| submitted by /u/countesstwatwaffle
glad i dont use either because i am always ahead of the trendz
Ubiquitous microblogging service Twitter on Friday announced an imminent end to its native Mac client, saying the change comes as part of efforts to maintain a consistent user experience across all platforms.
Although Apple's new headquarters just opened last month, it may already need a round of renovations. According to insiders at Apple's Cupertino spaceship campus, employees have been walking into the facility's glass walls since it opened.
The building's work spaces, known as "pods," feature plenty of glass walls meant to inspire collaboration -- a feature that's as optimistic as it is inconvenient. Naturally, with employees walking the hallways while staring at their phones, the transparent blockades have resulted in repeated staffer collisions. Reportedly, efforts to prevent danger include sticking Post-It notes on danger zones in an attempt to stave off accidents in high-density areas.
Read the entire story over on Bloomberg's site.
Meanwhile, Apple has its hands full with a more pressing issue: an iOS bug crashing iPhones and disabling iMessage.
Well the end of this week turned into a weird roller coaster of news for arcade stuff. As the two main items ended up soaking up all my time, that’s all we’ll be discussing.
I’ve not personally met with or done business with either Mitchell or Bushnell, in case that disclaimer needs to be said.
Gamer Of The Century Billy Mitchell Accused Of Cheating On Certain Scores For Donkey Kong
UPDATE: Billy Mitchell has responded by appearing on an online show behind a paywall. As such, I don’t have the video of it yet, which is supposed to be uploaded to YouTube on Thursday. A user on the Twin Galaxies forums uploaded a partial transcript of the interview which is a bit long and covers other items, mainly that he has an attitude of all the press is good since he’s booking more deals than ever. To distill his defense for you, he is claiming that the video that the original accuser used for the analysis wasn’t Billy’s ; that Twin Galaxies has a video that should vindicate him in terms of showing a crowd and the images. Said video was not shown on the chat
Another claim against Mitchell is that the MAME pattern appears to be used in this video as well but is difficult to ascertain by just pausing a YouTube video and trying to go frame by frame. Mitchell mentions this video in the interview.
In My Opinion: I think that the best way to resolve any of this would be to have a second, independent analysis on it all. Not from Billy’s friends nor his haters, just someone without any monetary investment in it or an axe to grind. Also, I think that for any live events, the referees shouldn’t be “good friends” with Billy or any other competitor. The first KoK covered that somewhat bizarre setup for the competitive gaming circuit and I think that it taints the whole process.
Original Post: I saw this start to explode on social media the other day and was waiting to see if there was a response from Mr. Mitchell himself in regards to the issue but there is none I have seen at this moment in time. I want to be careful about this stuff as we’ll see in the next piece of news, Trial By Internet Witch Hunt is an extremely easy trap to fall into.
If you’re visiting AH, then you already know who Billy Mitchell is to some degree. Some love him, some hate him. To the former crowd, this allegation that he cheated on certain Donkey Kong scores by using MAME when he claimed he did them on a live machine is scandal; to the haters it’s vindication for ‘what they always knew to be true.’ Venture Beat has an article that distills some of the history along with the accusations.
That all said, the accusation is thoroughly detailed and documented here, showing comparisons between how MAME and a true arcade board will draw Donkey Kong’s screen; if MAME were used, it is easy to rewind and retry an attempt, thus making it possible to cheat. If true, this calls into question other non-refereed submissions but I am even seeing some say that all of his scores should be pulled regardless.
If Mr. Mitchell posts a defense to these accusations I’ll be sure to share them here. THere is another Kong Off coming up in April so if he goes, that would be a chance to show that he can
Nolan Bushnell Is Not The Harvey Weinstein Of Video Games
Unless you’ve been living in the wilderness without any internet access for about a year then you have heard about the “MeToo” movement that has rocked Hollywood in scandals over the improper use of a powerful position to get sexual favors in exchange for better acting jobs. Said movement has had it’s share of champions and critics but when trying to apply the same concepts to the arcade/video game industry, this one was way off the mark.
With Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell, like Billy Mitchell he has his fans and his detractors. His contributions to the video game and arcade business are well-known so we don’t need to recap that.
