Sometimes, 8-bit life can go through funny twists and turns. We thought hard about how we could end 2017 at 8-BitStuff.com on an uplifting note, and in the end the note came to us on its own.

Maybe you’ve heard of the fine Atari folks who not only invented the wonderful MultiJoy interface (which allows you to connect eight joysticks to a single 8-bit Atari) but–even more wonderful–keep it alive through an endless stream of new multiplayer party games and patches to old games to work with it. These people have now updated the design of MultiJoy so that it will work also with the Commodore 64.

This is very good news because MultiJoy is extremely easy to code for and at a time when new hardware projects are often fragmenting the scene further instead of uniting it, it will be nice to have a device that works across several platforms.

Just as with the old version of the device, its schematics will be freely available, so the more skilled 8-bit enthusiasts will be able to build a MultiJoy on their own. Talks are now being held about how to bring it to the less skilled of us. There seem to be doubts about how many people out there would be actually interested in buying MultiJoy. As far as we know, we’re talking about a price point of around EUR 30.- (which, incidentally, is the price of a Competiton PRO joystick at Individual Computers, so we think getting an adapter for 8 joys for your 8-bitter for the same money would be a good deal).

We’ll let you know when the schematics go online and if there’s a way to order the adapter. As we are publishing this news with an explicit permission of the designers, the best you can do to support making a batch of MultiJoys manufactured is leave a comment expressing your interest under this article.

We’re introducing a new section of our web: Average Stuff. Here’s how it came to be.

A while back, at a staff meeting (well, yeah, we’re an online project, but we’re based pretty much locally, the advantage of which is that we can convene in the flesh), I asked Akio Tenshi, “As a retro gaming site, knowing what’s ever been hot and what not, do we have any kind of right to review average games, or should we just focus on the best of the best?”

His reply was ingenious in its simplicity. “‘course we do. Actually, we have to!” he said.

“Why?”

“Because no one else is doing it. Plus, you could say that there are many average games that are great to someone. Take me, for example. I’ve never been into those huge, complex, endless games. RPGs? Turricans? Strategies? Text adventures? No, siree. Cookie, Jet Pac — those are my games. I grew up with those, and they’re the best!”

“Well, maybe, but you’re a freak of nature,” I thought. But then I remembered Jeep Command.

Jeep Command is a great game. In spite of its simple principles (it’s just an extremely well done clone of Moon Buggy with a few improvements) and simplistic graphics, its playability is polished to the last bit – the game teaches you how to play it and continuously makes you learn more and more tricks until you make it. It practically wants you to go through it, and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Yet, no one seemed to notice Jeep Command. It never left its home platform of Commodore 64, it wasn’t converted even to the Speccy, on which usually every good game appeared sooner or later. And today, it doesn’t even has its own page at Wikipedia. If you’re a game and Auntie Wiki doesn’t know you, it’s like you’ve never existed. So, even though Jeep Command is on my list of, say, top 100, or even top 50 C=64 games, maybe it’s not a tops game. Maybe it’s average. Well, yeah, probably it is.

But you know what? I bet there are other people like me: people who would find Jeep Command great, if they ever learned about its existence. Nowadays, even more people could appreciate Jeep Command, because we’re living in the blessed (and cursed, but that’s a topic for a philosophical and religious discussion) times of 8-bit emulation. It needs just one thing: spreading the word.

Average games won’t blow you away. They’re bad by no means, but they don’t stand out like the most famous games that everyone remembers do. No unforgettable graphics, no stellar music, no incredible technical feats. But we’re always happy to go back to them.

So we’re happy and proud to tell you that, among others, we’ll review truly average games.

 

Welcome to 8-Bit Stuff!

Welcome to 8-BitStuff.com, the home of the living 8-bitters!

This site is dedicated to 8-bit computers and the software (and occasionally hardware) around them. In case you’re wondering what 8-bit computers – or simply 8-bitters – are: they’re the microcomputers that were on the top of home entertainment popularity in the 1980s and early 1990s; all those Ataris, Commodores, (Sinclair) ZX Spectrums, and others.

“Ah, you mean retrocomputing,” you might say now. Well, we do, and we don’t. Retro, the way it is mostly used these days, often implies pure nostalgia. “Those were the days!” retro people say. “These are the days!” we say. For us, our 8-bit pets are still very much alive and kicking. New games are being programmed, new hardware is being developed, and talking to our friends, we find out every day that many people who would love to hear of that have no idea about it.

“So, what exactly are you going to cover here?” a person interested in 8-bit computing might ask now. Thank you very much – we love people who ask the right questions at the right time. Let’s face it; in spite of its whopping 3 MHz clock speed, you probably won’t use a Spectrum to calculate the first seven billion decimal places of pi, so we’ll focus on what the 8-bitters have always been most famous for: games.

We’ll be looking at 8-bit games from all kinds of angles. You can expect profile articles with funny trivia on well known games, game series, or game authors. We’ll write about games that are less known but all the more worth playing. And we’ll spice it all up with occasional interviews. We’ll also cover relevant hardware, like the easy to build Atari MultiJoy adapter that enables connecting up to 16 joysticks for multiplayer games on the Atari 8-bit.

And we’ll be looking at all kinds of games:

  • Old. Because those are the games that everyone remembers, the classics everyone loves to return to. Our first goal is to be the go-to place for a pleasant reading on the most pleasant games and for an inspiration for what to play on your 8-bitter (or in an emulator).
  • New. This is where we intend to add value to contemporary 8-bit journalism. There are several servers that publish news on 8-bit projects if they receive them. But we can’t shake the feeling that they take them just as a kind of fodder for the article pipeline. They don’t follow up. Too often it happens that you can see a news bit on a new game in the works, but when the actual release happens, it isn’t covered. 8-BitStuff.com will closely follow new game projects from the day we learn of them till the day they get released. So our second goal is not only to be the go-to place for news on new games but also a place for creators to see interest in their work and ask for help where needed, gamers to give the creators feedback, and fellow enthusiats offering help with overcoming obstacles in the development, thus helping with completion of more projects.

Enjoy the 8-bit stuff!

Akio Tenshi, Jason Wotnau