Too Much Free Time

Discussion and reviews of games for NES, Intellivision, DOS, and others.

Archive for the ‘1991’ Category

Nintendo Action Games

Posted by Tracy Poff on July 2, 2015

Nintendo Action Games by Christopher Lampton reviews twelve action games for the NES.

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It’s incredible that not so long ago a book such as this could be published. There’s nothing wrong with the idea of it–brief reviews and miniature strategy guides was also the format of Jeff Rovin’s excellent How to Win at Nintendo Games series, after all–but there are only twelve games included in the book, and the entries are far from thorough.

The average entry contains one full-page screenshot and about two pages of text, half of which is a description and review, and half tips, passwords, and trivia. The reviews are brief sketches at best. The tips are often useless, too; for Tetris, Lampton offers:

The rows that you fill in don’t have to be at the bottom of the screen. They can be anywhere in the pile. If there are holes you can’t reach because of the pieces on top of them, see if you can’t remove the rows that are in your way.

Another tip informs us that the line piece, though rare, is useful. Gee, thanks.

The ‘Fascinating Factoids’ are no better. From the entry for Ninja Gaiden:

The Japanese word gaiden means “telegram” or “message.” At the beginning of the game, the Ninja Ryu receives a message from his late father telling him to go to America. Hence, the title means, roughly, “Ninja message.”

Nice story. It’d be nicer if it were true. The gaiden (外伝) in the title means, roughly, ‘side story’. There is a word gaiden (外電) meaning telegram, but it’s not the one that is used in the game’s title. Better luck next time.

In the future, I’ll take a look at Rovin’s work for an example of this kind of book done right. As for this one–well, don’t trust it more than any random blog on the internet, I suppose.

List of games

  • The Adventures of Lolo 2
  • Batman
  • Bubble Bobble
  • Contra
  • Double Dragon II: The Revenge
  • Duck Tales
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Tetris
  • 1943

Bibliography

[Lampton1991]
Christopher Lampton, Nintendo Action Games. (Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press, 1991).
[Rovin1988]
Jeff Rovin, How to Win at Nintendo Games. (St. Martin’s Press, 1988).
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Posted in 1991, Book | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

WordPerfect 5.1

Posted by Tracy Poff on September 16, 2014

Technically, this blog is meant to be about video games. But I’ve written about hardware and magazines and books and whatever this is, so I figure anything fitting broadly under the retrocomputing banner is fair game.

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This one may be familiar to you. WordPerfect 5.1, released in 1989, was quite a popular word processor, and it persisted for many years. In fact, it seems that people still want to use it to this day. It was used in my keyboarding class, in high school, so this is a bit of nostalgia for me.

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When you first open WordPerfect 5.1, you’re greeted with a blank, blue screen, plus some details about the current position of the cursor. I’m fairly sure this violates a few interface design principles. On the other hand, considering that WordPerfect cost hundreds of dollars, perhaps they expected people to be willing to read the manual.

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Once you know how to use it, WordPerfect 5.1 is a powerful word processor, capable of doing pretty much anything you’d like. More modern word processors may be prettier, but all of the basic functions were there. The image above is what WordPerfect calls draft mode–a semi-WYSIWYG display suitable for general use. You could also turn on ‘reveal codes’ mode, which displays markup in a manner reminiscent of HTML or BBCode:

A blank, blue screen is just so… [Italc On]inviting[Italc Off]… wouldn’t you say?[HRt]

Naturally, when printed, the document would actually use italic or bold text, or whatever other formatting was selected. WordPerfect was intended, after all, for preparing documents for print, not for display on a computer screen. All of the various options could be accessed either though a menu (activated with Alt+=) or through some combination of modifier and function keys.

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The Windows version of WordPerfect 5.1, released in 1991, defaults to a WYSIWYG view that should seem familiar modern computer users. It does still support draft mode and ‘reveal codes’ mode, for those who long for the (shall we say) simplicity of the DOS version.

I never used the Windows version of WordPerfect 5.1, back in the nineties. The word on the internet seems to be that it’s very buggy, which is a shame, since it seems like a fairly usable word processor, otherwise.

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Just for fun, I tried just double-clicking the document I saved in WP 5.1 for DOS, opening it in LibreOffice. As you can see, it opens and renders flawlessly, despite the programs being released 25 years apart–a true standard-bearer for backwards compatibility! It makes me wonder if the present incarnation of WordPerfect could do the same.

I could spend pages discussing all the features of WordPerfect 5.1, but I really just wanted a quick look at it, to allow for comparison, so this much will suffice. I’ll write similar overviews of other contemporary word processors (Coming soon! Maybe.) and other applications, to show some of the variety in software on the market. There was a great deal of evolution in a fairly short time, so it should be interesting to see how they compare.

Posted in 1989, 1991, DOS, Windows 3.x, Word Processor | 1 Comment »