Recently, the Game Developers Conference announced that it would be awarding Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell with a Pioneer award. This launched a “#NotNolan” hashtag campaign by Brianna Wu who alleged that because of the “MeToo” movement and certain stories surrounding the management of Atari in the 1970s, that it would be “wildly inappropriate” to give Bushnell such an award.
The Verge and Kotaku both ran articles carrying that same set of proxy accusations from Wu, the principle of which hinges on brief and somewhat vague descriptions of “hot tub board meetings” that are said to have taken place at Atari around 45 years ago. No one is condoning such meetings but by the descriptions there are many questions up in the air about them. Mainly was anyone threatened that they would lose their job if they didn’t participate? Who was “Ms. so and so”? Did she consent? If not, was she threatened or fired? Did she ever file a complaint? etc. etc. Without any first-hand accounts of a woman or women making such a claim, it leaves it as an apple to the orange of the situation surrounding Harvey Weinstein, who is the focus of criminal investigations for everything from harassment to rape (over a much longer period of time with dozens upon dozens of named accusers who have filed legal action against him).
What really bugs me about how this whole situation has shaken out so far, is that when you read those articles, notice that neither site nor the GDC bothered to reach out to women who worked at Atari to get their side of it. Why wouldn’t you do that, especially when there is no first-hand accuser? Are the women who worked there with Bushnell not capable of providing a fair and accurate assessment of the events that they were present for?
It’s not so much about the award here – a man’s reputation is being smeared which can jeopardize his current (he’s a co-founder and is on the board of Modal VR) and potential future business dealings – something that matters to the livelihood of him and his family. In doing a current internet search of his name, the accusations are all that are getting attention, not any defense. No, we’re not in a court setting here but basic legal concepts such as presumption of innocence and the right to defend yourself against accusers still matters.
Fortunately Historian Curt Vendel noticed this and took action on his Facebook group Atari Museum to ask for comments from any women who did work at Atari during the Nolan days. It’s a closed group so you would only be able to see it if you are a member so I’ll share some of what is there.
Elaine Shirley was the first woman to comment on this as she provided a statement to Replay Magazine. Elaine joined the company in 1973 and stayed on at the coin-op division until 1999. She currently works at GlobalVR where she has been for many years.
Those were the times. He [Nolan Bushnell] hit on women and they hit on him. If the #MeToo movement was active when Atari was alive, I think half our company would be charged. To my knowledge, no one ever did anything they did not want to do.“In truth,” Shirley continued, “I think there were at least the same or more aggressive women at the company. I am not condoning any inappropriate violations related to the #MeToo movement, but I think the movement needs to relate to the era in which the ‘violation’ occurred. However, there are some lines that can never be crossed (especially with children or sexual assaults) no matter what era it was.”She continued that there was a time when two salesmen in the industry complemented her at a trade show, saying she had the “best legs in the industry.”“That would not be acceptable now, but it did not bother me,” she said. “They should give Nolan the award,” she concluded.
in this regard pertaining to Nolan – there is ZERO sexual assault or abuse – and the alleged journalist did not do their due diligence.
Using the ‘MeToo’ movement and a moment in time for which she [Wu] had no firsthand knowledge…………
And with zero complaints lodged against Nolan or complaints about the work culture by employees working at Atari during that time………..
And based on archival newspaper and magazine interviews with Nolan and others chatting about a work environment, time and culture that existed 40 years ago………
A work environment everyone – men and women – happily worked in TOGETHER… and partied in TOGETHER (or didn’t party in – there was no pressure and no judgement)…. an environment that has resulted in decades-long friendships, marriages, ‘little Atarians,’ business partnerships and frequent reunions……… providing us with amazing memories, and for most of us, spending the rest of our work careers attempting to replicate the MAGIC of the Camelot that we were lucky enough to work at.
By arming herself with a topical movement and being personally disgruntled and ‘offended’ by an environment existing 40 years ago which she played no part in – an environment she had ZERO first hand knowledge of………. and ‘intimating’ those of us who worked with or around Nolan, Al (Alcorn), the Gene’s (Lipkin and Landrum), Joe (Keenan), Steve (Bristow) and the rest of ‘Mahogany Row’ had been sexually assaulted, abused and disrespected by (in her estimation) abominations to the male species…….
