do break. At least most do. (Some got released in 1982 by Commodore and did not even need an operating system update 😂 ... but that's another story.)

And due to the very unfortunate fact that many hardware manufacturers are not really serious about the right to repair, projects like ifixit.com have fallen on fertile ground. This week the iFixIt team has taken on the PlayDate. A wonderful teardown of the console, accompanied by numerous high quality photos opens a view into the innards of this pretty piece of hardware with a crank.

Whether you are one of the lucky ones, or a would-be owner, have a look at the article. Somehow very relaxing and satisfying.

Share the signal:

90s Games In The Browser - EmuPedia

If my memory doesn't deceive me, it must have been around the beginning of the 90s when games first made the step from 2D to 3D. I mean, games like Elite and Cholo paved the way before, but the first fully textured 3D objects arrived in titles like Wing Commander in 1990.

Then quickly - and oddly - everything became 3D. Doom followed in 1993 and later we enjoyed titles like Quake 1-3, HalfLife, Unreal Tournament and the like. And it has been a great time! Especially HalfLife was a milestone regarding graphics, gameplay and atmosphere. They all were.

So where is the point? It’s here at emupedia. Thanks to the modern wonders of WebAssembly these games can be played in the browser now. And that, moreover, super fast and without any restrictions.

Emupedia a nonprofit meta-resource, hub and community to be found at github is the provider of all that goodness. Not only do they publish the aforementioned games, also some more modern titles like Geometry Dash, Flappy Bird and for example a Discord client can be started from the still familiar Windows95/98/ME interface.

Some of the game data needs some loading time. Be patient. But you are rewarded with the real-deal-90s-feel-game-play™. Did I mention Worms? 🪱


Share the signal:

Ahead of the Wave

1-Bit Graphics

One of the things that makes the PlayDate mentioned above so interesting, is the graphics mode. Just 1 bit per pixel. Either black or white. As many restrictions also this one pushes the limits of creativity. And it is astounding, what cool gfx people design even under these circumstances.

Author and creator Lucas Pope digs down into that rabbit hole, creates a 3D scene in Blender, converts it to 2D and manually applies kind of a dithering to end up in a great finale. 🎯

A super interesting read not only for proud PlayDate owners.

Take some time and explore.

Share the signal:

Create Your Own Chip-8 Emulator

Create Your Own Chip-8 Emulator
Source: https://unsplash.com/

Many of us tinker with hardware. Others prefer to move letters back and forth on the screen and build software. However, if you really want to become a master of your profession, then you need to understand, how a computer really works. And I don’t mean programming languages, I don’t mean compilers and I do not even mean assembly.

I mean the level below. How do machine instructions consisting just of zeros and ones actually get processed? How do registers, ALUs, program counters, buses etc. really work together? The moment you understand that, you play in a different league. 💯

And one - actually very rewarding - way to understand that, is to build an emulator. Such a piece of software reads the target architecture's machine code byte by byte and implements operations - normally executed by hardware - in software. Writing an emulator for a complex target architecture is … well, complex. So why not start with the opposite and therefore a simple architecture?

And what fits the term 'simple architecture' better than CHIP-8

Initially developed by Joseph Weisbecker for the COSMAC VIP back in the mid-70s, CHIP-8 somehow represents one of the first virtual machines. By porting this VM to other hardware and architectures, one gets a whole series of old-school games for free. So no boring task ahead. If you succeed, there are a number of games to be played on your emulator.

There exists a perceived myriad of CHIP-8 Emulators out there already. And Eric Grandt decided, to add one more. His article is neither super fresh, nor mega innovative. But it is super complete. Eric creates a fully functional CHIP-8 version in Javascript, and his article is the perfect brain food for a rainy weekend.

And a weekend is more than enough to Create your own CHIP-8 Emulator.

Enjoy Space Invaders 👾! Send us some cookies afterwards.

Share the signal:

Collision Detection Part 2

Collision Detection Is Hard - Part II
Source: https://unsplash.com/

In issue #10 we had the pleasure to present a wonderful article by Nicole Express on the topic of collision detection.

