Raine is one of my favourite arcade emulators. In technical terms, it replicates M68000, M68020 and Z80-based hardware; in game-playing terms, this means you can play classics such as Arkanoid, Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands and Strider on your PC. However, the majority of Raine's games are unfamiliar to me, and I've often thought that a comprehensive guide to the huge range of coin-ops it emulates would round off the whole project nicely... So it was a pleasant surprise to discover that Raine now does have its own online review magazine; and moreover, that magazine is influenced by my beloved organ, Zzap! The newcomer's name is Zzap!Raine, and though I'm pleased to see it resurrected in this way, I was curious to know what made its creators turn to a long-dead Commodore magazine for their inspiration. I contacted ZR's head honcho, Stefano Ferrari (aka Zaxxon1), for more details...

LM: Tell me about the Zzap!Raine team...
Stefano FerrariThe reviewers are all Italian: Liliana Vitalini and I come from from Milan, and Paolo Facchini (Roy Jones) is based in Siena. Emmanuel Anne (aka Tux, one of the Raine developers) lives in Nantes, France, and offers comments about game bugs in the Emu-Quality section of the site. Marco Castiglioni (Redhot) began his games-playing life with an early Pong console, before moving on to the Vic20 and C64, and now won't touch any computer that doesn't have a keyboard. Paolo "il Timido" Nicoletti, who writes the Blast From The Past section, hails from Turin—he's a web developer, as well as being responsible for the online quiz Emutrivia, a Monkey Island-style adventure, and MMD (Mame Manager Deluxe, a Mame DOS front-end). After downloading his first emulator in 1997, Zzap!Raine's resident designer and translator MADrigal started the CreatiVEmu project, then went on to become webmaster of the Italian Nintendo videogaming network, N!Zone. None of the main reviewing team has worked in the games industry before: I have some experience in the computing field, Liliana is a graphic designer, and Paolo is studying at university. The actual game reviews are created by me, with Liliana's help; the three of us write the comments.

LM: Are you all fans of the original Zzap!?
Paolo Nicoletti, Marco Castiglioni, MADrigal and myself are the only fans of the original magazine—the others had never even heard of it before. I started in computing with the Vic20, then the C64 and C128.

LM: What was it about Zzap! that inspired you to create your own version?
Everything, actually! It was different from the other magazines: the "friendly" interaction with the reader in the reviews; the funny freehand sketches of the reviewers (and their various expressions); the quality of the features, the impressive covers... Like I said—everything! Before I played any game for the C64 I first had to read Zzap!'s review: the overall mark determined whether or not I bought it. I've almost always agreed with their ratings. The only exception was Xevious: it got around 40% I think, but I bought it anyway, and didn't regret it.

LM: What is your opinion of Raine? How does it compare to other emulators?
Of all the arcade emulators, Raine is the fastest. It has a friendly GUI, sometimes to the detriment of faithful emulation of the original game. But Raine's aim is to make games as playable as possible; whereas MAME's goal is to reproduce original games as faithfully as possible, with less emphasis on playability. Put simply, the Taito F3 system in MAME is really heavy and slow when running on computers slower than 2GHz... As for the rest, many good emulators exist, and compare very well with both Raine and MAME. For example, I use CCS64 which is the best emulator for the C64, as well as ZSNES (for the Super Nintendo), and VisualBoy Advance (for the GBA). The only drawbacks they have are that it's not easy to set them up, and it's also difficult to find a game when you don't remember the name of it, because they all lack a screenshot preview facility. These emulators run games very accurately though, and are also fast—except for VisualBoy Advance, which can be a little slow at times.

LM: What are your Top 5 Raine games?
Bubble Memories
Darius Gaiden
Puzzle Bobble
Kingdom Grand Prix
Bubble Bobble

LM: What are your Top 5 C64 games?
Bubble Bobble
Football manager
Ghosts 'n' Goblins

...So there you have it: the Zzap!Raine story, straight from the horse's mouth... Not that I'm implying Stefano or any member of his team is a horse, or any other manner of quadruped... No matter. I recommend that anyone who has an interest in Zzap!, Raine, or Zzap!Raine should visit his site immediately. And I mean now... Go on, clear off. You're not wanted here anymore. I've got work to do—ferrets don't feed themselves, you know. LM


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