Yes, based on her political aspirations, personal assumptions and libelous accusations against a man where no complaints have been raised or filed – she made a big, unfounded noise against Nolan – and the ‘Pioneer Award’ honor was withdrawn.
Atari was a large corporation with many facilities… but I worked in Corporate Headquarters, interfaced with every department in the company as a part of Communications, Security and Facilities groups……. and in being ‘adopted’ by the Coin-op and Industrial Design groups, I also spent a great deal of time in the Engineering (‘hot tub’) building, which would be the two locations where most of the fun and craziness occurred.
From my vantage point and having a first-person perspective of this time and the Atari environment, what has been done to Nolan is falsely mischaracterizing him for a lifestyle that did no harm or wrong to anyone.
Nolan created a company environment which opened the doors to many women into a field where they were never included before: HI TECH. Nolan never discriminated on any level and gave everyone a chance to prove on their own merits that they could be a part of Atari. From soldering boards to building arcade cabinets, drawing schematics and artwork to working on the assembly line.
For me personally, Nolan was the final word in my being hired at Atari – my first full-time job after college… he continued his belief in me years later, when we cofounded uWink in Los Angeles where I became an ‘equally compensated’ Vice President.
Nolan never profiled a person by their gender as to whether or not they were a fit for the job. He based his decision on the person’s skill, ability and passion for the job – because of that belief, we always rose to the occasion! We were a bonded teamship… AND A FAMILY.
Atari also saw a woman – the amazing Carol Shaw – go on to fame! [Carol Shaw is best know for River Raid, which she did while at Activison – Ed.]
For me, and I’m sure for other women who will weigh in……. while this ‘feminazi congresswoman wanna-be’ may believe she is doing ‘Atari womankind’ a favor, in reality, she has done us a disservice by creating victims where there were none.
Personally, I am extremely angered by her words and conduct in this matter… not just for Nolan, but for the women of Atari – all of us!
We ALL were, and remain to this day extremely strong and intelligent women…… and there isn’t any ‘man’ who would dare take advantage of us (not if they intended to procreate in the future!).
My other anger is the callous and unnecessary hurt I’m sure this matter has inflicted on Nancy and their kids and grandkids.
Finally… by not doing their due diligence before terminating the honor, the GDC did a disservice to Nolan, to my fellow Atarians – and to the truth.
Nolan was extremely gracious in this matter via his tweet… Hopefully the GDC will right this misstep on their part at some point in the future.
The post Newsbytes: Billy Mitchell & Nolan Bushnell Controversies appeared first on Arcade Heroes.
Apple servers briefly enabled signing of older iOS firmwares, allowing users to downgrade to earlier versions
ching chong servers ping pow wang wong china
Apple's servers started to sign older versions of iOS for a number of hours on Wednesday night, an issue that gave iPhone and iPad owners a brief opportunity to downgrade iOS to an earlier release, with some hardware found to be downgradable to iOS 6.
that mike kim sure is sneaky too bad he got caught!
this makes me mad
Nobody likes it when a bird poops on their car. But the residents of a wealthy neighborhood in Bristol, England seem to have taken this dislike to another level. They’ve installed anti-bird spikes on local trees. Humans really are the worst.
Chinese Woman Gets Refund From Apple After Colleague Unlocks iPhone X With Face ID
The USP of Apple’s 10th anniversary premium smartphone, iPhone X is the Face ID technology used in the device that provides high security and cannot be tricked, according to the tech giant.
However, this Face ID technology failed when a colleague of a Chinese woman from Nanjing could unlock not one but two of her iPhone X handsets, reported the South China Morning Post.
The woman identified only by her surname Yan, from Nanjing, China told the Jiangsu Broadcasting Corporation that her co-worker was able to unlock both her iPhone X – original as well as the new one Apple gave her as a replacement – on every single attempt.
The first time it happened, Yan called the Apple hotline but the support team apparently refused to believe her. In order to demonstrate the facial recognition problem, Yan went to the nearest Apple Store along with her colleague to show the staff what happened.
Apple staff at the store said the camera might be faulty and gave Yan a refund, which she used to buy a new iPhone X, reported the South China Morning Post. However, she faced the same problem with the replaced iPhone X prompting the store to offer a second refund, said the report.
