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1 Castle of the Winds: A Question of Vengeance
2 Descent
3 Flight of the Amazon Queen
4 Warzone 2100
5 Subspace - Continuum
6 One Must Fall 2097
7 It Came from the Desert II: Antheads
8 The Ur-Quan Masters (Star Control 2)
9 Wild Metal Country
10 Marathon 2

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Online Gaming News

The NES Classic Outsold the PS4, Xbox One, and Switch In June August 3 @ 3 AM

After returning to stores in June after a brief stint of sales back in 2016, the NES Classic is topping U.S. sales charts. Market research firm NPD reports that the NES Classic was June's highest unit-selling hardware platform in the U.S., beating the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. "The NES Classic managed to outsell these consoles despite only being on sale for a few days in late June," reports The Verge. From the report: While the NES Classic is priced at $59 compared to more expensive current-generation consoles, it's clearly still in demand 35 years after the original Nintendo Entertainment System debuted in 1983. The NES Classic comes loaded with 30 games including classics like Super Mario Bros., Metroid, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, and Pac-Man. While you can't insert vintage NES cartridges into it, the console supports game saves and connects to TVs via a HDMI cable. Nintendo hasn't revealed whether it now plans to introduce more miniature retro consoles.

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Nintendo To ROM Sites: Forget Cease-and-Desist, Now We're Suing July 23 @ 9 PM

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Nintendo's attitude toward ROM releases -- either original games' files or fan-made edits -- has often erred on the side of litigiousness. But in most cases, the game producer has settled on cease-and-desist orders or DMCA claims to protect its IP. This week saw the company grow bolder with its legal action, as Nintendo of America filed a lawsuit (PDF) on Thursday seeking millions in damages over classic games' files being served via websites. The Arizona suit, as reported by TorrentFreak, alleges "brazen and mass-scale infringement of Nintendo's intellectual property rights" by the sites LoveROMs and LoveRetro. These sites combine ROM downloads and in-browser emulators to deliver one-stop gaming access, and the lawsuit includes screenshots and interface explanations to demonstrate exactly how the sites' users can gain access to "thousands of [Nintendo] video games, related copyrighted works, and images." The biggest amount of money Nintendo is seeking comes from "$150,000 for the infringement of each Nintendo copyrighted work and up to $2,000,000 for the infringement of each Nintendo trademark." The company has also requested full disclosure of the operators' "receipts and disbursements, profit and loss statements, advertising revenue, donations and cryptocurrency revenue, and other financial materials." LoveROMs has since removed all Nintendo-affiliated links, including ROMs and emulators, and the site announced on its social media channels that "all Nintendo titles have been removed from our site." Meanwhile, LoveRetro.co now redirects visitors to a page that reads: "Loveretro has effectively been shut down until further notice."

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Atari Launches Linux Gaming Box Starting at $199 June 2 @ 4 PM

An anonymous reader quotes Linux.com: Attempts to establish Linux as a gaming platform have failed time and time again, with Valve's SteamOS being the latest high-profile casualty. Yet, Linux has emerged as a significant platform in the much smaller niche of retro gaming, especially on the Raspberry Pi. Atari has now re-emerged from the fog of gaming history with an Ubuntu-based Atari VCS gaming and media streaming console aimed at retro gamers. In addition to games, the Atari VCS will also offer Internet access and optional voice control. With a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, the system can be used as a standard Linux computer. The catch is that the already delayed systems won't ship until July 2019... By the launch date, Atari plans to have "new and exclusive" games for download or streaming, including "reimagined classic titles from Atari and other top developers," as well as multi-player games. The Atari VCS Store will also offer video, music and other content... The hardware is not open source, and the games will be protected with HDCP. However, the Ubuntu Linux stack based on Linux kernel 4.10 is open source, and includes a "customizable Linux UX." A Linux "sandbox" will be available for developing or porting games and apps. Developers can build games using any Linux compatible gaming engine, including Unity, Unreal Engine, and Gamemaker. Atari also says that "Linux-based games from Steam and other platforms that meet Atari VCS hardware specifications should work." Atari boasts this will be their first device offering online multi-player experiences, and the device will also come pre-loaded with over 100 classic Atari games. An Indiegogo campaign this week seeking $100,000 in pre-orders has already raised over $2.2 million from 8808 backers.

