Treasures from a Far Away Land

A few weeks ago, a package arrived at my home from none other than Rob over at I Played the Game.  He had graciously offered me a few of his NES games he was willing to part with and truly, I am so honoured and grateful to have even been a thought on someone’s radar about old games finding a new home, nevermind to actually be the recipient of some very fantastic games!  I really owe a big, heartfelt thank you to him (thank you!!!).  If you haven’t checked out his blog yet or it’s been awhile, you definitely should head over that way.  There are many thoughtful and well-written articles that cover everything from interesting lists with hilarious titles to in-depth and intelligent perspectives on many different games.  I spend a great deal of time reading things there, so go.  Stop reading this and come back in a while.  You won’t be sorry!

The games that were sent to me were from the PAL region.  This would normally be a problem because of region locking (I’m part of the North American NTSC region), but thankfully we have a top-loader NES that is able to play games from all regions pretty effortlessly.  The downside to the top-loader version of the console is that it only outputs in RF, which is graphically inferior to the composite video output option available on the Toaster style NES.  The NES Toasters are region locked with the use of a lock-out chip on the electronic board.  The chip makes games from outside the NTSC region blink on and off like a game that’s inserted incorrectly would.  Conveniently for us, some other humans on the planet have discovered a lock-out chip modification that can be performed to eliminate lock-out altogether.  This is something that we might try in the near future because we can, so why not?

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If you couldn’t tell from the photo above, the games that arrived were Burai Fighter, Solar Jetman and The Battle of Olympus.  The cartridges were in absolutely beautiful condition with barely any signs of use or age on them!  They looked like they could’ve come right out of the box and into my hands the day I pulled them from the shipping envelope.  They were also sent over with sleeves, which I’m always happy to have.  That’ll help to keep them in their pristine condition while on the shelf between plays!  The photos simply just do not convey how well-loved and well taken care of these games were.

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Since one of my favourite games on this Earth is Faxanadu for the NES, getting my hands on The Battle of Olympus was a real treat.  I’ve often searched high and low for other games of a similar style to Faxanadu.  Prerequisites included towns, nonplayable characters that provide cryptic hints, RPG elements, upgrading equipment/armour/weapons, etc.  I have only been able to come up with a short list (with some help, of course!): Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link, and The Battle of Olympus!  I’m sure there are others, so if you can think of any, please let me know.  I have yet to find something that’s a perfect match!  Because The Battle of Olympus is made in the same engine as Zelda 2 with a focus on  people and beasts from Greek mythology, it makes for a great little game with a lot of heart.  I’ve also heard it’s tough for a first-time player, and since difficult is right up my alley, I think I’ll really enjoy this one!

Speaking of difficult games, Burai Fighter was another game I had never heard of prior to starting up this blog.  I believe it was Rob himself who had mentioned the game to me long ago in a comment section far, far away, though I can’t quite recall the context now.  Either way, it’s a very difficult side/vertical scrolling shooter that involves precision and practice to master and has often been likened to Silver Surfer for the NES.  I’ve watched a few review videos on it and am up for the challenge.  I used to be good at the turbo tunnel section of Battletoads as a kid, so if I could make it through that, hopefully I’ll be able to sharpen my skills with this game, too.

Solar Jetman is a game I’ve always been curious about but have never been able to find out my way very easily.  The game is praised for its physics mechanics as you play as a little ship that has to use a rocket to propel yourself around different planets while searching for equipment and fuel.  In a few review videos I watched, people seemed to maneuver with ease.  When I was testing out the game, I think I lasted about 30 seconds before exploding my ship, which was quickly followed by my little spaceman’s death by projectile bombardment.  Let’s just say I have some work to do before I even attempt to stream this game so I don’t make a fool of myself on the internet.

So there you have it.  These are my first PAL region games, and I can’t express enough how thankful I am to have them in my possession.  I’m looking forward to seeing how the NES lock-out chip mod goes.  I’ll keep you all posted!  In the meantime, I’ll be practicing!

Thanks in advance to the lovely author of I Played the Game for these future gaming memories I will make, and thanks to all of you for reading and supporting me in this retro game collecting/playing endeavour.  I’m constantly humbled by this wonderful community.