It’s still not clear whether Yan has bought a third iPhone X with the refund money. Apple has yet to comment on the issue.
Security researchers have discovered a new, invasive OSX.Pirrit adware variant targeting Mac OS X that enables cyber-criminals to take full control of a user's Mac computer.
Security researchers have discovered a new, invasive OSX.Pirrit adware variant targeting Mac OS X that enables cyber-criminals to take full control of a user's Mac computer.
The malware has already infected thousands of Mac computers around the world. According to a blog post by Amit Serper, principal security researcher at Cybereason, while usual adware campaigns enable the attackers to flood a person's computer with ads, this malware not only bombards Macs with adware, it spies on users and runs with the highest user privileges, enabling hackers to leverage this adware to capture personal information on the users, including bank account logins and intellectual property of businesses.
“To my surprise, it's very active. Not only is it still infecting people's Macs, OSX.Pirrit's authors learned from one of their mistakes (They obviously read at least one of our earlier reports),” said Serper.
He added that unlike old versions of OSX.Pirrit that used rogue browser plug-ins or even installed a proxy server on the victim's machine to hijack the browser, this incarnation uses AppleScript, Apple's scripting/automation language.
“And, like its predecessors, this variant is nasty. In addition to bombarding people with ads, it spies on them and runs under root privileges,” he said.
“There is no difference between traditional malware that steals data from its victims and adware that spies on people's Web browsing and target them with ads, especially when those ads are for either fake antivirus programs or Apple support scams,” he said.
“As for OSX.Pirrit malware, it runs under root privileges, creates autoruns and generates random names for itself on each install. Plus, there are no removal instructions and some of its components mask themselves to appear like they're legitimate and from Apple.”
He said that a company called TargetingEdge created OSX.Pirrit and his research hasn't gone unnoticed by it.
“Cybereason has received a few cease and desist letters from a firm claiming to be TargetingEdge's legal counsel. The letters demand that we stop referring to TargetingEdge's software as malware and refrain from publishing this report,” he said.
Serper said around 28 other antivirus engines on Virus Total also classify it as such. “The authors of this software went through great lengths to mask themselves and distance themselves from it,” he added. TargetingEdge claimed that it develops and operates a “legitimate and legal installer product for MAC users,” and is not malware and doesn't include any features of malware.
Kelvin Murray, threat research analyst at Webroot, told SC Media UK that users need to report any changes to the search or browser settings of their device to the admin. Users need to be aware that these changes can just be one visible part of a much bigger problem. He adds, “In addition, admins need to take the usual security measures including software updates, AV, and user education. Both the admin and users need to see this as yet another sign that Macs are not “virus proof” as is so commonly assumed and often ignored. There is a need of a stronger focus put onto OSX as security vulnerabilities are becoming more apparent, especially taking into account the event of the MacOS High Sierra.”
Since 2000, Pantone has been selecting a color of the year, summing up cultural touchstones in a single shade. For 2018, the color authority has decided upon Pantone 18-3838, better known as Ultra Violet.
Explaining that the complex color reflects our convoluted culture, the company took note of Ultra Violet's contrastingly provocative and introspective implications. Members of the Pantone Color Institute met to discuss everything ranging from food and fashion to politics and technological advancements. The color experts at the gathering noted purple's appearance in 20th century activist movements, '60s counterculture, recent runway shows and the Geneva Auto Show. With Prince receiving a tributary shade after his passing, it was decided that purple was entirely of the moment.
Although Pantone insists that its selection isn't made to impact fashion, trends or tastes, the company is offering a formula guide on its website to best elucidate how to utilize Ultra Violent in forthcoming designs. For more year-end awards, check out TIME's Person of the Year and GQ's Citizen of the Year
On October 29th, 2017, we found ourselves along the South Shore once again to chase assigned freight train three during its last week of operation. AF3, which interchanged with CSX at East Chicago at the time, was being abolished due to corporate changes at CSX. This job had been operating since the early 2000s, running over the CSX Garrett Subdivision mainline from the Miller Connection to East Chicago’s Peiguss Yard, providing railfans a unique opportunity to see the South Shore running at 60MPH over the former B&O mainline. After November 3rd, 2017, the South Shore would no longer utilize the Garrett Subdivision to interchange with CSX, but rather interchange with the Belt Railway of Chicago instead for all in-and-outbound traffic between the two railroads. Here, at Michigan City, Indiana, the train rolls down 11th Street after interchanging with CSX.
