January 26, 2012
Childhood Memories of the Fond Kind (Amstrad CPC)



The Sega vs Nintendo wars of the 80s and 90s are well documented and are considered to be the thing of legend. Lesser known, but by no means lesser in nature were the home computer wars that were occurring at around the same time. In Australia during the 8-bit era we had the Amstrad CPC vs Commodore 64 war. In other countries you could substitute Amstrad for another computer such as the Apple 2 or add the Spectrum into the mix. In the spirit of these childhood playground arguments I am writing a companion piece to Mike’s "Childhood Memories of the Fond Kind (Commodore 64)" article, coming at it from the point of view of the Amstrad owner.


 
I was introduced to Lord Alan Sugar’s mighty beast at the age of 7. My junior primary school had 2 Commodore 64s that were rarely used, and my computer experience up to that point was limited to moving a cursor around a maze that was taped on to the monitor. Prior to starting at the primary school we were given a tour of the grounds. Upon entering the school’s computer room I was hit with a sight so wonderful that I could barely look upon it. There in front of me was a room full of Amstrad CPC 6128 computers.


 
That black plastic, the uniform monitors, the sleek built in disc drives… how could you not love these machines? During the following year when I started primary school I had my first taste of what it was like to use them.


 
The first thing I noticed was how much faster the built in 3” disc drives were. I remember sitting at the desk loading my first program expecting a bit of a wait, when “BAM”, the program had loaded. The program in question if memory serves was Kuma’s Fruity Frank (a Mr Do clone). Yes, in our first computing class we played games as a way of introducing us to the computers. When you think about it my computer teacher was a genius. Right from the get go he focussed on the fun aspect of computing and got his students hooked.


 
As well as Locomotive Software’s version of BASIC the Amstrad CPC used CPM, which was a precursor to DOS. Through CPM we would regularly have “Logo” classes. This involved the little triangle in the middle of the screen known as a “turtle” which would draw to the co-ordinates you entered. It was boring, but if you finished your work early you could play games for the last 5-10 minutes of class. Now that’s what I call incentive!



When your typical 8-9 year old is exposed to something that they really want what do they do? They beg & harass their parents until they get said item. Naturally I was no different and in the December of 1989 my parents relented and purchased an Amstrad CPC 6128, 5 days before Christmas.


 
We purchased it from Radio Rentals at Port Adelaide which has long since closed down. My Uncle worked there and sold it to us at discount. While I was there I remember seeing a mountain of Amstrad Computer User magazines with Konami’s “Jailbreak” on the cover. I had already been given the previous issue of the magazine with a face hugger from the Alien movies on the cover. I can’t remember where I obtained this from though…


 
My Uncle gave me a copy of the magazine along with the computer and we went home and fired it up. He assured us that it came with a game, but all I could see were 2 system discs with CPM 2.2 on one and CPM+ on the other. After much digging around I discovered a demo of “Roland in Time”. Sadly it was just a rolling demo, so I still had nothing to play. I suspect my parents were a bit miffed at my Uncle over that one.


 
Anyway, a trip to Plaza Computers (which also closed down many years ago) fixed that problem. My father decided we would be purchasing a “Sega Ozisoft 6 pak” (no that’s not a typo, they left the “c” out of pack) for $40, so I never got to choose my first game. I guess I was taking my time deciding and he saw 6 games and figured it was a bargain. It wasn’t a bad choice though, as the games that were on the “pak” were:
 
- Into the Eagle’s Nest
- Shockway Rider
- Ace
- Batty
- International Karate 1 & 2

I remember playing “Into the Eagles Nest” more than any other. It was basically an overhead version of Wolfenstein where your character invaded a Nazi castle to rescue the allied soldiers inside and to then blow it up.

 
At school we Amstrad owners stuck together and I became fast friends with my buddy for many years, James. We played many video games together on the Amstrad CPC, NES and SNES before he moved away during the N64 years. We see each other rarely now, though I think it’s been at least 11 years since we last caught up. This is where a lot of experts have it wrong: Computing was never an antisocial activity. Whether someone is antisocial or not is purely down to the individual, but that’s something I’ll cover more in another topic.


 
Let’s fast forward to the mid 90s, I forget exactly when. I was in the throes of SNES fandom and when my parents suggested selling the Amstrad I wholeheartedly agreed with them. Yes I was an idiot, I can admit to that now. So the Amstrad was sold to my cousins. A few years later I tried tracking it down, but they had sold it on and the people who they sold it to no longer had it. I have no idea what eventually happened to it.
 
In 1999 my Mother suggested that I sell my SNES as I hadn’t played it in a while. Remembering this incident I steadfastly refused to do so. It was her suggestion that if I was going to keep it, then maybe I should purchase some new games for it. In that instant the retro gaming collector inside me was awakened. 2 years later I had another Amstrad CPC 6128 as well as the CPC 464 which contained a built in tape drive rather than a disc drive.