Enjoy what’s left of your weekends, and thanks for reading!

-GG

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Genesis Overload

Recently, it’s like the clouds have opened up and started pouring out games and accessories for the Sega Genesis.  I can’t complain since I grew up with one and had the same few games for most of my childhood.  We rented a few games pretty regularly like World of Illusion and Toejam and Earl: Panic on Funkotron, but my staples were Sonic 2, Bubsy, Bonkers, and a few others.

The first bunch of stuff I stumbled upon was from a classifieds ad.  Someone was selling a bunch of loose Genesis games as well as two blue light guns for the system.  The light guns are becoming a rarer and rarer commodity to find at a good price, especially the player 2 gun, which is pink.  Normally, the pink gun connects via a link cable to the blue one, but if you conveniently have two blue guns, you can modify the second to act like the elusive pink player 2 gun.  I knew this would be something my boyfriend would be interested in.  The guy selling wanted $50 for everything including the two guns, which was a steal.  I wanted to surprise my better half, so I met up with the guy alone.  He was only mildly shady, but the transaction went well.  The games smelled a bit like cigarettes and mustiness, but a quick wipe with a soapy cloth got rid of that.

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Apart from the light guns being a high point of this lot of stuff, I was also excited for Road Rash and Road Rash II.  I’ve got a soft spot for Super Hang On, and these games are a fun extension of that kind of gameplay.  In Super Hang On when other bikers run into you, you have no recourse.  On the contrary in Road Rash, you can exact your revenge on those that would see you defeated with brute force!  Given that we picked up the light guns, Lethal Enforcers was also a great buy.  I’m not much for gun games, but I might give that one a shot sometime (pun totally intended.)  I don’t know much about Urban Strike except that if it’s anything like Desert or Jungle Strike, it’s hard as hell.

My boyfriend took the initiative to try to modify one of the blue guns to make it function is a player 2 gun.  He followed a guide provided by Mark Wylie, and it worked like a charm.  It involved removing the plug that would normally go into the controller slot and replacing it with a registered jack (RJ)45 – think the connector on the end of a telephone cable but with 6 wires inside instead of 4.

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Below is a photo of the end product.  The red wire coming from the gun on the right is the one that was added on and now plugs into the base of the gun handle grip on the player 1 gun on the left.   Two-player capability is a must for proper enjoyment of some light gun games on the Genesis.  I’m so happy this worked out!

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We also had the opportunity to visit a weekend flea market recently.  Among many antiques and loads of old books and DVDs in one vendor’s booth, there were a few Sega games available for extremely reasonable prices.  First, we found a beat up copy of NBA Jam in its box as well as a pristine, complete copy of Golden Axe II.  The Golden Axe II cartridge looks like it has never even been played.  There’s not a single scuff or scratch to the label.  We also scooped up a loose copy of Sonic 3D blast was also there, but we left behind a copy of Jurassic Park, a game I have never enjoyed playing – there’s a small story here, but I’ll spare you the details for the time being.  My boyfriend and I both have childhood copies of the game, so it didn’t make sense to hoard that one too.

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The most exciting thing we saw in this particular lot was a RAM cart for the Sega CD.  In recent months we had purchased one from a local hock shop for $30 after unsuccessfully trying to get the price down.  Our negotiating chip was that it had been sitting in their cabinet since we started going to that store (literally years).  Of course at the time, the hock shop vendor insisted on double-checking the price online and scoffed at our offer of around $20.  The price on eBay had surged up to $50-$60, and he bluntly told us to take it at the price it was or he’d jack up the price if we left it behind.  Feeling like we had our backs to the wall, we had bought the RAM cart and felt lucky to have found one.  Well let me tell you – the one we found at the flea market was an absolute steal for the low, low price of $5!  We picked it up hoping that it worked, and sure enough, it does!  We checked out the saved games on the cartridge, and there were some saves from some pretty expensive games on there: Lunar 2 and Popful Mail.  Hopefully we didn’t miss those at some point.  We only get out to that flea market every few months, so I’m sure we’ve missed a few things over the winter. We’ll be sure to check back more often now that the weather is warming up!  Well sort of.  We haven’t gotten a dumping of snow in about a week or so.

