segunda-feira, 30 de março de 2015

500 Subs Special & Future of the Channel - It's a Pixel THING

Thank you guys for this 500 subs celebration video! It's been an awesome ride!

In this special episode of the Pixel THING I bring back some memories from the 80s and 90s and talk about what will be the future of the channel.

Thanks, once again for all the support and for subscribing to the Pixel THING.

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quinta-feira, 19 de março de 2015

Targa [2014/1995, Super Nintendo] Review - It's a Pixel THING - Ep.#43

Developed by Rainbow Arts and Published by Virgin Interactive, Rendering Ranger R2 was originally released only for Japanese players in November 1995 and exclusively for the Super Famicom.

Following the long running Turrican series, German developer Manfred Trenz kind of disappeared from the gaming industry. Fortunately he just stayed in the shadows developing, for almost 3 years, one of the greatest hidden gems ever released in video gaming history. This is how I see it! Rendering Ranger R2 is extremely rare and an amazing piece of programming!

Rare games tend to be bad, but that’s not the case with this title. Unfortunately for us, collectors and Super Nintendo fans, the game only sold a few thousand copies, 5000 to be more precise, and it’s really hard to get the hands on a single copy. And, obviously, prices aren’t appealing either, as we can see by this Japanese import on sale on ebay.

The game was originally named Targa and featured hand drawn graphics, but was later changed to pre-rendered graphics and renamed to Rendering Ranger R2. Sadly, the only company interested in publishing it was Virgin Interactive’s Japanese branch.

Somehow, last year, a prototype copy of Targa appeared on ebay and was grabbed by brothers Mark & Matt Nolan for five hundred and fifty six euros. These guys are well known by putting so much effort on preserving classic video game titles that would probably be lost in time.

So in last November, nineteen years after the original game was placed on store shelves in Japan, the Nolan Brothers released a limited and unaltered one hundred and fifty copies of Targa for about 100 dollars each, outside US, and promised that, once all copies were sold, the ROM would be available for download for everyone to enjoy. And so they did!

Highly inspired by Turrican and R-Type, Targa is a mix of side-scrolling run’n’gun action and shmup and I believe that “Super Turrican 3” would be a more suitable name for this game and would have probably opened the eyes to a bunch of publishers.

There’s no fancy story behind Targa’s main character. There’s no damsel in distress nor a dragon to be slain, just pure “shoot all things on screen” kind of game that brings back those awesome glory afternoons spending money at the arcades.

There’s no puzzles to solve, little or any exploration to do. Just avoid those hordes of enemies that show no mercy and throw us everything they have!
That’s maybe the only flaw in this game, its extreme difficulty. Just look at these narrow passages!! You must be highly focused not to mess this up!

With amazing pre-rendered graphics, great music and sound effects and a superb spot-on smooth frame rate, uncommon on a Super Nintendo game, this gem must be enjoyed by everyone out there even if you’ve never heard of Turrican or R-Type, which I think it’s almost impossible!

Below there’s a link for downloading the free ROM and please thank the Nolan Brothers for their hard work on making this possible for all Super Nintendo players to enjoy and appreciate one of the greatest hidden gems ever!

Download the free ROM from:

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domingo, 15 de março de 2015

Rally Trophy [2001, PC/Windows] Review - It's a Pixel THING - Ep.#42

Established in March 2000, Bugbear Entertainment started its successful career in video game development with this amazing Rally Trophy that raised the bar in the racing genre.

Published by JoWooD Productions in November 2001, this Windows exclusive title was considered, by many, one of the most realistic and challenging racing games for its time.

Being based on historic rally cars, the physics models, combined with no traction control or ABS or any kind of driving aids, turns Rally Trophy into a pretty good rally racing simulation, a totally new thing that only PC gamers had the chance to try! There was also a planned Xbox version that never came out on the system. Never understood why.

I totally believe that it scared many players, hoping to find a Colin McRae style of racing. That’s why this title is so enjoyable: the difficulty of the controls, the skills needed to master this game, all this attracted me like a magnet!

There are 42 beautiful and highly detailed stages across 5 countries and we’ll encounter several types of road surfaces in Russia, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden and Kenya. So, be prepared to drive a aidless historic car in tarmac, gravel and mud! I can guarantee: it’s super fun! And your co-driver is always goofing around punching you with all kind of hilarious comments!