For all of you, who have been eagerly waiting for the second and final part, there is good news. Actually there is not only news, there is Nicole’s article. 👈

Even though you meet ALF again, we are sure, no cats have been harmed during production. But whether you like ALF or not does not matter. In Nicole’s meticulously assembled mini series you learn everything you need to know about sprite collision detection.

Give it a read. And check out issue #10 for the first article. 

Share the signal:

Library of Nostalgia

Library Of Nostalgia
Source: https://unsplash.com/

This is a big one. Register your annual leave with your boss. Preferably in one piece, you will need time!

Robin from 8BitShowAndTell mentioned the site of one of his friends with a number of book scans in one of his videos. We checked. And then we checked again. 👀

Then we tried to find out, who the author is. We believe, it is probably aphexteknol aka Mitchell Dayton but without any guarantee.

What this gentleman compiled (probably during the last 400 years or so), is simply amazing - to say the least. A huge collection of scans of books, magazines, manuals accompanied by software for all the platforms, that we love so much. Commodore, Atari, TI, Sinclair … you find nearly everything.

Don't let the not-so-fresh look of the website fool you. It's all about the inner values. And apropos values … we seriously hope, that copyright is no issue here. 😳

Share the signal:


Chip-8 on Game & Watch

You really decided to implement your very own CHIP-8 emulator? The universe loves you. But you know what? Alfonso Luna did the same in C and installed everything on the Nintendo Game & Watch.

Given the fact, that the device naturally runs Super Mario Bros. one could call this a real downgrade. 😜 But a super cool one.

Check out his video on YouTube and his github, you will find plenty of CHIP-8 related resources linked there.

Share the signal:

Brand New Soundblaster

Do you remember the very special and specific sound of Creative Labs Sound Blaster cards? Well, on eBay they are actually not rare yet, but you simply do not get a brand new one anymore.

Unless you visit texelec and purchase one of their Soundblaster rebuilds.

LGR Blerbs did exactly that, and documented the results. Of course it is purely a PC thingy, and there is no relation to 8-bit here, but the Soundblaster is an icon of that era, and if your ears hear it’s sound, your brain will recognize it.

Give the video a try, we think, you will like it. 

Share the signal:

How to Speed Up Tape Load

Noel Llopis aka NoelsRetroLab did it again. He solved one of the problems, that - probably - gave most of us sleepless nights in the 80s. Until floppy disc drives became a thing. 💾

Loading programs and games from tape can be a frustrating process. Depending on the payload’s size, it just takes time. Noel explores ways to speed up the process, and since there exist 8-bit machines, which come with an integrated tape deck, that absolutely makes sense. Still today.

Even if you do not own one of these vintage machines and no tapes no more, the video is super interesting and you will learn a thing. Amusing, informative. Like always.

Share the signal:

Game Dev for Cassette 50 Comp

Building your own CHIP-8 emulator was not enough? Still some capacity for 6502 assembly development left? Then you landed at the right spot!

John known as OldSkoolCoder attended the C64 Cassette 50 Charity Competition. The comp ended in March 2021, but John and companions decided to create a whole video series during their development. The goal was, to create a game in the first 4kB of RAM.

If you want to finally learn C64 Assembly, give his latest video a try. You will like it and learn a ton.

Share the signal:

What a collection of topics. We seriously hope, you liked at least some of them. We definitely liked writing about them.

You made it until here, therefore let us say Thank you! We are very happy with the current state of affairs, but of course we continuously want to improve our magazine. Therefore, we would love to hear from you! ❤️ Ideas, criticism, whatever it is, do not hesitate to write us a message. You can always directly respond to this very email or use our suggest feature in the site.

Should you like 8bitnews, please help us to spread the word. Feel free to share a link with friends, write about us, mention us on twitter or other social platforms. Our Pinky & Brain approach to conquer the world relies on you!

Take care until next week! And as always...

Create something. And speak about it!

Jan & Bastian

This email was forwarded to you? You can sign up here to receive it directly.

View our privacy policy here.

Made with 🍉 in Berlin

More content like that - only for subscribers. Free of charge. Free of SPAM. Rich in retro.