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Who’s a bad little fluffums? Bad kitty! Look what you’ve done, Snufferlumpapaws. Look at this big mess you made! You briefly yellow-flagged the season finale of the world’s highest rung of endurance sports car racing. Bad, kitty, bad! Bad! Bad!
Cat Cosplay is a tumblr dedicated to cosplay for cats. Yes, there is apparently a very active community that likes to create the most crazy costumes, transforming the majestic felines into characters from pop culture, from Star Trek to Harry Potter via Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Pokemon and so on. Welcome to the world of cosplay for cats!
It goes without saying that Atari released the majority of the true classics during the Golden Era of arcade gaming. Hit after hit was created, manufactured and released.
But it wasn’t easy. The challenge they faced was constantly having to come up with new concepts and ideas. If there was a flaw in their business model, it was that Atari were only as good as their last release. Unable to rest on their laurels when a big hit like Centipede was released, the pressure was constantly on to find what the next hit game was going to be, and to bet heavily on it by investing in marketing and production.
And despite their best efforts, the success of a game was not an exact science. Whatever the opinion of a new title was within the corridors of Atari, its viability once released, was ultimately determined by the reception it received by operators, and then on the arcade floor. Take Gravitar as an example – so sparse were initial sales, that already produced cabinet shells complete with Gravitar artwork, were hastily converted to other games on the production line before being pushed out to market. More on Gravitar later…
Although Atari had many years’ experience in its favour, not to mention the biggest brand and some of the best programmers in the business, there was still a knife-edge element to the journey from idea to arcade.
Atari was now big business, and with that came internal politics. Atari’s owner, Warner Communications, was always pushing for new product, incoming revenue and of course profit – this was what drove their stock price. Perhaps being detached from the day-to-day running of Atari’s Coin-Operated Division, they would likely not appreciate some of the nuances involved in the developement of new arcade games. But with one eye on the books, Warner Communications were hard taskmasters, and demanded a constant stream of quality releases from the Sunnyvale factory. They had paid good money for Atari, and wanted the cash-cow milked for every cent possible.
Demanding a game within a certain time period would have been unrealistic – there may not be a game close to being finished; a programmer could only work so hard, and a rushed game might ultimately lose money if released without due care and attention. Scheduling releases vs the quality of those games would have been a huge headache for Atari’s management. Especially when dealing with Atari’s programmers, who had a healthy cynicism for the men in suits who ran the numbers of Atari’s business. I get the impression that making demands on Atari’s in-house engineers, programmers and project leaders would have been met with short shrift. They loved what they did, and didn’t really care about balance sheets or the pressures of corporate America’s boardrooms.
Eyeing the recent success of Nintendo’s Donkey Kong and Nichibutsu’s Crazy Climber, Atari wanted to ride on this new platformer genre bandwagon, that was seeing considerable success in the North American market. Not seeing anything resembling a platform game in development in-house, a decision was made, presumably by the Sales & Marketing team, to find a platformer already developed by another company. That game turned out to be Kangaroo.
Atari’s Kanagroo is an unusual release in that it was one of the few titles released under their name, but not developed by Atari themselves.
The game puts the player at the controls of a mother kangaroo, who must climb ladders and platforms to rescue her joey son at the top of the screen. Along the way, monkeys and other enemies will throw bananas and other crap in an effort to scupper progress. It is regarded as a classic, due largely to the magnificent looking cabinet the game was housed in, but I personally think the game is awful – I’d say the present-day community is split equally about Kangaroo – there are some who do love the game.
The licensing of arcade games was commonplace at this time – manufacturer Centuri made a business out of it, and released some of the best known titles of the era: Track n Field, Phoenix, Eagle, Circus Charlie, were all licensed games from other companies, usually Japanese companies with no presence in the US market. The manufacturer paid a fee to the creator of the game, which would secure them the rights to release that game in agreed markets.
