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Retro Gaming Hacks: Tips & Tools for Playing the Classics ****-

Retro Gaming Hacks: Tips & Tools for Playing the Classics By Chris Kohler
Published October 2005
List Price: $29.99, Your Amazon.com Price: $24.55

Amazon.com Sales Rank: 918,361
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Maybe it was the recent Atari 2600 milestone anniversary that fueled nostalgia for the golden days of computer and console gaming. Every Game Boy must ponder his roots from time to time. But whatever is driving the current retro gaming craze, one thing is certain: classic games are back for a big second act, and they're being played in both old and new ways.

Whether you've just been attacked by Space Invaders for the first time or you've been a Pong junkie since puberty, Chris Kohler's Retro Gaming Hacks is the indispensable new guide to playing and hacking classic games. Kohler has complied tons of how-to information on retro gaming that used to take days or weeks of web surfing to track down and sort through, and he presents it in the popular and highly readable Hacks style.

Retro Gaming Hacks serves up 85 hard-nosed hacks for reviving the classic games. Want to game on an original system? Kohler shows you how to hack ancient hardware, and includes a primer for home-brewing classic software. Rather adapt today's equipment to run retro games? Kohler provides emulation techniques, complete with instructions for hacking a classic joystick that's compatible with a contemporary computer. This book also teaches readers to revive old machines for the original gaming experience: hook up an Apple II or a Commodore 64, for example, and play it like you played before.

A video game journalist and author of Power Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life, Kohler has taught the history of video games at Tufts University. In Retro Gaming Hacks, he locates the convergence of classic games and contemporary software, revealing not only how to retrofit classic games for today's systems, but how to find the golden oldies hidden in contemporary programs as well.

Whether you're looking to recreate the magic of a Robotron marathon or simply crave a little handheld Donkey Kong, Retro Gaming Hacks shows you how to set the way-back dial.

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Nov 21 2005 07:11 AM
Another great book in O'Reilly's Hacks series, reading Retro Gaming Hacks brought a tear of nostalgia to my eye and reminded me of how much I missed the old days. This book is a kind of how-to guide for old timers and new kids alike to discover or rediscover the joys of retro games. The sections on finding, purchasing and restoring old consoles and PCs almost made me want to hop online that instant and start searching for the old classics. However, many people simply don't have the time and/or to dedicate to caring and restoring for these sometimes fragile machines (I remember how often my Atari would blow up :P) and for them the answer is emulation.

The majority of the book deals with learning how to install and run emulators and ROMs. The nicest thing about it is that there are a ton of emulators out there for each seperate console/platform, and each hack gives you a short list of the best emulators to use, making it easy to get started. Now, the problem with emulation is that it's not legal to download and play a ROM of a game that you don't physically own, but the book does alert the reader to this issue. The book also sidesteps this problem by pointing you to various home brew websites, where people have created their own game ROMs for consoles/platforms in the public domain as well as some sites that actually legally sell ROMs of old games. It also points out a few instances where companies have so far declined to take action against their games being distributed as ROMs and warns the reader to use their own judgment.

The next section of the book is what really caught my attention, where several hacks guide you through the basics of programming on the GBA, programming in DOS, designing your own text adventures, and even loading your GBA games onto cartridges and packaging them.

Finally the book ends with hacks on a few retro games, like learning patterns in Pac-Man, popular tricks in Super Mario Bros., and risque hacks for the Leisure Suit Larry series. All fun stuff anyone would definetly want to try. If you've always been a fan of retro games, remember those days from your youth and want to get them back in some form, have been looking to make simple games, or have yet to discover the joys of the classics, I'd reccomend picking up this book.