Category Archives: Retro Computing

Steam Deck-ing across the universe!

Suddenly, a new toy appears!

The Steam Deck 1Tb OLED edition.

This device is not yet available for shipping in Australia 😉 So I got it from Kogan who do direct import.

I decided I needed something to take when I go on holidays or just to have in the glovebox when I’m charging my car. I was tempted to get a Nintendo Switch, but you know.. I’d have to re-purchase games I already have bought on Steam and I would also not be able to sync my cloud saves. A Steam Deck would be perfect! They also have free games from time to time and Sales every season plus some monthly sales.

The other handy thing is you can install EmuDeck and play all games from retro platforms such as GameBoy, GameCube, Arcade games, PS1-3, XBoxes, Megadrive, NES, Supernintendo, etc. The list is too big to put here, plus you can also run emulators for old computers such as Ataris, Commodores (64, 128, Amiga, etc), MSX .. You name it since it also has MAME/MESS you can have hundreds of thousands of games at your fingertips easily installed and played.

I downloaded a bunch of games from my Steam Library and installed EmuDeck with a bunch of games and I have about 300Gb out of 1Tb used already 😀

I’ve been playing Balatro, Bioshock, Ori, Shattered Pixel Dungeon, Crazy Taxi, Insaniquarium, KeeperRL, Super Meatboy and more!

I also have recently installed the Decky plugin which lets you install other useful plugins such as:

  • ProtonDB – Adds ProtonDB badges to tell you how likely the game you own will run easily on the Steam Deck.
  • HLTB – How long to beat a game.
  • VibrantDeck – Makes your Steam Library view and games look more vibrant – particularly on the OLED Deck.
  • FreeGames – Notifies you when there’s free games to get from Epic, Steam, etc.
  • AutoFlatPacks – Automatically notifies and updates non-Steam Flatpack installs (eg Firefox)
  • AnimationChanger – Lets you add new themes to customise your Deck when it boots/shuts down, etc
  • ControllerTools – Displays your PS4/XBox/other controller battery status and more!
  • DiscordStatus – Adds the current game you’re playing on your Deck to your Discord status.

There’s several other useful addons to choose from.

HERO for VZ200

H.E.R.O. for VZ200

At the end of last year I decided to write a port of the Commodore 64 game H.E.R.O. for the Dick Smith VZ200 and VZ300 computers.

I wrote it using the Multi-Platform Arcade Game Designer software. This makes it much easier to design games since it has built-in sprite and code designing all in the one package.

H.E.R.O title screen

You fly your backpack helicopter around the various caves and try to rescue the trapped miners. You will need to use dynamite to blow up walls blocking your progress and shoot critters with your laser gun.

In-game screenshot

It was quite fun to make and I’m glad it’s completed so others can enjoy the game.

There’s a link on the Blue Bilby website to the page for the game.

VZ200 Christmas demo

I saw a few people had written demos for Christmas for the Commodore 64 and other platforms and I decided I didn’t want the Dick Smith VZ200 to miss out. So, I got out Aseprite and designed some very large sprites and a heading in Paint.Net

Next, I wrote all the required code in Turbo Rascal Syntax Error.

You can see the results below:

TRSE Demo for VZ200

I’ve added in support for non-destructable sprites and fixed a few other things (one with the help of Leslie Ayling on the VZ200 Facebook group, THANKS!) 🙂
You can write text, draw sprites, make sounds, etc using Turbo Rascal Syntax Error.
Next, I need to work out support for joysticks and reading keys held down. (You can currently scan for keyboard presses using ROM Calls but this is not efficient and doesn’t work too well for games).

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Turbo Rascal Syntax Error “;” expected but BEGIN

This past week I became interested in this funky development environment called TRSE. They have written a (mostly) Pascal compiler and IDE, etc for 8-bit and 16-bit computers. I noticed they had not covered the Dick Smith VZ200 which was my first love in computers, so I asked how hard it’d be to add another Z80 computer.

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