 
My childhood was back and this time it was here to stay!
 
Mike’s next “episode” will be about games, so to go along with that I will be covering some classic titles for the Amstrad CPC series of computers. Since there are so many I’ll just stick to my favourites. Until next time…

May 5, 2011
Super 8: The Ultimate Downgrade Peripheral



Console collecting… It can take up a lot of room can’t it? I love my SNES collection, but every now & again I feel like playing some Famicom or NES games. Trying to find the machines though & then dig them out of wherever they are means I normally can’t be bothered. For most people though, Famicom games aren’t even an option as they don’t have one of these…



… which means a whole library of fantastic games are closed off to them. That’s where this little device comes in.



I introduce to you, the Super 8. This device claims to “Bring the NES back in SNES!!” The tagline is a bit “Engrishy”, but what is it? Well, to cut a long story short it’s a converter for playing NES & Famicom games on your Super NES / Famicom. It has 3 ports, one for the SNES, one for the NES & one for the Famicom. A flap prevents you using both NES & Famicom carts at the same time for obvious reasons (ie. It wouldn’t work).

How does it work? Does it work in all regions? I’m glad you asked. I’ve done a bit of testing in various setups so let’s check out the results.

First let’s see if it fits all the SNES models. First the PAL system:



Now the US model:



& of course, the Super Famicom:



So it looks nice & snug sitting on top of your original release SNES systems. How about the Jr models?



The Super 8 is almost as big as the Super Famicom Jr itself! There’s just one thing I want to try & it’s to prove a theory I’ll get to in a minute. Does this thing fit in the Sharp SF-1?? (The Sharp TV with a built in Super Famicom)



It fits nicely but isn’t the prettiest looking setup. Let’s use the SF-1 as our first test unit since it’s already plugged into it. Let’s put in a couple of games & turn it on.



It works, IT’S ALIVE!!!

Now before we continue, have a look at the back of the Super 8.



It has a multi cable that goes into the SNES & a multi output from the Super 8 to the TV. Ignore the RF as that isn’t even present. The box even shows you this…



… which makes you wonder why the port is even there in the first place, but oh well…

My theory is that the 8 bit part of device doesn’t use the SNES for anything more than a power & video out source. Let’s check that theory by hooking it up to the Sharp TV sitting next to it.



As I’ve mentioned in my article about the SF-1, the set has specific SNES multi out so you can connect it to another TV. Now keep in mind here that the SF-1 only has the Super 8 sitting on top with the multi out going from the SF-1 to the Super 8 & then the Super 8 connected to the TV.

Hope that didn’t confuse anyone… Turning on the device will bring up the following menu:



Quite simple. Choose either 16 bit for the SNES port or 8 bit for which ever of the 8 bit ports is open. Firstly let’s try the Super Famicom game that’s in the device right now. It’s Kunio Kun Dodgeball. Will it work on both TVs?



It looks like it will. It looks like the SNES port just feeds directly into the SNES itself. Naturally US games work as well:



What about an 8 bit game now? Does my theory ring true? Will the SF-1 show the image for the 8 bit game? Or will it only feed through to the other TV?



I thought so… Now to the consoles. Most 3rd party devices are NTSC specific unless they say otherwise. What about the PAL SNES? Let’s plug it in & try it.



Firstly I confirmed that the SNES & the game (Actraiser) work perfectly. What about with the Super 8?



UGH!!! It’s very green… I tried shifting cables, turning it on & off, re-seating the Super 8, trying different carts & nothing… I guess we’ll shift to the NTSC machines.



Being that the device worked on the SF-1 I have no doubt that this is going to be fine. Let’s turn it on & try Super Mario Bros 3:



Excellent, & NO PAL BORDERS!! I absolutely loathe PAL borders… & this does prove that PAL NES games will work on the Super 8.

Now for a game I just purchased: Gyatto Ninden Teyandee. Otherwise known as Samurai Pizza Cats!!! I love Samurai Pizza Cats. I have models of all 3 of them & even have a Japanese Pizza Cats: Pizza Parlour play set. Yeah, I’m a fan. Let’s turn it on & see what happens:



Sweet… let’s check out the game itself.







It works beautifully. I think I’ll wrap this up now & get back to defeating the Big Cheese & his minions.

So the Super 8: Don’t waste your money if you only have a PAL machine. If you have an NTSC machine then go for it! There are only 4 negatives I can think of:

1) All 3 cartridge ports are VERY tight. I had to wrestle to remove each cartridge I used. I assume they will loosen up the more I use it.

2) You can’t use Famicom peripherals that require the expansion port on the front as this device doesn’t have such a port. For those interested this DOES mean that the Famicom disc drive works. I don’t have one to test, but a Google search will bring up many a testimony to that fact.

