People trying to preserve digital artifacts held on old media often not only have to contend with the media themselves decaying, but also with obscure media formats for which there’s seemingly little chance of finding a working reader. [Kneesnap] had this problem with a tape containing the only known copy of all the assets for the game Frogger 2: Swampy’s Revenge, and the tale of how the data was recovered is a dive into both the shady side of the data recovery industry and some clever old-format hacking.
The tape was an Onstream cartridge, a short-lived format from a company whose first product hit the market at the end of the ’90s and who went bust in 2004. An old drive was found, but it proved to have a pinch roller melted with age, so in desperation the tape was sent to a data recovery company.
We admire the forbearance in not naming and shaming the data recovery company, because far from recovering the data they sent it back with the tape damaged and spliced — something you can do with an analogue tape but not a digital one without compromising the data. Then faced with an unrecoverable tape and a slightly different Onstream cartridge, how could anything be salvaged?
The answer came in overriding the drive’s sensors and initializing it with a known-good tape, then swapping out the tapes so that the drive, unaware anything had changed, could read whatever data it could find. In the event the vast majority of the archive was retrieved, making it a win for the preservation of that game.
This may be more involved than some recovery stories, but it’s not the first we’ve covered.
We feel sorry for youth of today. If you spend a few hours playing a modern video game and decide you want to write your own, there’s a big job ahead of you. Games now are as much performances as programs, with cinematic 3D renderings, polyphonic sound and music tracks, and detailed storylines. That wasn’t true 40 years ago, when you could play Pong and then think about writing your own version. The Raspberry Pi people must agree as they are taking preorders for a book called “Code the Classics.” In it, they interview designers of several classic arcade games and then show Python versions of the games you can run — and hack — yourself. You can see their video about the title, below.
The code is from Raspberry Pi founder [Eben Upton] and as you might expect the games aren’t necessarily faithful reproductions but inspired by the old arcade standards.
Continue reading “Code The Classics Is Coming” →
This arcade cabinet has been saved from a gruesome death. [Oldbitcollector] picked the broken rig up for $50 and is building a Parallax Propeller based arcade machine. This began back in October and he’s just dropped in a newly painted control panel to replace the NES controller seen above. He pulled the replacement screen out of an old 19″ TV and found it to be a perfect fit. We didn’t find a complete list of available games but we know he’s got a menu system to choose the game and have seen Donkey Kong, Frogger, Defender, and at least one other in the videos. There’s less choices than a MAME cabinet but who needs more than a handful of the old 8-bit gems anyway?
Continue reading “Propeller Arcade” →