Kangaroo was developed by little known Japanese developer Sun Electronics. Seeing the game as an opportunity to acquire an arcade platformer without the costs (or time involved) of development, Atari negotiated a licence in the spring of 1982.
On paper of course, it was a win-win. With no distribution logistics in the West (now a huge video game market) Sun Electronics could monetize their title by selling the game to Atari for cold hard cash – who in turn acquired a much-needed new title that they could drop into empty arcade cabinets and sell exclusively.
The suits at Atari were pleased. This arrangement made perfect sense. The game was put out to field test for a week and received broadly positive feedback from players. This was good enough for the company under pressure to keep selling games. No sooner had the ink dried on the contracts, arrangements were made for production and marketing to begin.
This video was quickly produced to attract sales from operators and distributors:
When you want a pouch full of profits, stick with the leader; ATARI!
But of course, the release wouldn’t involve any of the programmers or designers employed within the coin-op division.
Things were about to kick off.
The Engineers of Atari were of course working on other games. Games they thought were quality products, and rightly they expected the support of Atari management when it came to shuffling these games along the development journey and out for production. For some, seeing Kangaroo arrive with some fanfare, get marketing backing based on minimal field testing and seemingly elbowing other in-house games out-of-the-way was just too much.
One of these people was Rich Adam. Rich was working on a game called Lunar Battle (later renamed Gravitar of course), at the time when Kangaroo arrived in the USA. To Rich’s bemusement, Lunar Battle was removed from a field test to make way for two potential licensed games to take its place, after just two weeks. So aggrieved was he about what he saw going on, he decided to write a memo titled:
Why am I working so hard to make a quality product?
Dated 4th May 1982, he sent it to the top brass within Atari; to 7 people in total, including Frank Ballouz, Vice President of Marketing, and the heads of Coin-Op Engineering.
Rich got straight to the point in his opening paragraph:
There is an epidemic raging through the Coin-Op Marketing and Engineering Management staff. The disease is called License Fever. It destroys the brain cells of its victims, crippling their thought processes. These poor souls can no longer distinguish between a product that is junk and one that has the quality the public identifies with Atari.
He went on:
How could a healthy, logical person make a decision to build a game of the caliber of Kangaroo based on one weeks collections report? Such a decision must be the result of a severe cranial dysfunction.
The impact of Kangaroo to Coin-Cops reputation is discouraging to think about. More serious however, is the impact n Engineering. The product teams that develop games here, work extremely hard. For these individuals to have to compete with trash games like Kangaroo……for engineering support creates a very real morale problem.
So Adam decided to go there. He wrote down in black and white what effect the bulldozing through a new game developed outside of Atari was having on staff, struggling to get their games developed – and, sent the memo to senior members of staff.
His anger was palpable:
The mere consideration of these half-done games is confusing to engineers who are used to much higher standards. Result: even lower morale.
Cleary having discovered the new game’s arrival at Atari’s offices, and playing it, Rich couldn’t believe what he was seeing. This sluggish game with graphics that clashed in places, the license made no sense to him at all. To have his product pushed to one side, so that Kangaroo would be rushed out was incomprehensible.
Rich drops the mic with his signoff:
The point here is this: in light of all the priority which is being given to these inferior games, I must ask myself “why am I working so hard to make a quality product?”
The note is a fascinating insight into what Atari had become – essentially a “them and us” culture – there was clearly some resentment within the building, and this would have come with Atari becoming bigger and bigger, and accountability being spread more thinly across the organisation, resulting in those who built the business feeling they had less of a say to its ongoing future strategy. As is typical of large corporate environments, people felt less accountable and unheard.
And Rich makes a great point in his memo – how can it make sense for Atari for buy in a new game rather than craft its own from scratch – a tried and tested formula that had worked so well for them since the mid-70s? It felt like corner cutting, at the cost of an inferior product.
It didn’t end there either. Sun Electronics also sold the license to its Arabian arcade title a few months later. But it’s worth pointing out that not all games that Atari decided to licence around this time were as poor in gameplay terms as Kangaroo. Namco’s Dig Dug and Pole Position spring to mind. Both were big hits respectively.