In other fantastic news, the first swap of the year is coming up in a few weeks.  I’ve been compiling my list of things I want to track down there.  If you could all start sending your good vibes my way, I’d appreciate it!  Here’s a short list of some of the things I’d like to find:

SNES: Brain Lord; Breath of Fire II; Secret of Evermore; Gunman’s Proof

Sega Genesis: Shining Force II; Phantasy Star IV; Wonder Boy in Monster World

Sega Master System: Zillion; Master of Darkness

GameCube/Dreamcast: Skies of Arcadia (Legends)

DS: Super Princess Peach

It’s an ambitious list, but who knows what I’ll find?

Hope you’re all well!  Thanks for reading!

-GG

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Jackpot?

There are a few games I’ve been wanting to own for a long while now but haven’t gone out of my way to find.  Most of them are rarer and don’t come up often in the flesh, and others are much more common but are heinously expensive.  When I’ve seen the more common ones at swaps or on the local classifieds site, I can’t really justify dishing out so much money for one game and often get blown off while trying to haggle.  I’ve always put buying these games off in hopes of finding them for $2 at a yard sale or something, but so far no good!  This is why I’m a big fan of package deals when possible.  Sometimes things work out pretty nicely for me when everything comes out of the woodwork at the same time.  Last weekend was one of those times.

We travelled to a nearby town since we had some good driving weather and did our usual rounds at the usual shops we like to go to.  We were met by empty shelves at the thrift stores and ignorance at some other pawn shops.  Just as my faith in mankind was waning, my boyfriend reminded me of my new favourite store in that city – I had almost forgotten about this awesome store that deals in all forms of geekery and has recently taken the plunge into wheeling and dealing retro video games.  We arrived and after making nice with the store owner, I found myself totally blown away by the fact that three games I’d been searching for were all in the same place at the same time, and in beautiful shape.

The first was Chrono Trigger.  This is my common but heinously expensive game that I’ve been wanting to buy on the SNES since practically forever ago.  The other thing is that I’ve already played it on the Final Fantasy Chronicles compilation for PS1, but the load times between battles were painfully slow.  They were so slow in fact that it really took away from my experience playing it, and that’s really the main reason why I’ve never started a new game plus.  This is not an issue on the SNES version at all.  In the past year or so, I haven’t seen the SNES version anywhere below $180, and hell if I was going to pay that much for it!  The shop vendor had the game marked at $180, but it came with a custom plastic case.  To me, I could’ve taken or left the case, but I couldn’t get away from the flawless condition.  I started my game pile with that one and continued shopping.  Behold its loveliness!  The label is a tiny bit crooked, but it’s in immaculate shape.

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A rare game I’ve wanted to pick up for eventual perusal is Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber.  This game is one that I’ve never actually seen in person at a swap or at a store, and it was also more exciting for me since I had already purchased its predecessor on the SNES – Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen – this past summer.  The game was published by Atlus, a company notorious for having small release numbers for many of their games.  Like Chrono Trigger above, the condition of the game was near flawless so I scooped it up as well.  I’m really interested in trying out some tactical RPGs, and from what I’ve read and watched about Ogre Battle 64, it’s one of the very best of the genre, if at not least one of the very best games for the N64.

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One of the games I was very excited to see in person was Super Adventure Island II for the SNES.  I’m not very quiet about how much I love the Adventure Island series!  When I picked up Super Adventure Island (also for SNES) this past summer, I felt a little disappointed.  The game was really short and paled in comparison to my favourite of the series, Adventure Island II on the NES.  Although it was true to many of the themes in previous games in the series, it stood out for all the wrong reasons with the exception of its phenomenal soundtrack.  I had heard about Super Adventure Island II and how it diverged from the usual “find fruit and kill things” formula.  It was supposed to be more akin to games like Metroid where you had to discover new skills and abilities to move forward in areas you couldn’t get to or through before.  There are also many RPG elements in the game including a weapons and armour system, currency, and magic!  I don’t know how an Adventure Island game had managed to converge with my favourite genre, but it did.  And it was there in front of my very face in the store, again in the best condition I’ve ever seen it.  It might as well have been sparkling under a spotlight with many angels singing, or something similarly cliche.  I added it to my game pile as well.