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Atari Co-Founder Ted Dabney Dies at Age 81 May 27 @ 4 AM

An anonymous reader quotes Eurogamer: Atari co-founder Ted Dabney has died, according to a close friend. Historian Leonard Herman, who told Dabney's story in an article for Edge magazine published in 2009, announced Dabney's death in a post on Facebook... Dabney, who was born in San Francisco in 1937, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in late 2017, and, according to friends, decided against treatment after being told he had eight months to live. In 1971 Dabney co-founded Atari predecessor Syzygy with Nolan Bushnell and developed Computer Space, the world's first commercially available arcade video game. In 1972 the pair co-founded Atari, and Computer Space was used for the basis of Pong, the video game that made the company its early-days millions. Dabney later left the company after a falling out with Bushnell. "Nolan was not being the kind of person that I enjoyed being around any more..." Dabney remembered in a 2012 interview with the Computer History Museum. He added with a laugh that "Nolan had told me that if I didn't sell out he would transfer all the assets to another corporation and leave me with nothing anyway. So, you know, might as well sell out." After the falling out Dabney still helped Bushnell launch Pizza Time Theater (the predecessor of Chuck E. Cheese's), later working at major tech companies like Raytheon, Fujitsu, and Teledyne, before finally buying a grocery store in California's Sierra mountains (where "my wife did all the work"). He eventually retired to northern Washington at the age of 69. "Ted Dabney was an integral part of the early video game industry, and he literally assembled some of the hardware from which this industry was built with his own two hands," remembers Kotaku, adding "Not many people can lay claim to that kind of legacy." Share your own favorite memories of Atari and Ted Dabney in the comments.

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Final Fantasy 7, Tomb Raider Headline Inductees To World Video Game Hall of Fame May 3 @ 8 PM

Dave Knott writes: The 2018 World Video Game Hall of Fame inductees have been announced. The Hall Of Fame "recognizes individual electronic games of all types — arcade, console, computer, handheld, and mobile -- that have enjoyed popularity over a sustained period and have exerted influence on the video game industry or on popular culture and society in general." The 2018 inductees are: Final Fantasy 7, John Madden Football, Spacewar!, and the first Tomb Raider.

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Google Is Building a Secret Social-Gaming Startup Called Arcade May 3 @ 12 AM

Google is secretly building a social-gaming startup in an effort to create fledgling companies within the internet-search giant. Bloomberg reports: The founder and co-owner of the new firm, called Arcade, is Michael Sayman, according to people familiar with the matter. Sayman is the 21-year-old wunderkind who started as a Facebook intern at age 17 and left that company for Alphabet Inc.'s Google last year. Arcade's first app, slated to debut this summer, will have some elements of a trivia game. A Google spokesperson confirmed the existence of Arcade, saying it was "focused on mobile gaming with friends," without elaborating on specific products. "It's a very early experiment so there aren't many details to share right now." The effort is part of Area 120, a division where select employees can work on small startups that live inside Google. Arcade's games have no tie-in with existing social networks. Users create accounts with their phone numbers, one of the people said. Google is considering it a social-media investment because once a game gets to a certain size, it's something of a social network by itself, this person said.

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Guinness Strips Billy 'King of Kong' Mitchell's World Records April 13 @ 10 PM

In February, legendary arcade gamer Billy Mitchell was accused of cheating his way into the record books for high scores in Donkey Kong. As a result, he was stripped of his 1.062 million score on the Donkey Kong Forums. Today, Kotaku reports that "Guinness World Records will remove Billy Mitchell's Donkey Kong scores, as well as his records for Pac-Man, from their database following Mitchell's disqualification from the Twin Galaxies leaderboards yesterday." From the report: Mitchell is one of the world's most famous arcade game players, at one time holding world records in Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr, and Pac-Man. Yesterday, all of Mitchell's records were removed from the leaderboards at Twin Galaxies, an organization that tracks video game records and high scores. The decision came after a lengthy arbitration process determined that Mitchell used the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator (MAME) to achieve some record scores that had been said to be performed on arcade machines, a violation of Twin Galaxies' rules. In light of this, Guinness World Records will also remove his records. "The Guinness World Records titles relating to Mr. Mitchell's highest scores on Donkey Kong have all been disqualified due to Twin Galaxies being our source of verification for these achievements," a representative of Guinness told Kotaku via email. Mitchell did not return request for comment. Guinness continued, "We also recognize records for First perfect score on Pac-Man and Highest score on Pac-Man. Twin Galaxies was the original source of verification for these record titles and in line with their decision to remove all of Mr. Mitchell's records from their system, we have disqualified Mr. Mitchell as the holder of these two records. Guinness World Records will look to update and find the appropriate holder of these records in the next few days."

