News Team Current issue History Online Support Download Forum @Pouet

01 - 02 - SE - 03 - 04 - 05 - 06 - 07 - 08 - 09 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14

Alive 5

Game and Watch For Atari
by the French Connection 

It  still amazes me that even today,  there are still people toiling away in
obscure  corners of the scene,  hardly getting any attention,  or seeming to
seek  anything like that.  You might consider the example of the Narsil Disk 
Magazine,  who are well on their way to doing more issues than anyone, doing
their own Czech or Slovak thing. But they never seem to register on anyone's
'scene radar' at all?

Another  example of this,  is the website run by a group calling itself  the
'French Connection'. These seem to have a long history, and show off lots of
coding,  games and assorted stuff,  which has been collected over a long run
of  years.  I've got the feeling that most of it hasn't been seen outside of
the  French  scene.  Then I look a bit closer,  and I find out that they are
still producing new material.

So  there are some new games,  and no-one knows about them?  With the furore
that  comes  when better known teams,  such as the Reservoir Gods choose  to
release,   I  thought  I  should  investigate  more  closely.    The  French
Connection,  in the person of Florente Coste, are taking a leaf from the Res
Gods  'Nintari' book,  only this isn't anything to do with NES,  or Gameboy,
but  an altogether earlier generation of hardware.  Florente chooses to  pay
tribute to the Game and Watch generation, with his 'LCD Revival Games'.

There  are  a couple so far,  with more on the way.  The first of these is a
pixel-perfect imitation of the classic 'Ball'.

I'm  not  sure whether to class these as emulations or  imitations?  As  the
screenshot below illustrates,  this is a perfect copy of the original,  even
down  to  a  screen replication of the stylish plastic  fascia  and  control
buttons.  What  next,  a  VCS 2600 emulation with wood-grain textures in the
screen borders perhaps?

What a Load of Balls!

Technically,  it has been designed to work around a standard ST. In spite of
the  clumsy  setting-up  process,  converting an .ST  format  disk-image  to
something that can be run on a real Atari, it proves surprisingly amenable.

It  isn't  in an autobooting hyper-weird format,  so it can read off a  hard
drive,  and  even  better from my point of view,  runs perfectly fine off  a
Falcon  desktop.  The only bit of fiddling required is to get it down to  an
ST-Low  resolution  screen mode,  and that is it.  Controls are very simple,
with a  choice of keyboard,  joystick,  or mouse buttons.  The two games use
left and right buttons as the only form of ingame control.

The menu is blue,  borderless, simple and classy. Starting the game puts the
neatly  imitated  LCD screen in the centre,  surrounded by the  faux-plastic
decor of the carefully imitated Game and Watch.  The game itself bears every
resemblance  to the recent Res Gods 24 hour game 'Double Juggle',  and bears
interesting comparisons.

What  'Ball'  lacks  in  high-wire  walkers,  MSG  composed  SID-tunes,  and
cuttingly  funny  readme  files,  it  makes up for  in  total  authenticity.
Gameplay  wraps  itself  tightly around the simple formula  of  'move  left, 
right,  keep  the balls in the air' Until you drop one,  and it's game over.
Rather  good for those occasions where you want to play something,  but  you
really only have got five minutes to spare.

There  is  a second release so far,  which keeps the simplicity of the  two-
button  gameplay  from  'Balls',  but  adds in the more  complex  appeal  of
depicting  a well-known cartoon character.  The gameplay subtly alters to  a
'catching'  theme,  and with a new element,  of dodging the swinging fist of
Bluto,  Popeye's  deadly  enemy.  Unlike  'Balls',  where a 'one mistake and
you're  out' policy is in force,  'Popeye' gives you a couple more lives  to

Both  games  have simple sound effects,  and the refinement of a high  score
table, which surely didn't exist in the original.

If  you  want to find out for yourself,  and see what these guys  are  doing
next, why not surf to:-

Rather well produced, slick and tidy. 
A good imitation of the original. 
Widely hardware compliant, written with Atari emulator in mind. 
Has got a certain 'cute' appeal. 
Development is recent and ongoing, good for them!

Ultimately limited by the simplistic Game and Watch concept. 
Misses out on the pocket portability of the original. 
Suffers from obscurity (hopefully rectified now!)

CiH for Alive! Mag - June '02

Alive 5