3) It doesn’t work on a PAL SNES. No problem if you have a Super Famicom or US SNES though. One other thing to keep in mind is that this is not a SNES adapter & will not allow PAL SNES games to be played on an NTSC SNES.

4) The AV out cable on the unit is quite loose & you can lose a picture & / or sound by the slightest movement. Just pushing it back in fixes this problem though, so it’s a minor annoyance.

Now I must go. Little Tokyo / Edoropolis needs me!!!

January 30, 2011
Taking a Bite of the Apple

Let me start off with a little known fact: While Microsoft have been active in the home console market for roughly a decade, Apple were there first. The Pippin console was designed by Apple Technologies & marketed by Bandai, in a similar arrangement to the 3DO which was licensed by a few different companies.

Firstly thanks must go to the good people at Celga who are always fantastic in both customer service & response time for when you make a purchase or a bid. They’re not only useful for Japan Yahoo Auctions & if you’ve never used them before I suggest going to their website & checking out their FAQ. to see where you can buy from.



To cut a long story short we discovered someone in Japan who had come across some Bandai Pippins in a warehouse. The price was so good we bought 4 of them: 2 white “Atmark” Pippins & 2 “@World” Pippins. These are machines that can go for $500+ each on Ebay!



Let’s begin with the “Atmark” model. In Japan the “Atmark” was released first. This is the white model. The “@World” was the black model released in America & towards the end of it’s life in Japan. The “Atmark” is the more common model that appears frequently on Ebay.





Here it is, a brand new, never before opened Apple/Bandai Pippin. I confess I had some reservations about opening the box, but here goes…



The console is on the top with the accessories in the little white box sitting underneath. Let’s check out the console first.



On top we have some manuals, advertising & a CD catalogue. Nothing too interesting there. Let’s move those & unwrap the console.



Wow. I’ve been wanting one of these for a very long time & to actually get 4 of them in brand new condition… it really is about being in the right place at the right time. Now for the accessories. Lets check out what’s in the white box.



Some more manuals & there’s the Applejack controller that we covered HERE. Let’s move the manuals & see what’s underneath.



Top left is the box of software that comes with the system. On the top right we have the 33.6k modem that comes with it. May as well leave that there as we don’t have a dialup service to use it with.



The power & phone cables are in the bottom right with the Applejack on the left.



Here is the Applejack. As well as the buttons you can see here there are 3 buttons on the bottom & 2 orange buttons on the top. The top buttons appear to operate as a left & right mouse button along with the trackball in the middle.



On the back of the console itself we have the outputs. You have your standard AV & S-Video outputs with a VGA connection. You also have a printer connection & a connection for the modem. Let’s plug it all in.



I decided not to undo the cable around the Applejack as I have a hard time getting them back the way they were. Unfortunately I had to do that with the power cable as I don’t have a different one that matches.



Now, I own a lot of machines from the US & Japan & I’ve never had a cable that looks like this before. What is that little green bit sticking out the end? I guess I should check the manual…



Looks like it’s a ground connector. Well my step down adapter has an input for it, so that’s not a problem. Let’s turn it on.



Well it looks like it wants a CD. If you leave it long enough it performs a little animation of a CD entering the tray, then says “Pippin” & starts again. Let’s look at the software provided.



The only CD that seems worth checking out is “Word, Paint, Mail”. No games come with the console & like the Playdia it doesn’t really seem like it’s a machine for the “gamer”. That being said, Marathon (precursor to Halo) looks like it’s well worth checking out. Turning it on you see it starts up similar to Mac OS 7.5 which is the OS used for the system.



No point in checking out the mail application, but the word & paint parts of the program might be of interest.



The word part of the program has a pop up keyboard (for if you don’t have the keyboard peripheral, which I don’t) & you use the trackball to move the mouse pointer around. How about the paint application?



Again, nothing too exciting. With nothing else to do we may as well pack the console up. I’d rather get it back into the box as soon as possible anyway. Now for the black “@World” Pippin.



Hmm… the box is a bit smaller than the “Atmark”… Let’s open it & see what’s inside.



Umm… it’s just the console & a sheet of paper. As I mentioned earlier, the “@World” was released towards the end of the Pippin’s life in Japan. My personal theory is that these were leftover US machines that were sent to Japan & maybe used for warranty replacements. I could be wrong, but most of the information about the Pippin I could find doesn’t even mention that the “@World” was released in Japan, yet here we are…





As you can see, short of the branding on the front & the colour this is identical to the “Atmark” model.





Side by side there’s little physical difference between the machines. Plugging in the console we see that internally there’s no difference between the machines.

I suppose as the departed Michael Jackson used to say: “It don’t matter if you’re black or white”.