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The other two games I picked up were for disc-based consoles, namely Playstation and Playstation 2.  I found Alundra 2 there, as well as Star Ocean: Till the End of Time.  I own Alundra and recently bought a reproduction cartridge of Star Ocean for SNES, so these two games made a lot of sense to buy.  Alundra 2 came complete while the Star Ocean game was missing its manual.  I was a little freaked out after getting home when I noticed that Star Ocean was the French version (it said so quietly on the back instead of plainly on the front where it should’ve been stated.)  I don’t speak French and was hoping that it wasn’t a French language version of the game, and thankfully it wasn’t!  I dodged a bullet there!  I honestly don’t know what’s so French about it, but I’m guessing there’s some option somewhere inside to change the language.

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I’m loving the hint line numbers in the CD case for Alundra 2.  It’s hard to see in the photo, but it’s $0.99 US/min and $1.49/min in Canada.  I guess our dollar has always been garbage!

The last thing we found was my boyfriend’s pick, a Sega Genesis game called Flashback: The Quest for Identity. This was a game that neither of us had heard of but decided to bite the bullet on because of the awesome price.  When we got home and I sat down to test out the game, I was shocked and appalled to see that it was made with the engine for Prince of Persia, one of my personal most-hated games of all time.  I won’t get into why I despise Prince of Persia so much for the moment, but I can say in testing Flashback, it brought all my feelings of rage and frustration back in a few moments of trying to maneuver the main character through the stage.  The box and game were in good shape, so I certainly can’t complain.

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After seeing my giant pile building up, I was a little worried about the bottom line for all these wonderful games.  After some haggling, I ended up paying $400 for everything.  If your jaw has hit the floor, mine is down there with yours too.  Though I didn’t get anywhere near a screamin’ deal for everything here, I did get below what I’d normally pay at a swap or online, and I had been squirreling away money all winter long for an occasion such as this.  The store itself is also a local business that has been a part of the city for at least 30 years, so it feels better supporting them than it does slimy hock/pawn shop dealers trying to flip games so fast it makes your head spin.  There are definitely some great games here, and I’m looking forward to taking some of them for a spin in the future.

Here’s a nice family photo of all the games together.  You can also see the Chrono Trigger custom case if you were wondering what it was all about.

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In other excellent news, we have finally ordered a piece of adult furniture for our Nerd Room to replace the awful Walmart shelf that has been housing our games for the past year or so.  We have a true hardwood shelf on its way which will be much more long-lasting and aesthetically pleasing.  Our current shelf is warped and bowed and comes apart in two pieces if you lift from the top (I assure you it’s not supposed to!) so it will be going on a permanent vacation to the sitting room with all my books that currently take up shelf space in the Nerd Room.  Gaaaaaames.

I also wanted to thank The Shameful Narcissist and AmbiGaming for the wonderful blog award nominations.  I haven’t forgotten.  I’m just horribly bad at keeping up with writing with work in full swing and other ongoing projects.  I promise to get a post out soonish!

I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend.  I have more things to post about and hope to get writing about them all in the next week or so!

Thanks for reading,

-GG

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Atari 2600 Composite Mod Kit

Even in my youngest gaming years at the age of 3 or 4, I never had the pleasure of playing an Atari 2600.  Most of my childhood friends had the NES or the SNES, and I was born just a little too late to catch the Atari 2600 bandwagon.  It wasn’t until last April when we got a huge console/game lot that I ended up getting one (rather, six!) of my own to try out, and as you might already know, we recently acquired a seventh.  Because I had access to a Commodore Vic-20 growing up, I was familiar with some of the games common to both consoles like Breakout, Frogger, and Choplifter.  I was excited to see how they had been translated to another system.  When we got that large lot of Atari stuff and I tried out a few games, I was left feeling a little disappointed.  Though the familiar games were okay, they didn’t compare to the experience I had on the Vic-20.  Also, lots of the games from my childhood Vic-20 that I had adored and was hopeful to rediscover were nowhere to be found (Dungeon, Gorf, Radar RatRace, etc.).  Simply put, I had no nostalgia for many of the Atari games we got.  On the contrary, my boyfriend had been exceptionally excited about getting them because he did grow up with the system.  He’s a few years older than me and had siblings even older than himself.  He described how at one point in time, his family had had a hockey bag full of games that were given away to a family friend and were never seen again.  Getting the Ataris and the huge pile of games was really important to him.