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How Hardware Artisans Are Keeping Classic Video Gaming Alive March 17 @ 9 PM

Slashdot reader harrymcc writes, "If you want to play classic Nintendo games, you could buy a vintage Super NES. Or you could use an emulator. Or -- if you're really serious -- you could use floating point gate arrays to design a new console that makes them look great on modern TVs." He shares Fast Company's article about "some of the other folks using new hardware to preserve the masterworks of the past." Analogue created its system with HDTVs in mind, so every game looks as good or maybe even better than I remember from childhood. Playing the same cartridges on my actual Super Nintendo is more like looking through a dirty window... Another company called RetroUSB has also used Field Programmable Gate Arrays to create its own version of the original Nintendo. And if you already own any classic systems like I do, there's a miniature industry of aftermarket hardware that will make those consoles look better on modern televisions. The article also notes "throwback consoles" from AtGames and Hyperkin, as well as the Open Source Scan Converter, "a crude-looking device that converts SCART input to HDMI output with no distinguishable lag from the game controller." Analogue's CEO Christopher Taber "argues that software emulation is inherently less accurate than re-creating systems at the hardware level," and describes Analogue engineer Kevin Horton as "someone who's obscenely talented at what he's doing... He's applying it to making perfect, faithful, aftermarket video game systems to preserve playing these systems in an unadulterated way." And in the end the article's author feels that Analogue's Super NT -- a reverse-engineered Super Nintendo -- "just feels more like the real thing. Unlike an emulator, the Super Nt doesn't let you save games from any point or switch to slow motion, and the only modern gameplay concession it offers is the ability to reset the game through a controller shortcut. Switching to a different game still requires you to get off the couch, retrieve another cartridge, and put it into the system, which feels kind of like listening to a vinyl album instead of a Spotify playlist."

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AI Cheats at Old Atari Games By Finding Unknown Bugs in the Code March 1 @ 5 PM

An anonymous reader shares a report: AI research and video games are a match made in heaven. Researchers get a ready-made virtual environment with predefined goals they can control completely, and the AI agent gets to romp around without doing any damage. Sometimes, though, they do break things. Case in point is a paper published this week by a trio of machine learning researchers from the University of Freiburg in Germany. They were exploring a particular method of teaching AI agents to navigate video games (in this case, desktop ports of old Atari titles from the 1980s) when they discovered something odd. The software they were testing discovered a bug in the port of the retro video game Q*bert that allowed it to rack up near infinite points. As the trio describe in the paper, published on pre-print server arXiv, the agent was learning how to play Q*bert when it discovered an "interesting solution." Normally, in Q*bert, players jump from cube to cube, with this action changing the platforms' colors. Change all the colors (and dispatch some enemies), and you're rewarded with points and sent to the next level. The AI found a better way, though: "First, it completes the first level and then starts to jump from platform to platform in what seems to be a random manner. For a reason unknown to us, the game does not advance to the second round but the platforms start to blink and the agent quickly gains a huge amount of points (close to 1 million for our episode time limit)."

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'King of Kong' Billy Mitchell Stripped Of Donkey Kong Record For Emulator Cheating February 3 @ 10 PM

MojoKid writes: More drama is unfolding in the ultra-competitive retro arcade gaming scene... Billy Mitchell, the arcade legend who appeared as a central character opposite Steve Wiebe in the documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, has been accused of cheating his way into the record books for high scores in Donkey Kong. As a result, he's now been stripped of his 1.062 million score on the Donkey Kong Forums... The legitimacy of his score was called into question by Donkey Kong high score judge Jeremy "Xelnia" Young laid out a body of evidence that seems to prove Mitchell recorded several of his high scores on the open source arcade emulator MAME, though he claimed his scores were obtained on an original arcade cabinet, and therefore were not subject to same strict authentication requirements. "It's possible they were recorded in one shot," Young says, but "Given the play style in Billy's videos, it's more likely that vanilla MAME's INP recording feature was abused." Twin Galaxies recently threw out the 35-year-old record for the Atari 2600 game Dragster, and has now said they're "in the process of fully reviewing the compelling evidence provided by Jeremy Young."

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