Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yard Sale Adventures: Nintendo 64 stuff, 19 Inch TV

New N64 stuff.

Today's adventure comes from a yard sale rather than a store.  For $40, I picked up another N64 (which will be put up on eBay shortly), a Rumble Pak, a memory card, a memory expansion and six games: Quake II, Goldeneye 007, Duke Nukem 64, Duke Nukem: Zero Hour, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and NFL Quarterback Club 99 (which will likely be sold with the N64).  Looking at files on the memory card shows that the previous owner also had Perfect Dark at some point - too bad that wasn't included.

Two of these things are not like the others.

Also included in the $40 price, a 19-inch tube TV.  It isn't great - there's a zone in the lower right where the color is completely wrong and it buzzes a bit, but it is good enough to give me a start on my new classic game room.

The Famicomplex Museum of Video Game History welcomes you.

Well, technically, my wife keeps reminding me that it's actually the guest bedroom, not my game room.  I say, 'potato potahto'.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Craigslist Finds - A Glitchy, Broken SNES w/ 5 games

These would have cost much more at a game shop. Still, ugh.

Just off the high from buying a $30 SNES and selling it for $50, I set out to replicate my success with another SNES, this time purchased for $25 from a nice family on Craigslist.  The set included Super Mario World, Super Mario All-Stars, Donkey Kong Country 3, Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat 2.  Not bad for the price, and selling the SNES with Mario World and my existing Player's Choice copy of Mario All-Stars should have made it a very, very sweet deal.

But this SNES hides a terrible, dark secret.  It hates Mode 7.

When presented with a Mode 7 effect to process, it responds with "LOL I DUNNO LIKE THIS MAYBE" and spits out some garbage vaguely similar to what's supposed to be on the screen.

Yoshi has a segmented tongue!

The opening is the obvious glitch, but watch Yoshi's tongue, too.  Weird, but not as weird as this:


As you can see, it's a much harder game when Mode 7 goes nuts.  Eventually I learned to drive from the bottom half of the screen rather than the top for demo purposes.

So, can we fix it?  No, probably not.  I've checked over and thoroughly cleaned the cartridge connector and can't find any issues.  The games work just fine in my SNES.  From what I've read, this issue is caused by a bad PPU - meaning it'd either need a donor PPU or a whole new board, and I don't have the right kind of equipment to swap the chip anyway.

Of course, I just purchased a pretty decent stack of games for $25 and got an entertainingly glitchy SNES to go with it.  What's to complain about?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Goodwill Hunting - Super Mario Kart

The original, still one of the best.

Super Mario Kart was the first game in the long-running commercial juggernaut Mario Kart series.  Credited with creating the "Kart Racing" genre, several brands and companies have tried to copy the formula and failed.

Oddly, though, the game wasn't designed with Mario in mind.  The original vision was to create a Mode 7 racer with split screen support, after the success of their fantastic but single-player only F-Zero.  A generic man in overalls originally populated the karts until two or three months in development when they decided to see how the karts looked with Mario in them.  With that, the Mario Kart series was born.

This copy of Mario Kart was actually purchased in a bundle pack - a SNES system, Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country and Super Mario Kart.  $30 was a bit high for the set, but I figured I'd sell the system and the other two games on eBay and hopefully come out on top.

The auction went for $50, so this copy of Mario Kart was free, and I even made a profit.  I'm loving this buying/selling game.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Adventures in Local Game Shops - Aladdin (Genesis) and Tetris Attack

I love Panel De Pon so much.  You have no idea.

Aladdin needs little introduction - a game based on the Disney film and developed by Virgin Interactive.  This is a completely different game from the SNES version, which was developed by Capcom.  I've always been biased toward this version, but my wife insists that the SNES version is superior - so I'll most likely be doing a full comparison/review of these games once I've got a copy of the other versions.

Tetris Attack was the first US release from the Panel de Pon series of games.  Panel de Pon, filled with flowers, pixies and tooth decay, was likely thought to be unfit for the American market, so they instead rebranded the game with characters from Yoshi's Island.  The game was very well received, and was actually brought back to the Japanese market as Yoshi no Panepon for the Satellaview service.

Despite being called 'Tetris', the game has absolutely nothing to do with the Tetris series, and The Tetris Company has actually stated that they regret giving Nintendo permission to use the name.

Today's pickups come courtesy of Google Offers, which is currently in testing in the Portland area, and has been a great resource for me so far.

The deal: $20 worth of credit at a local classic game store for $10.  Needless to say I jumped before I'd even ever visited the store.  Sadly, though, the prices were pretty high, as is typical for a mall-based used game shop.

So, for a total cost to me of $19.89, I picked up Aladdin, Tetris Attack, and an SNES AC adapter.  Better than eBay prices, so I can't complain.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Cutting Edge of The Past - Sega's Winter CES 1994 video

Here we have more proof that Sega's marketing was... well, odd.

Of particular note: at 17:04, they show the unreleased "Hammer vs. Evil D. in Soulfire", which is an M.C. Hammer game in which he seems to be throwing fireballs and dancing... which I guess must have been how Hammer spent his weekends.  Please Hammer, don't hurt 'em.

Man, if someone could dump me a prototype of this game, I would love you forever.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

How to Repair a Nintendo NES - Part 2

Since writing the the original NES restoration guide, I've now done about 5 of them, and I've learned something in the process - the success of the previous guide depends entirely upon how well-kept your NES was.  Every one that I'd worked on thus far has been fairly clean, probably kept in a closet or under someone's bed until I got them.  In these cases, bending the pins and applying a bit of alcohol does wonders for your system.

But this won't always be the case.

Recently, I discovered an NES with a cartridge connector that had something jammed in it.  Cardboard?  Orange peel?  I don't know, but it's in there pretty solidly, and soaking didn't help break it up.  Also, my 1.4mm screwdriver snapped trying to get it out.

So, one quick retraction - if your cartridge connector has food jammed in it, just buy the new connector and get on with your life.

...seriously, though, how in the hell did they manage that?  The connector is inside a case, below shielding, and inside a cartridge tray.  You'd really have to want to jam something in there.

Anyway, let's move on.

More on the most important bit - cleaning the connectors.  Alcohol is great for cleaning electronics, but 20+ years of dirt, grime and corrosion may not be cleared with just a toothbrush and some alcohol.  I'd had a particularly stubborn connector, no matter how many times I scrubbed it, Mario just wouldn't come out to play.

But today, it's running like brand new.

Fine-grit sandpaper was the missing key.  Take a piece of sandpaper, fold it over, and insert it into the cartridge connector between the pins.  If the sandpaper is too thin, wrap it around a credit card or something similar.  If you have an emery board, that'll work even better, as the thickness is just about perfect and has sandpaper built right in.  Do this gently, because it may pull back the pins when you pull it out, which could damage them.

After doing this for a while, blast the connector with compressed air to remove any sand that may have come loose, then do the alcohol scrub mentioned in the last article, to clear out anything that may still be there.

The sandpaper or emery board does what it does best - the abrasive surface removes all unwanted crap from the metal pins, leaving the pins bare and ready for clean contact.  Having transformed this connector, I now recommend this for all NES restorations as a "just in case" measure.  As always, be careful not to break the pins.  Have fun!