Something important to me was wanting to feel more appreciative of the games we received.  Though I can’t build my own nostalgia around these experiences, one desire that I did have was to be able to play Atari games with other people and hear about their love for the system and the games we own.  I wanted to do this via live streaming on Twitch, or capturing gameplay and uploading it online.  Unfortunately for me, the Atari 2600 has a default signal output in RF which is not easily recorded using my conventional means using a capture card.  Though many people were probably not looking for a different ouput option for streaming, the RF signal is not readily accepted by many modern televisions either.  Thankfully many people before us were looking for a solution to this issue and found one: a modification that installs composite video capability!

We went on eBay to find a composite video upgrade kit for the 6 switch Atari 2600 (light sixer) and came across one here.  The modification was pretty simple, and the instructions can be found at this link if anyone is interested.  My boyfriend and his trusty soldering iron did all the tough work here, and below you can see a photo of the modded Atari 2600 (bottom) compared to an unmodded one (top).  The hardest part was drilling holes into the chassis of the console for the jacks.  They’re a little crooked and unevenly spaced, but they work!

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Though we have lots of Atari 2600 games already, I’ve recently tracked down some interesting ones.  One was Swordquest FireWorld, an RPG. I bought this game with the intention of passing it along to a friend.  With no manual or idea of how to play, I wandered around this game for a little while and was perplexed and disgruntled until I watched a few minutes of an LP online.  Needless to say, without the manual, this game would be pretty difficult!

I also picked up Plaque Attack, a hilarious game where you play as what I’m assuming is a tube of toothpaste that shoots paste lasers at various food products, thus preventing them from landing on the teeth in the gums on either side of the screen.  I laughed so much while playing this because of the pure absurdity of it all, but there’s something so foreboding about the noise that plays when you fail, the tooth turns yellow, and consequently disappears forever.  As someone who just recently had root canal work done for the first time, this was a very hard-hitting experience!

Kung Fu Superkicks seems like it’d be awesome, but for some reason it won’t insert in the Atari slot.  It’s exactly the same as the other cartridges we have.  We even have a Telegames Atari, and it doesn’t fit into that one either.  I have no idea what the problem is, so unfortunately it remains unplayed for the moment.

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I also picked up a few games produced by Zellers, a now non-existent Canadian discount store similar to Walmart.  These games included Earth Attack and Dragon Treasure.  Earth Attack is a clone of Defender, where you play as a space ship trying to rescue abducted people as they get taken up to space in alien spaceships.  In Dragon Treasure, you’re probably Bilbo Baggins trying to sneak into the dragon’s lair to steal all of its goodies, including helmets, gold, chalices, etc.  It’s a fun game with faster dragons each round that shoot fire at you constantly.

I have to say that the artwork on these two game cartridges is really interesting compared to many others I’ve run across.  They’re beautiful!  The images are a bit washed out since I’ve taken the photos under lamplight, but in person they’re very vibrant and colourful.  I’m pretty sad though.  I accidentally tore off a bit of each game’s label while trying to remove the price tags.  The edges came up easily, but it tore at the center of the price sticker.  Sigh.  It’s not as if they were perfect to begin with, but still!  I hate destroying the past!

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Last but not least, I found a game called Frostbite that was recommended to me by The Deviot.  You play as a stereotypical Canadian trying to build an igloo.  You accumulate ice  blocks as you jump from row to row of floating ice in Frogger-like fashion.  You run up against evil crabs, bears, clams and water fowl that are trying to thwart your efforts to stay warm while the temperature is continually dropping.  It’s very fun and very challenging for me as a first-time player, so I think it’ll be fun to practice!

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I think it goes without saying that with the composite mod and some excellent games for the Atari 2600, sooner or later I’ll be doing a stream or recording some gameplay.  I’m very happy with how the Atari mod turned out and I’m looking forward to making some great memories playing some of these games with others who have nostalgia and a broader appreciation for these games.