But despite all the venom directed at Kangaroo and what it represented internally at Atari, it was actually a success. Over 9,803 cabinets were produced and sold (and ironically compare this to the number of Rich Adam’s game Gravitar that were eventually produced – just 5,427). Kangaroo was even syndicated as a Saturday morning kids cartoon on US TV networks in 1982! Not bad for a title regarded as “half-done” by Rich Adams himself, and as “awful” by the idiot penning this article. Maybe Rich and I were wrong? There’s no accounting for taste I suppose.
So, Atari Kangaroo. Check it out on MAME if you can and see what you think. It’s a quirky game for sure, if for no other reason than it caused quite a stir internally at Atari.
For a more in-depth look at Kangaroo‘s cabinet and gameplay, check out this excellent video.
Thanks for reading this week.
Thanks to Dan Coogan and his excellent Gravitar website. His published Atari documentation about Gravitar (and Rich’s memo specifically) formed the basis of this article.
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I remembered a funny old commercial to show my 11 year old kid, then turned to dust and blew away when I saw what the ad was for.
amazing how far these nerds went to re-create an arcade
Well over a year ago, I wrote about Nintendo’s Sky Skipper arcade game, after UK collector Alex Crowley found an original PCB game board during an arcade raid. If you’re new to this topic, do take 5 minutes to familiarise yourself with the story up to that point here.
In short: Alex discovered a Nintendo PCB in a warehouse that was clearly marked as a Sky Skipper arcade game. It had been factory converted to Popeye. Very few of these boards exist, and he was able to get the PCB reverse-engineered, back to play the unreleased Sky Skipper game.
A great deal has happened since the board was found. Once Alex had the board in his hands and fully working, together with fellow collector Olly Cotton, he started piecing together the cabinet artwork, by studying the handful of flyers and pictures they were able to track down. The ultimate plan was to recreate the cabinet true to the original design. Together with his US-based counterpart, Whitney Roberts, the plan was to reveal the cabinet both in the USA and the UK. But there were issues as Whitney explains:
When I initially signed onto the project with Alex and Olly, we truly only had a color flyer and a lot of enthusiasm as our main ingredients to restoring the cabinets. Olly had done a tremendous amount of work with the artwork available at the time, and we felt we could piece together some of the missing details to flesh out a passing example of what we thought Sky Skipper would have looked like. The fact remained, however, that despite our best efforts, we were shy any real details that would allow us to finish this project with any semblance of historical accuracy.
After much research, Whitney got a lead from none other than Billy Mitchell (he of King of Kong fame and the first person officially recognised to have scored a perfect game of Pac-Man). Amazingly, it turned out that Bill remembered playing the game at Nintendo of America back in the day, during a promotional visit of some sort. Bill asked Whitney for some time, and promised to pull some strings. Whitney couldn’t believe his luck:
Right then I knew we had hit pay dirt. Not only had Billy seen the game, he had played on it and confirmed what we had previously could only assume to be true. With just one sentence, the project leaped forward significantly. We had confirmed the game actually existed in a playable form at some point in the past AND it had sat on American soil.
This was quite the coup. Whitney knew that he had to get into Nintendo of America (something very few people outside of the company manage to do) and see the machine for himself. But what were the chances of NOA opening their doors and letting him see and scan the artwork? Well it turned out that the odds were in fact pretty good. With Billy’s help, Whitney got a personal invite from the head of Nintendo’s archives to come into the campus, and spend two hours with the only Sky Skipper cabinet known to exist anywhere in the world.
On arrival at NOA, Whitney was escorted to a room:
I was never left unsupervised – which is actually good. I didn’t want something to happen and I then be found liable due to circumstance. So I made sure she was OK with me taking 60-90 minutes to scan the cabinet artwork and document it to the best of my ability and she said “It’s all yours”.
She swung open the door, flicked on the light switch and there it was….
Sky Skipper serial number 0001 had been saved and stored by Nintendo. The condition was remarkably good considering its age. Apart from some fading to the artwork, and damage to the white t-molding, everything was complete. Scarcely able to contain his excitement, Whitney set to work. Working methodically around the cabinet he used a portable scanner to scan every inch of artwork. The marquee, the side art, the control panel and bezel.
