Thursday, January 26, 2023

Atari VCS 1 month later

So, it's been a month, and I've had some time to really mess around with the Atari VCS. Here's some things I've learned from both lurking and talking in the Discord and just from my own gosh darn experimentation.

1- When you buy the VCS, you're buying the brand and the Atari joystick controller.  Ultimately, that's what it boils down to.  There's nothing really exclusive to the Atari VCS shop that you can't find in other places or on other consoles. It's a tweaky little unit with a cool look, and the special Atari branding that someone who grew up with the Atari (like myself) will find fun an attractive. You'll get the great Asteroids start up screen, some modern classic vibes, and all the things I mentioned in the previous post . . . just don't expect to find something here you won't find in other online game stores.

2- Expect to spend a lot of money in search of the perfect paddle or trackball controller for the VCS if that be your desire. Sure sure . . .you can use the built in paddle on the classic controller that comes with the console, but outside of this, you're going to be spending over $100 (on sale) for something along the lines of the Atari Ultimate Arcade Controller from Microcenter. Granted, you would probably spend this much money on a paddle even if it was just for use on your computer though as far as I can tell.

Maybe next Christmas, beautiful controller . . . maybe next Christmas

3- Antstream Arcade is the perfect classic game streaming service for the Atari VCS.  It's easy to see why this is a natural fit for the console.  I think it's a brilliant choice, and you'll want to download this from the app store ASAP. Of course, if you don't want to wait for the VCS, you can just download Antstream and use it right now with your computer or android device. (Add Stingite as a friend while you're at it!)

All the old favorites!

4- I put my VCS in PC Mode exactly one time.  That's it.  I loaded up Ubuntu onto a USB Thumb Drive, plugged in a mouse and keyboard and thought . . . ok . . . um . . . not needed for me. Sure I got to surf the Internet from my TV and play a game of solitaire. The next step there would be to download Steam and play your steam games from the VCS . . . or possibly a classic games emulator, but I personally would just use my desktop or laptop to do that instead of the VCS.

5- I downloaded the game Donut Dodo from the Atari app store and played A TON. Holy sheeemoly this game is a fantastic arcade game with an amazing amount of replay-ability! Really some great implementation of a modern take on the classic arcade game. As it turns out, it's also available for download on Steam. I think you can play it on other platforms like the Playstation as well. It's $4 well spent. Between Antstream and Donut Dodo, that's where I've spent the majority of time on my VCS.

TFN (The Friendly Necromancer) finally made it to the Weekly High Score Board!

6- The only streaming service that seems to work well with the VCS controllers is Plex, which makes it the logical streaming platform of choice for the Atari VCS. The problem here is . . . Plex? I haven't found a really good reason to justify yet another streaming service. Plex does offer random news channels from each US time zone, so that's cool. I guess I should explore more of what Plex has to offer.

And that's about it! 

So what does the future of the VCS hold for me?  Well, there are a couple more games I have my eye on in the Atari VCS store.  All the "recharged" classics look like a lot of fun, and the developer for BPM Boy is on the VCS Discord chattin' up the fans.  I'm down to try that game. I also want to try loading up the built in Chrome Browser on the VCS and streaming games from Geforce Now. That sounds like it could be amazing!   

So far, the VCS has given me a lot of entertainment for the price. I'll be back with more thoughts as I continue to explore this great little console that I've been having fun with.

Happy Dueling!

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

I lied -- Icarus Solo in the Styx

Yeah, remember when a couple weeks ago I said I was swearing off Icarus solo? I lied.

I also discovered the joys of riding an Emu!

I've played a ton of Icarus solo over my holiday break. Kind of a stupid amount of Icarus actually, so I thought I better write up an apologetic post where I walk it all back and tell you about the excitement that is The Styx!

I like earning those exotics as rewards! Woot!

Actually I just have my own darn self to blame since in that last post I went on explaining that Icarus has two mission paths, one in Olympus and one in the Styx. It put a bug in me that I wanted to check out the Styx, and I wasn't quite sure if the ol' Lessah, Mythery, and me team would actually get over to that side of the mission spectrum since there's so much Olympus to explore.  

And with that I was sent on a Christmas vacation journey of five Styx Missions:

  • Headlong: Exploration
  • Omphalos: Expedition
  • Ricochet: Expedition
  • Kismet Exploration
  • Highrise: Construction

Yeah, that was a lot of playtime.  Whoops.  Not only was saying I was swearing off soloing a lie, it was a big lie. I played waaaaaay too much Icarus, and it was enough to kind of change my mind a bit about Icarus.

The Styx is massive in size compared to what you explore in Olympus. The map is just enormous.  You'll find world bosses that you must avoid when solo.  You'll find a plethora of new animals that crawl the floor, and in larger abundance! Caves seem to be a bit more hidden and with a bunch less copper. Missions asked for harder things to be crafted.  Overall, it just felt more tuned to a 50th level character than the Olympus missions, which is what I think might have been leading to some of my boredom.

Of those Styx missions listed above, the hardest were Ricochet Expedition and Highrise Construction. 

I'm a Scorched Traveller II now!

Ricochet Expedition had me drilling through the mountain to find a cave tunnel and then fending off waves of angry Cave Worms, then exploring around the desert and guarding two spots where I again fended off waves of Crocodiles, Komodo Dragons, and Jaguars. I had to end up building concrete walls in the middle of the desert to make this one work. Those Crocodiles are just too hard to kill. 

You don't think the new tenets will mind ducking under a few wires, do you?

Highrise Construction had me building an enormous seven story tall tower while the weather conditions were showing up as lightning storms every half hour or so.  The hardest part of this mission was finding all the copper I needed to build all the electronics I needed to fulfil the mission requirements, because it wasn't just building a seven story tall tower, it was filling it with working lighting, a bunch of other knick knacks, and topping it off with an observation deck made out of glass.

Sure it may not be pretty, but at least it's lightning proof?

So, I'm changing my analysis . . . Icarus can still be fun solo, but when you're level 50 . . . I'd recommend shifting over to the Styx missions. They're a lot more challenging and dangerous, which makes the gameplay more fun.

Happy Dueling!