In the meantime though, it’s off to fight the good fight against my Sega Master System RPG backlog.  I just finished up Ys: The Vanished Omens last night and am hoping to start into Phantasy Star next.  Hope you’re all enjoying the weekend!

Thanks for reading!

-GG

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Forward in Time – (Almost) New Generation Gaming

I will be the first person to admit that I don’t really have a clue about what’s new in gaming.  You lovely people post so many excellent reviews for games I’ve barely heard of, and I’m often left scratching my head after reading, wondering how I’ve gotten to be so out of touch.  Well, that’s all about to change (maybe only a little?) because I got a text from a friend that works at one of the local thrift shops a few days ago with news of a modern console: a Playstation 3 *thunderous applause*!   At $20 with no cords, controllers or games, the price seemed decent.  There were a few there to choose from, so we opted to go for the one that seemed backwards compatible – it was the heaviest by far, and also had the telltale 4 USB ports on the front rather than 2, which was a cost reduction revision made in later models of the system.

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Because we had an excess of Playstation 2 connectors hanging around, we were able to get the machine running without much issue.  When we plugged the console in, much to our dismay we discovered that all of the text was in Japanese.  With a snowball’s chance in hell of deciphering Japanese and no controllers to navigate the menus, we decided on a backdoor route and plugged in a USB keyboard and mouse which worked wonderfully.  After consulting the internet for some hints on where to find the language settings and successfully changing it to English, we were in business.  Tommy, the previous owner of this PS3 hadn’t bothered to delete his content from the machine before donating it.  We were privy to a number of treats in the form of his photos and videos (don’t worry, we didn’t go through them, but we can’t delete them yet!), and a bunch of music.  We wanted to test the machine to see if it would overheat at all, but since the PS3 won’t accept regular MP3s from a USB stick, we had to use some of the music stored on the machine.  We picked the first song in the list and had the torturous experience pleasure of listening to a song called “S on my Chest” by DJ Khaled, featuring Lil Wayne and Birdman.  This experience brought our testing to a grinding halt.  In case there was dust or sand in the disc drive, I didn’t want to put any of my discs into the machine without it being cleaned first.  To continue our quest of gettin this thing going, my boyfriend went about one of his favourite hobbies: taking machines apart, cleaning them, and putting them back together.  Below is a photo of all the machine’s guts.

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The machine was absolutely disgusting.  Every interior surface, even parts shielded by exterior pieces, were covered in a yellowish-brown sandy dust.  Here are some photos of the awfulness.

After cleaning everything carefully and thoroughly, new thermal paste was applied to the CPUs and the machine was reassembled with a few screws left over.  To test the machine, I watched the first third of season 12 of King of the Hill.  The machine did not overheat or set on fire, though the fan did kick in quite often!  We drilled a hole the width of the fan (about 5 inches) in the bottom of the chassis to allow for more air exchange and circulation to keep things a bit cooler.

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We also tried both PS and PS2 games to validate our hunch about the backwards compatibility, and sure enough it plays both generations of games!  From what I understand, later PS3 models were only backwards compatible with PS games, so we definitely lucked out.  Another cool thing we discovered was that it is the 80GB model.  Most early PS3s were only 40GB or smaller, so it was a happy accident that we picked up one of the best and roomiest versions of this console.

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For anyone wondering why I haven’t taken the plunge into newer Sony consoles earlier than now, it was purely a boycott on my part.  As someone who stands firmly on principle and good customer service values, to have a new console using the same type of media as the previous generations and not have backwards compatibility was unacceptable to me.  Since I never buy consoles new, by the time I was interested in buying a PS3, the backwards compatibility was no more so I decided to never buy one new.  However, at a price of $20 and a little love and elbow grease, we are now the proud owners of the machine I’ve always wanted.  Maybe I’ll even invest in my first blu-ray and just go completely topsy-turvy.

The question of the day is this: what are your PS3 recommendations?  I only own Little Big Planet so far, but I’ve heard that there are many excellent RPGs and other types of games available for the system.  I’ll be pouring back through many of your previous reviews with a new perspective for some ideas as well.