What I find amazing, is that NOA were happy to support the project – they were fully aware as to what the guys intended to do and gave them their blessing to go ahead and reproduce this artwork for their big reveal on both sides of the Atlantic. For a company renowned for its secrecy and staunch protection of its Intellectual Properties, this was a huge gesture of good faith.
After several hours’ at the facility, Whitney scurried away from NOA armed with his precious scans and hundreds of pictures of the cabinet. These files were shared with Olly, and he was able to fully recreate the artwork after many hours of work. This was no mean feat, as much of the original art had faded over time. But after getting arcade art company This Old Game on board to produce the final artwork, the team was now ready to reveal the cabinets to the world.
The first reveal was at the Southern Fried Game Expo in June 2017 – Alex flew over to be a part of the proceedings, and for the first time, the wider American public was able to clap eyes on what the Sky Skipper project had been up to!
Here’s a video of the proceedings in America if you want to watch the whole thing.
But next up, it was the turn of the UK. After much thought, it was decided that the cabinet would be unveiled at Arcade Club in Bury. Whitney flew over with his family and had none other than John from John’s Arcade in tow for the ride (yeah yeah hey guys! we are in the basement, etc, etc). Anyway…
It was now Alex’s turn to get his hands dirty, and restore a rather shabby looking Nintendo Donkey Kong cabinet that had been badly converted to a Vs cabinet. Armed with his tools and the newly produced art kit send across the Atlantic from Rich at This Old Game, he got to work:
After many hours of stress, restoring the cabinet to as-new condition, applying the side art, bezel, control panel and marquee, re-wiring the cab and soak testing, Alex was finally ready. With Arcade Club chosen to host the big reveal – it’s an intimate environment – it was felt that the people there would really appreciate seeing the cab for the first time. Andy, Arcade Club’s owner, put on a great event for us, and all tickets were sold out.
So on Saturday 14th October at Arcade Club, a great turnout from the UK collector community got to see for the first time, the recreated Sky Skipper cabinet in all its glory:
The guys did a great job on stage, sharing the whole story with the crowd and detailing some of the challenges they had along the way. In fact the event was way more than just about the reveal – the UK community got together and we had a great weekend, playing games and catching up with friends both old and new:
So there you have it – Sky Skipper has been resurrected. It’s a quirky, typically Japanese game, but after a few plays, you realise there’s a great deal of depth to it. I really enjoyed the couple of games I managed on the cab, and have fired a few games up since on my MAME cabinet – I’m definitely a fan.
So what of the future? Whitney and Alex are acutely aware that Nintendo has put a great deal of trust in them, in allowing them to do what they’ve done, so any discussions about releasing some sort of kit for the public were played down. Nothing along those lines will be considered without the express permission of Nintendo – but watch this space, who knows.
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to everyone involved in getting Sky Skipper back out to the public. This was a fantastic journey from start to finish, and Alex, Whitney, Olly, Bill, Rich and of course Nintendo of America all deserve medals for pulling off what seemed like just a pipe dream at the moment Alex discovered the original board a couple of years ago. The final result is nothing short of spectacular:
Great work gentlemen. This is another perfect example of two collectors wanting to preserve history and share rare games with the rest of the world rather than just tryin to make a quick buck. (I know Alex well, and his constant dedication to the hobby is an example to us all – thank you mate for sharing this with us).
Video was shot at the event, more of which I’m sure will appear in the coming days. Here’s an early one if you want to see what the atmosphere was like.
To read more about the project, head over to the excellent Sky Skipper website where you can find much more detail about Whitney’s visit to NOA and the subsequent reveal events. And of course, do subscribe to Alex’s fantastic YouTube channel where he shares a huge amount of great content related to Nintendo’s arcade and console output over the years.
A final quick plug for the artwork guys involved in this project. Rich over at This Old Game produces very high quality artwork (and ships worldwide), and UK collectors can get hold of many difficult-to-find pieces of artwork from Olly’s store Arcade Art Shop. I’ve used both many times over the years, and can recommend their work highly.
Thanks for visiting this week – do share this article using the social media buttons below!
See you next time
I’ve borrowed various pictures for this article – Alex, Whitney, Chris cNp – thank you!
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