Apple II Wii

July 16th, 2018 9:12 AM
Filed under Hacks & mods;

I’m not one to hack, crack, or jailbreak; I tend to use products as they were designed. One notable exception was the Nintendo Wii, a video game console released in 2006. Its innovative point-and-click interface made possible a variety of console game genres and experiences that were previously impossible. I wanted to see what hobbyists and enthusiasts could do with these tools, so I installed the Homebrew Channel.

Ironically, my favorite use of the channel was the SCUMM emulator: once this tool was installed, I could play classic LucasArts games. I owned a legal copy of Day of the Tentacle, but it required a version of Classic Mac OS that I didn’t have. By copying its files to an SD card, I was able to play it on the Wii’s ScummVM. It remains the only way I’ve ever played this game, despite its 2016 remastering and release for modern systems such as Mac OS X, iOS, and PlayStation 4.

I deleted the Homebrew Channel before migrating my data to the Wii U in 2012, and it’s only now that I realize what an opportunity I missed: the original Wii could emulate not only SCUMM, but also the Apple II. Christian Simpson explores this feature on a recent episode of his YouTube series, Retro Recipes:

The video is more an overview of the Wii’s many emulation modes; we don’t get to see the Apple II until 5:36 into the video. At that point, we discover the emulator, WiiApple, is a port of AppleWin/LinApple — neat! But the only game we see it play is Frogger — not more popular or original games like Choplifter, Lode Runner, Prince of Persia, or King’s Quest.

WiiApple is a nine-year-old emulator running on a twelve-year-old console. Nintendo has since released the Wii U (2012) and Switch (2017), but Apple II emulators for either have not yet surfaced. If you want to emulate the Apple II on a home game console, Simpson’s video shows you what’s still the best way.

(Hat tip to Christian on Google+)

Little Inferno for Apples old and new

May 6th, 2013 11:56 AM
Filed under Game trail, Mainstream coverage;
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One of the best Nintendo Wii games was an indie title called World of Goo. The 2009 release marked the first (and, so far, only) game from developer 2D Boy, who then went on to port it to Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iOS, Android, and BlackBerry, including as part of the Humble Indie Bundle — but the game was best in its original home on the Nintendo Wii.

Now Kyle Gabler, one of the leading forces behind 2D Boy, has released his first Nintendo Wii U game: Little Inferno. Unlike World of Goo, which received a 94% average rating (making it one of the best Wii games ever), Little Inferno has received only a 79% and described as more of a fireplace simulator that requires repetitive actions than an actual game.

Just as strange as the evolution from World of Goo to Little Inferno is the way in which the latter’s developer and publisher, Tomorrow Corporation, announced the game’s port to OS X. Five months after its Wii U debut, this image appeared on the game’s Web site:

Little Inferno

This is not the Apple you’re looking for.

That, dear reader, is most certainly NOT a Mac. It’s an amusing image, but a perplexing one. What is Tomorrow Corporation trying to say about this port? That they find the Mac an archaic platform? That Little Inferno can run on anything? If so, it’s a bit of an exaggeration — it’s not like they actually ported a modern game to the Commodore 64 of anything.

Of the twenty comments on the blog post, only one, the first, acknowledges the discrepancy: "Hahaha, awesome. Of course you guys have a pic of it ‘running’ on an Apple II. You never fail to make me laugh. Kudos!"

If there’s one thing I learned from World of Goo, it’s that 2D Boy and Tomorrow Corporation certainly have a strange sense of humor.

(Hat tip to Mike Schramm via Steve Weyhrich)

An Apple II emulator for Dick Tracy’s watch

January 14th, 2013 10:19 AM
Filed under History;
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Apple II emulators are most broadly used on modern platforms, such as Sweet16 for Mac OS X or AppleWin for Windows. But the Apple II inspires a hacker’s "can-do" spirit, and for the novelty if no other reason, the Apple II has been emulated in a variety of non-standard environments.

Video game consoles are likely targets for emulation, as unintuitive as that may seem. WiiApple was released for the Nintendo Wii back in 2009. It unfortunately hasn’t been updated. It supports a USB keyboard as well as GameCube and Wii controllers as a substitute for a standard Apple II joystick. Similarly, Soul Captor for the now-defunct Sega Dreamcast was released in 2002. It too requires a physical keyboard — no iOS-style virtual keyboards here.

But perhaps most interesting is this Apple II emulator for the Fossil Wrist, a Palm OS-based PDA that was sold 2003–2005. This Dick Tracy watch featured a 160×160 B&W touchscreen and could run most Palm software. Using the program Appalm ][ (formerly PalmApple), the wristwatch could could be turned into a portable Apple II.

Fossil Watch emulator

Karateka is everywhere!
Photo by Don Dula.

There are many more details about the Fossil Wrist on DonDula’s blog post. And, of course, there are many other unusual emulators out there, which I cannot begin to attempt to catalog here. Suffice to say that, chances are, if it’s a computer, you can upgrade it to an Apple II.

(Hat tips to Sayt and Javster)

Life & Death in the Trauma Center

June 28th, 2010 12:08 PM
Filed under Software showcase;
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I was searching on YouTube for videos of Apple II games and came across a ten-minute demo of Life & Death. I’d never heard of this game, despite its proliferation in 1988 to Mac OS, DOS, Amiga, Atari ST, and, of course, the Apple IIGS. It appears to be a medical simulation game in which you interact with patients, make diagnoses, then perform surgery. Here’s the video:

On the Apple II, this game is reminiscent of Operation Frog, a game by Tom Snyder (who later went on to create the animated television series Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist). Naturally, there is far less dialogue and diagnosis in Operation Frog, as the game recreates the experience of a high school biology lab and lessons in basic anatomy.

But more striking to me was Life & Death’s resemblance to Trauma Center, a series of video games that launched on the Nintendo DS in 2005 and now enjoys popularity on the Nintendo Wii. In these games, interaction with patients is drawn out into a cohesive storyline. Diagnosis occurs automatically, but you still need to choose the proper tools for surgery; failure to act wisely or swiftly will result in the patient’s death, or game over, returning you to the beginning of the level. Check out the similarities for yourself:

Given the popularity of edutainment software in the 1980s, I’m not surprised that a real-life profession would be simulated in a video game as far back as 22 years ago. What is impressive is that technology has not dramatically changed the nature of electronic entertainment. The interface and complexity of Life & Death and Trauma Center are noticeably different, but the theme and gameplay of the two are almost identical. No one acknowledges the Apple IIGS for pioneering this particular genre, even though it continues to be an unconscious inspiration. For example, it wasn’t until the fifth game in the Trauma Center series, Trauma Team, that players were given the opportunity to diagnose patients themselves.

There’s nothing unusual about Apple II classics inspiring modern hits; I presented on the topic myself at KansasFest 2009 and will be pursuing the issue further at next month’s event. But I never expected Trauma Center, which I previously considered unique to the Nintendo, to have its genesis on the Apple II. It truly was a computer ahead of its time, even recreationally.