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Thanks in advance for any suggestions and for reading!  I hope you’re all enjoying this wonderful long weekend if you’ve got one at your disposal!  Happy Family Day to my fellow Canadians (and belated to anyone overseas).  Happy President’s Day to those of you in the US!  If you’re celebrating a holiday that I don’t know about today, happy holidays to you as well 🙂

-GG

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Many, Many Dirty Games

I’ve finally had some time to clean up that filthy, filthy game lot I mentioned in my previous post.  Some folks have asked for a before photo of some of the stuff we bought, but unfortunately I’m really bad for taking those.  There’s no particular reason why, but those pictures just never seem to get taken!

As you already know, we picked up a Sega Master System.  The console was in excellent shape.  So excellent in fact, its protective sticker film on the console branding (similar to what you get on new monitors or other screened devices) was still intact!  It was only when we started scrubbing the outer shell in the sink that we noticed it starting to come up, so that part of the console is practically brand new!  Along with the console, we got two controllers and the light gun, as well as three games: Altered Beast, Enduro Racer, and Action Fighter.  I have never played any of these games, but I did watch some videos on Enduro Racer and Action Fighter.  To me, Enduro Racer is somewhere between Excite Bike  (NES) and Super Hang On (Genesis), while Action Fighter is an interesting adaptation of the gameplay from Spy Hunter (NES).  All my boyfriend keeps saying to me whenever I ask him about Altered Beast is, “Rise from your graaaaave…” in a spooky voice, but I don’t know anything else about it at this point.

Below is a photo of our SMS spoils.  Altered Beast was the only game that came with its manual, and unfortunately due to the fact that it’s one of the manuals that’s just paper with no glossy cover, it still feels grungy despite my best efforts to clean it up.

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The second part of the game lot was an NES with some games.  This console was also disgusting, so we threw the non-electronic components into the dishwasher for a pre-scrubbing.  The NES with all its grooves and crevices is exceptionally hard to clean, and a good run in the dishwasher got rid of much of the dust and grime without  me having to set off my allergies for no good reason.  If an NES did come with dishwasher instructions, they’d likely be “top rack only”.

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After the cleansing and reassembly, my boyfriend tested everything out to find it in working condition.  The console came with two controllers, a light gun and five games: Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt, Super Mario Bros. 3, R.C. Pro-Am, Tetris and Dr. Mario.  Believe it or not, I’m walking on air, I never thought I could feel so free… there’s actually a game here that I don’t own yet, and that’s Tetris!  I’ve got it for the Game Boy, but despite having a fairly expansive NES collection by this point, I don’t own the NES cartridge.  I’m planning on keeping that and giving the rest of the games and the console/accessories away to a friend of mine who has been hankering for an NES for a while.  Don’t worry – I don’t tend to sit on a million extra consoles and hoard them away.  I send them back out into the wild for others to enjoy!

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The last thing we picked up was an Atari 2600, and it came with a few cool accessories, some paddles, and one joystick.  Truthfully, we already own 6 different kinds of Atari 2600s: A heavy sixer (one of the original Sunnyvale ones!), two light sixers (one of them is the Sears Telegames version and is missing its power cord altogether) a Darth Vader, and two different Atari 2600 Juniors.  As preservationists at heart, we didn’t want to modify any of these since every single one of them was different.  The new Atari 2600 we stumbled upon is another light sixer that we are hoping to modify with a composite output kit.  The Atari 2600 normally only outputs in RF which is not only an ugly signal, but also doesn’t allow us to do any streaming or game capturing.  I didn’t grow up with an Atari at all, so I’m looking forward to being able to enjoy it on stream with people once we get the mod kit installed!

Here’s a photo of the console and the various controllers we got along with it, as well as the regular RF connector.

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Along with the console came 19 games with some fun storage accessories!  One of them was a plastic unit that can hold 12 games that also has a manual slot, and the other was a binder-esque storage container that can fit 8 games.  Both of them are super cool considering that the rest of our Atari games we own are stored in a giant clear plastic container.  We don’t have nearly enough shelves to display them, so they stay tucked away for the time being.  Below is a photo of the storage items.  I absolutely adore the branding on the game binder.  It’s a little faded, but it’ll look really great on the shelf!