So, Rally Trophy isn’t just another boring world rally championship game.
I remember that, back in the day, the game was really demanding, graphically speaking. Fortunately it remained playable on all windows versions that came after XP and I could later play it with all graphical options on its maximum. And I can tell you that this is one hell of a gorgeous game to look at! An example of this is, ‘till its release date, the presence of the most complex and dynamic sun flares and effects ever seen in any racing game! And, speaking of effects, those dust clouds and flying particles are a sight to behold! Just beautiful!

We’re given the option to drive a classic, amazing and hugely deformable rally car from yesterday. All vehicles are very well modeled and detailed, with those awesome dashboards with fully functioning dials and such, and it’s an extreme joy to try them all and, probably, slam them into a tree ‘cause your co-driver screamed at your ears that an animal was crossing the road!

The cars available are the Mini Cooper, the Saab 9-6, the Alfa Romeo Giulia, the Fiat 600 Abarth, the Opel Kadett, the Lancia Fulvia, the Ford Cortina and Escort, the Volvo Amazon, the Alpine A110 and, lastly, the amazing Lancia Stratos. Each car handling is well balanced between being realistic and challenging. Also the fun factor is a major player in this game making it extremely rewarding to drive; and sliding is very well implemented, mainly in those cars with rear wheel drive.
I must advise you that Rally Trophy has a steep learning curve. So, if you’re looking for a driving game that you can master in a few hours, you’d better look somewhere else.

Variety is this game’s middle name, with the already mentioned 42 stages with its own and special types of terrain. Now, throw some night stages with snow, mud and rain, with included lightning bolts, and you get a wide range of different extreme driving conditions to dominate. Try to maintain your car intact! Otherwise, if you crash and brake the headlights, you won’t see, like Portuguese people say: “the tip of a horn” (in Portuguese: "a ponta de um corno") on those night stages! And that will be a serious challenge!

To keep the bar really elevated, the developers have taken the engine noises directly from the actual rally cars they are based on, so the sound design aspect of Rally Trophy is also extremely well produced.

As for the gaming modes, we can choose between single race, championship and multiplayer mode, but there’s also an arcade option where we get to play a rallycross type of race with other opponents simultaneously on track that, back then, had a frame rate issue ‘cause there were a lot going on at the same time. Fortunately this was the least important feature in Rally Trophy. So, don’t bother trying.

If you just want more tracks, cars, skins, sounds and other stuff, just head over to and you’ll be amazed by the quantity and, most of all, quality of the work put together by Rally Trophy’s online community.

To conclude this review, here’s a tip to unlock all modes, cars and tracks: in the game menu simply use this combination of words “KALJAKOPPA” as your name and magic will happen!

Rally trophy is a demanding game, no doubt about it, but, in the end, you’ll be hugely satisfied for completing one more stage! Also, listening to your co-driver yelling at you ears, is, as Portuguese people would say, “to crack the coconut with laughter” (in Portuguese: "de partir do coco a rir")!

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domingo, 8 de março de 2015

Europress Software & Mini Office Amiga Review - It's a Pixel THING - Ep.#41

Microsoft Word 1.0, that would later be part of the most successful business suite for multi-tasking in a windows type of environment, was introduced, firstly, on a Macintosh computer, in 1984, the first year of the Macintosh. Word was soon followed by Excel 1.0 and Powerpoint 1.0.

A few years later, the first Microsoft Office package, featuring Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Microsoft Mail, was finally presented to the public: Microsoft Office 89 for Mac.

Office for Windows was only introduced in 1990 for Microsoft’s own powerful and improved Windows 3.0 Operating system. My first contact with Microsoft’s new environment and Office applications was in ‘92, with the upgraded Windows 3.1.

In this same year, the Amiga family also got a business suite of their own: Mini Office, from Europress Software, a company that I only knew for being the publisher of the awesome Network Q RAC Rally game for DOS, released a year later.

During the 80s the Europress group consisted of several other companies, including software development, and, with the boom of personal computers, quickly reached, in the early 90s, the top 5 largest British software houses.
It all started in 1965, year when Derek Meakin formed Europress to publish magazines and newspapers. During the eighties, with the growth of the British computer industry, Europress expanded its own publishing business and became involved in software development. Later in the decade, Europress Software was separated from the main company and inside it a new brand for video games was created – Mandarin Software – and presented to the press in, you guessed it, a Chinese restaurant in London.

