Happy Halloween

Image of a bus shelter and advert which reads, 'Everything is fine. Keep shopping.'


Destruction Derby (1995) and Simple Joystick

C-SID with additional joystick box. Accessible Game Controller for switches and more.

I've been singing the praises of Destruction Derby for many years for its accessible design. It's huge fun, and is one of the easiest driving games to get around a track. If you jam the accellerator on the oval tracks, you can get around with a single switch for steering left or right. It's a PSone/PS2 compatible game, but can be found on PSN for the PS3 and a few other platforms.

Partially related to this, I recently built a simple joystick interface for modern games consoles for SpecialEffect. Pictured above is an Atari compatible Competition Pro joystick velcroed to a Maxess board, patched into a C-SID interface. This allows you to map up to five controls of your choice to the joystick. Ideal for many driving games. The plan is to have all of this available to play at REPLAY.


Touch Me (1974)

Atari 1974 Touch Me poster. Slightly abstract painting of the game buttons radiating sound merged with a finger and head.

In 1974 Atari released the first publicly available computer audio game in "Touch Me". If you've played "Simon Says", this is the same but electronic. Like many early games of the time, it was fully accessible to deaf-players. It may have been accessible to blind players too if the sounds played for each of the four buttons was different.

Beyond those firsts, Touch Me was likely the first pattern following game that would lead to Simon, Parappa the Rapper, Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero games.
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Alternative Dance Dance Revolution

One-switch Dance Dance Revolution dance mat game, made more accessible.

On the back of my daughter's love of Dance Dance Revolution machines, Hand Dance Pro and with SpecialEffect's support, I recently built a one-switch interface for DDR games.

Konami dance games allow you to use a standard joypad controller, which enables all sorts of accessibility hacks. The little interface box pictured below (front middle) allows you to patch one-switch to up to four dance moves. Just for fun, I attached a single floor-mat switch. With that you can just jump up and down on the spot to play the game. I did look daft doing this to Cameo's Word Up. Probably better suited to the Skinhead Moonstomp and the Pogo.

More great things about Konami's Playstation DDR games (aka DancingStage) include a range of high-contrast options, easier play options and the facility to play a song through in its entirety so you simply play for a high-score. You can also edit your own dance routines so you can slow things down significantly.

Of interest, Codemasters produced a PS2 game called Dance Factory has the facility to build dance routines from your own music CDs and will work in game-play with a single switch too.

C-SID accessible game controller with additional accessibility modules for one-switch dancing and more.

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Space Invaders (1978)

Space Invaders screen-shot. Space Invaders screen-shot.

The oldest game on the Replay SpecialEffect stand is planned to be the legendary Taito Space Invaders. This version will be made one-switch accessible, including putting in the money, selecting a one-player game and playing.

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Win a Black Skoog with Drake Music

Drake Music and Black Skoog.

Drake Music want your thoughts on how accessible formal music education is in the UK. Those taking part between now and the 2nd of November will be entered into a prize draw to win a new limited edition black Skoog.

Drake Music plans to publish the results of this consultation by the end of 2011. They will use the findings to draw up a short list of 'benchmark procedures' which will be shared with schools, colleges, exam boards and others throughout music education, to try and make formal music education more accessible for SEN/Disabled people.

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Accessible DJ

Following fledgling work with two-switch accessible music using JoyToKey and a chat, I was amazed and delighted to read Shaz Hossain's accessible DJ post at SpecialEffect. So much is possible he has proved. Inspiring stuff for the future of accessible music.


1982 Vectrex Minestorm One-switch Style

One-switch adapted Vectrex running Minestorm, on a Trabasack.

The second oldest game making its way to the SpecialEffect stand at REPLAY will be Minestorm for the MB Vectrex, dating from 1982. This mighty-fine vector-scan game has been adapted to be played with a single switch: Hyperspace.

The game sees your small space-ship dropped into a mine-field that you must clear. Your ship spins and fires constantly. If you feel that you are about to be hit by a floating mine, press your switch to quickly hyperspace to another random point. Later levels see you having to contend with magnetic and fireball loaded mines.

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Atari Sesame Street Revolution (1983)

Atari Sesame Street launch poster from 1983.

Thought I'd post this up in the light of the new excellent looking Kinect Sesame Street game. Back in 1983 Atari launched a small range of educational games for use with their specialised "Kids Controller" aimed at three to seven year olds.

How mixing two of the best things from North America (Atari and Sesame Street) wasn't more of a success, I'll never know.

As far as I know, the Kids Controller was the first commercially available games controller designed with extra accessibility in mind. Can't decide on Cookie Monster or Big Bird at the moment, but one if not both will be available to play at the Replay Expo 2011

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REPLAY 2011 accessible gaming

SpecialEffect OneSwitch Flyer for the Accessible Gaming stand at REPLAY 2011 Blackpool.

"Play accessible retro games at the Blackpool REPLAY EXPO 2011 SpecialEffect stand this November the 5th and 6th.

From Atari to Xbox 360, there will be all manner of weird and wonderful games to play, including: Duck racing, banger racing, dream-like running games, boxing kangaroos, an un-game, one-switch dance mat games and more. Play just for fun, or take on our mini-challenges to win retro sweets.

Find out more at SpecialEffect.org.uk, GameBase.info or e-mail barrie@specialeffect.org.uk. Tickets are available to buy on-line from replayexpo.com.

With thanks to OneSwitch.org.uk, Trabasack and Retro-GameShop.nl for loaned or donated equipment [to] SpecialEffect - Registered Charity No. 1121004".

Download: Black Flyer or the White Flyer.

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Techno Talk 2011

Wii Fit board with Vivify wheelchair ramp.

Between October the 4th and 5th, OneSwitch (i.e. me) had the great pleasure of being invited back to be a part of the Techno Talk event at the Rare Breeds Centre in Kent.

Amongst some hugely fun and interesting activities going on, were a huge array of switch equipment that The Old Railway School had procured from various sources. There were switch accessible cameras, vertical pinball, a superb train-set, an inflatable Blo-Bot (in need of some TLC as it kept deflating) and switch adapted cuddly toys.

Gaming wise there was Whacka Monty Mole, Guitar Hero, Mini and full Golf, Switch Lanes bowling, Peggle, Forza 3, Fotonica and more. I was particularly impressed by the Wii Fit board that Will Wade (one of the organisers) had discovered and bought in.

Apart from getting my car locked in a multi-story car-park late at night, it was a brilliant time all round I felt. Long may it continue.

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Want It. Can't Have It.

Beautiful 1969 BMW Spicup, open-top sports car in green with lime-green leather interior.

There just aren't enough cars with lime green interiors. I like...



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