We were also fortunate to get a wonderful pile of manuals with the games, as well as some Atari game catalogues.  As someone who adores old game art and manuals in general, these were a wonderful addition to our Atari collection.

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Though it was hell on earth to get everything tidied up, it’s wonderful seeing it all come together in a post, and in the Nerd Room.  We paid $150 in total for everything, which in my humble opinion was an excellent deal considering everything we got.  Now, it’s just a matter of going through and adding it all to the inventory.  I swear it’s never-ending, but who’s complaining?  I love me some video games.

I hope you’re all looking forward to a wonderful Family Day weekend.  It’s supposed be super sunny and get above zero here, so I am very happy!  Enjoy, everyone!

Thanks for reading, as always.

-GG

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His Power Level is Over 9000

We bought a console lot with a few games the other day, but I can’t post much about it yet since we’re still in the process of cleaning everything up.  The seller drove a long while to meet us in our city for once, and he came bearing a box of stuff.  The seller was quite apologetic for the dusty condition of the items, but we didn’t think much of it until we got the box home and started pulling things out to have a look.  Every single thing was covered in a thick layer of dust – not the light sprinkling you might get while keeping your console out on a table in your home, but rather the thick, black-grey dust that accumulates in damp basements that comes off in tufts, sticking to and coating your skin along with everything else it touches.  It also didn’t help that the bottom of the box was filled with sawdust and cat hair, either.  All in all, it was a huge mess.

Dust and debris tends to get into consoles and games during long storage periods, and this particular lot was no different.  The Sega Master System was especially gross, so my boyfriend decided to take it apart and scrub its innards.  We carefully cleaned all the ridges in the plastic casing with a toothbrush and wiped everything down with some warm soapy water, but the circuit board was absolutely filthy.  Since I don’t know up from down when it comes to electronics, my boyfriend skedaddled with the circuit board to his soldering area to take a better look at things.  He discovered a loose capacitor and fixed that up, but while he was manipulating the board to scrub everything clean, he accidentally put too much pressure on the board and heard one of the vias pop off.  Vias are the small copper rings around the board holes where you solder on capacitors and other components, and they lead into a trace (the flattened “wires” that look like pathways) that transmit the signal to a part of the machine.  From what we could tell, the connection would have normally gone to the A/V multiport of the system, but now the connection was broken.  To fix this, my boyfriend wired up a new connection superficially to bypass the issue.  In the photo below, you can see the little green wire piece soldered onto the two pins, with the damaged via looking “rusty” around the right hole.  You can also see the trace that we bypassed on the board between the two pins the new wire is soldered onto.

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In the photos below, you can see the wire job on the underside of the entire Master System board on the bottom edge, and a closeup of everything from a top-down perspective.  I’m so glad he noticed the break, because otherwise we might have had faulty audio/video and not have known the cause of it.  Old electronics are so fragile, but I’m also going to assume that my boyfriend’s power level has somehow gotten over 9000! How else could he have quite literally singlehandedly destroyed something so badass like a Master System?

The soldering iron we bought a few months ago was one of the best investments we’ve made in a long while.  It has gotten us out of some potentially sticky situations!  I still have yet to order a billion replacement batteries for all my copies of Pokemon Gold, though…

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Luckily for us, the fix worked.  We hooked the Sega Master System up to the TV to test it out and popped in Ys: The Vanished Omens (or if you’re this game’s misspelled label, Y’s) because it was handy.  To the sounds of that sweet title screen music, we rejoiced and welcomed our resuscitated SMS to its new home!

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The internal layout of the SMS is nice and simple, and I think my favourite part has to be the green power light!  There’s a hole in the heat shield for it to stick out through so it can reach the power indicator on the top of the console.  Things like that are always reminding me of the humble beginnings of gaming before internal hard drives and downloads and all of those newfangled modern day gaming add-ons.  I’ve seen the insides of more consoles than I’d care to admit, and the Sega Master System was by far the most pleasing to me.  Nice and straightforward.

I hope you are all off to a wonderful weekend start.  Thanks very much for spending some time to read this!

-GG

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