In the eighties, and under the label Database Educational Software, Europress was responsible for a series of educational packages in the UK that were sold only by mail order. Then, in 1989, the Fun School 2 range of software was packaged more professionally and also placed in store shelves all around the place. These packages were available for the Zed X Spectrum, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, Acorn Electron, Amstrad CPC, Amiga, Atari ST and DOS, and went on through 1998 with the very last Fun School 7 CD-Rom set of education software. The Fun School range went on to sell more than 500,000 copies.

Also, in 1991, Europress bought Newsfield, a highly reputed publishing company responsible for the awesome, and much respected, computer and video games magazines Zzap!64 and Crash. This new branch of the Europress empire, branded Europress Impact, went on for three more years with five new publications (Sega Force, Mega Machines, N-Force, SNES Force, Amiga Force), ‘till it all collapsed in 1994.

In 2012, and under distribution by this company which name I refuse to pronounce (KOCH MEDIA), Europress developed a puzzle adventure game inspired by Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride & Prejudice that also had its debiu in movie theaters back in 2005 with academy award nominee Keira Knightley leading the cast.

Other great video game titles published under Europress Software’s label were:
• in 1992, Dojo Dan, for Commodore Amiga and with an awesome soundtrack by Allister Brimble;
• in 1996, Titanic: Adventure Out Of Time, for Windows and Macintosh;
• in 1997, Rally Championship: The X-Miles add-on, for Windows;
• in 1999, Mobil 1 Rally Championship, for Windows and PS One, and now under Actualize, the re-branded Europress.
But, in 1992, came this weird title that was bundled in a coverdisk of Amiga Action magazine #43): Unsensible Soccer, where we get to play with a team of oranges!

In 1992 came, as well, this business suite of professional software to take advantage of all the multi-tasking and graphical capabilities of the Commodore Amiga. This way, the Amiga could also be seen as a workstation rather than a simple, but powerful, games console. The usual Commodore customers would stick with the brand and potential ones would consider the Amiga platform as a serious contender of the IBM PC and Macintosh in this area, now that the more appealing and highly anticipated A1200 and A4000 were being released. Besides the price of Amiga computers being much more attractive, also this package of office software was hugely affordable compared to its Microsoft’s counterpart! Europress Mini Office’s starting price was only 59 pounds! And you could do just the same stuff and probably more with this one!

Looking at the box, its white background automatically tells us that we’re facing a set of serious software stuff for the Amiga computers. At that time there weren’t many options in this area, just some old and obsolete packages or shareware that no longer suited the need for more modern and thoughtful work.

So, let’s take a deeper look into this Mini Office. In the first of the three application disks there’s the Database, a very important tool for companies. Compared to other database programs on the market, it’s really simple to use and the manual bundled with this suite is clear and highly understandable.
The graphical environment is really good to look at, and, in the bottom, there’s some VCR style buttons for searching and saving, along with other normal functions.

In the same disk there’s a useful set of utilities application allowing users to manipulate information, format disks, delete files, rename, copy and even install Mini Office on the hard drive, if you have one on your Amiga.

As for the spreadsheet application, it works pretty much like all the others with those standard pull-down menus, but it can import ASCII files and can manage binary code, something unusual in this kind of thing back then. To scroll through the sheet we just need to use those VCR style buttons at the bottom.

Jumping right into the word processor, it’s a simple and handy tool that, unfortunately doesn’t support postscript, so, there’s only 7 different fonts to choose from, but it does, however, let us import photos and pictures into the text. All usual utilities in a word processor are present, so it does the job very well.

The graphical utility present in this package is a pretty useful way of representing boring mathematical data. It is way more attractive than just showing a bunch of numbers, right? We just need to import the data from the spreadsheet and we can now draw the graphic. There are various types to choose from and everything is displayed by icons that we can easily understand and identify. Finally, after we’re satisfied with our pretty looking graphic, we can place it into the text in the word processor, just like a picture.

Besides sharing similar design, all applications work together as one which is extremely convenient ‘cause it helps understanding, really quickly, how everything works.

To conclude, Mini Office Amiga is a really friendly package and, back then, would certainly make PC and Macintosh users blush with shame!

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