Old School Gaming

Unified Theory of Racing Maps

Auto Racing

Did you ever play a racing game and wonder just what the world of the tracks might look like? One fine denizen of the interwebs wondered just that, way back in the early days of home gaming consoles. But better than just wondering, he was motivated to follow through, all these years later.

When I was very young, back in the late seventies and early eighties, my friends and I loved playing games for the Atari 2600, the Intellivision, and the ColecoVision. My family owned the Intelivision and one of our favorite games for that system was Auto Racing.

At some point, my friends and I discovered that if one drove carefully off-road, it was possible to reach one of the other tracks from the one you were currently driving on. And then we realized that the tracks listed in the manual existed inside one giant map and all were interconnected. To my ten year old mind, this was fascinating… it was like discovering a treasure map. We tried to draw out the map as we explored but with limited success.

As years passed I would from time to time think of our virtual explorations, still curious as to what that hidden, giant map really looked like.

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Shutdown: Do Your Homework!


If you don’t do your homework, no Mario for you!

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User Input

User Input: Just Too Far

Techie’s Startup from yesterday stirred a few memories that I had very nearly succeeded in burying from the most awkward parts of my childhood. Seriously, I’m going to have to send Techie the therapy bill now. Mostly, it just reminded me that I am just enough of a nerd to build a rig […]


Watch Out!

casio-tm-100-pic 1

You know when you sign up for some new account, and they make you fill out security questions, and then you hope that you can remember what the heck the answers were? The one that always gets me is the 1st/2nd/3rd grade teacher. I am absolutely horribly with names, so I have no idea what those poor ladies names were. My anti-recall powers also extend to friends that I had, especially since back when I was a kid we moved around a fair bit. This meant that I had lots of different friends in lots of different places, some more memorable than others.

Where is this all going? Well, when I was in 3rd and 4th grade I was friends with a guy whose name I actually remember, Zach Baker. (Hopefully that is a generic enough name that he doesn’t get offended that I used his whole name, but that’s how I remember him, first and last name. And Zach, if you see this and remember the story, shoot me an email, we’ll catch up!) Zach was a good dude, and at the time he happened to own a Casio watch–with a built in radio! To our fourth grade selves, this was the awesomest thing ever. I happened to have a mildly ineffective metal detector at this same time, that had come with a small single ear head phone. We schemed how we could wear sweatshirts and take turns listening to the radio in class and no one would ever know. Although it seemed like the perfect plan, we never did actually try it.

Now, you may have heard of the Casio FM radio receiver watch, or like me had the pleasure of knowing someone who had one, or perhaps, you were lucky enough to own one. But did you know that Casio actually made a watch with an FM transmitter built in? It was the TM-100, a digital watch of similar style to the Casio calculator watch we all know and love.

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What Ever Became of…Cabinet Arcade Games?

Good morning everyone, and happy Saturday. Today I would like to tell you all a story, a story of a place where children once went to spend many a Saturday of youth. That place was called the arcade, and it was filled to the brim with all sorts of fantastic video games encased in big cabinets. Now this story isn’t about the arcade, per say, I am not here to lament its loss exactly, but about the games themselves. In recent years I have been to some establishments that traditionally held an arcade–a pizza parlor perhaps, or bowling alley–and it seems that there do indeed still exist those places of gaming. No, the question is, what ever has become of those cabinet based arcade games?

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Quixotic Quantum Quandary

Q³: Fall Festival

Welcome to another fantastic iteration of your favorite Saturday (it’s still Saturday, right?) mystery, Quixotic Quantum Quandary!  Hopefully you all had fun being befuddled by OA5599, and let me again throw in a plug that if you have any sort of oddities that might make a good mystery, please send them in!  Today I want to talk about the crisp fall season.  The changing of the weather always brings with it certain delicious fall sensations that often insert themselves into our collective memories.

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Boys’ Life: Get on Your Soapbox

Gee Whiz! It’s the Midville Soap Box Derby Finals! What will happen? Who will win? What mysterious company is sponsoring this dramatic race? Check out this 1961 Boys’ Life ad and you will find the answers that you seek! But be sure to follow the rules and build carefully.

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What Ever Became of…Sea Monkeys?

Comic books and other magazines of the pulpy variety used to offer up the wonder product seen above, the chance to buy real live pets that you grow yourself! Judging by the strange illustrations you would soon have a tiny family of immodest creatures to provide you with hours of entertainment. I would say that Sea Monkeys stayed around long enough that there must have been people who weren’t totally disappointed in the misleading ads and actually enjoyed their little shrimp, but where have they gotten off to? Did you know that you could once even buy a racetrack to race your monkeys?

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User Input

User Input: Promises, Promises

"Helloooo Computer!"

When I was a young nerd, I long promised myself that there were certain things I would have some day. Some day, I thought, some day I’ll have… that. Or that. Or that. Let’s face it, there were a lot of things I lusted after, reading magazines, watching movies, playing video […]


What Ever Became of…Cap Guns?

Sure, you could buy one of those fancy-pants airsoft pellet guns and assail your friends with tiny plastic balls. But wouldn’t you rather just make loud noises in their general direction? Whether you prefer ring caps, strip caps, or an endless roll, there are guns out there for you–at least there used to be. Now it seems like even the discounted dollar store plastic pistolas have disappeared.

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