January 20, 2011
Playing the Playdia

After another bulk order from Japan Yahoo Auctions thanks to the good people of Celga, it’s time to check out one of the consoles we purchased. It was a bit of a Bandai-fest with us purchasing a black Pippin, white Pippin & a Playdia. For this article we’ll have a look at the Playdia. The title wouldn’t make a lot of sense if we didn’t…



First & foremost, these things are CHEAP. This one was purchased with all the games for 12,249 円 which is pretty reasonable considering the prices you’ll pick one up for on Ebay. Just look up the 2 Dragonball Z games alone & see what you’ll be paying, & that’s without the console!! If you haven’t checked out the Japan Yahoo Auctions article I strongly suggest you do. After all, I wrote it!!

Check it out HERE!!

Anyway, let’s plug this bad boy in. Firstly, I’m a bit stuck for space, so the Playdia is going to have to sit on my pile of Super Play magazines & the step down adapter (remember, this is a 110v machine) will have to sit next to the TV.



One thing to I’d like to mention here is the weight of the machine. The console is rather light for what it is. This is compared to the Pippins (which we’ll cover in another article) which are actually quite hefty. Anyway, what to play? Let’s check out the games. By the way, they fit quite nicely on the bookshelf:



Let’s put in one of the main reasons I bought the console: Dragonball Z: Plan to Eradicate the Saiyajin Part 1.



Now to detach the controller that really doesn’t need detaching actually. It just sits there with nothing to hold it in place.

You can tell by the controller that this console isn’t designed for action games. A bulk of the games on the machine are video based or edutainment. There is one problem I have with the controller & that is the infra red sensor. Obviously you have to be sitting directly in front of the console for it to work. It’s a minor gripe however & one I found easy enough to deal with. Now to boot up Dragonball Z.





The video is quite nice running at noticeably fewer frames per second than your standard DVD. Remember this was 1994, so you have to make allowances. Anyway, Gohan has a bit of an accident involving firewood & Mr Popo comes down with a warning.







Anyway, to cut a long story short, Goku, Gohan & Piccolo head off to deal with the problem.



They split up & you have to guide all 3 of them to their goal. I’ll leave you here now as I want to find out what happens next & see when Vegeta & Trunks show up.

So that’s the Playdia. It’s a nice little system, but who is it for? Who should buy it & why? Well it’s not a machine I would recommend for the “gamer”. If you’re a collector however it’s a worthy addition to any collection. If you’re a Dragonball collector, well this is the only way to view the original “Dragonball Z: Plan to Eradicate the Saiyajin” short of forking out close to $1000 for the Japanese release of Dragonball Z: Dragonbox 2 which has it as an extra. Even then you miss out on the extra endings that only the game offers.

There is a cut down version of “Dragonball Z: Plan to Eradicate the Saiyajin” on “Dragonball Raging Blast 2” as an animated extra. Keep in mind however that this has been cut back to 30 minutes. The original Playdia version is about an hour in length.

May 21, 2010
Tails Adventures - Game Gear Review

System: Game Gear

Released: 1995

By: Sega



Tail’s Adventures is one of the lesser known games in the Sonic series. It was one of 2 Tails only games on the Game Gear & unlike the previous game “Tails’ Sky Patrol” this one wasn’t a Japanese exclusive.



This particular game is a prequel to Sonic 2, & Tails hasn’t met Sonic at this stage. The story goes that Tails’ home was invaded by the “Battle Kukku Army”, & that they are attempting to find & use the Chaos Emeralds to conquer the world. I don’t think I need to tell you that Tails decides to stop them, but I just did anyway.



The story in the Western releases takes place after Sonic 2. You could place it wherever you want really, but as I own the Japanese version of the game I’ll go by that. Anyway, enough about the story, let’s see how the game plays.



The first thing you’ll notice is that the animation is spectacular. Tails is really well animated & the colours are vibrant. The problem lies in that this is a portable system with a small screen, & the Tails sprite is rather large. The programmers did compensate by allowing you to use up & down to see what’s above & below you, but your view still feels a bit restricted when you start playing. There is the odd “leap of faith”, but Tails’ flying ability normally helps out there.



Yes Tails still has the ability to fly, but it’s a little different. Button 1 will first let you jump, but push it again while in mid air, or push up & jump, & you fly. The controls differ from the Sonic games in that if you push jump for a third time Tails will just drop. When he’s flying you use the directional controls to move him around while he stays in the air rather then tap the jump button. Speaking of which, Tails initially doesn’t have a lot of stamina & as soon as you start flying he’s gasping for air.



Button 2 will use your currently selected item. There is no jumping on the enemy in this game… well not without hurting yourself anyway. Instead you use weapons. Tails starts off with an unlimited supply of bombs at his disposal.



I admit, I was a bit taken aback by this. It kinda feels like it’s not really a Sonic game, but that they just put in one of the characters to sell the units. I could be wrong of course, but that’s what went through my mind.



You only have 1 life, but a decent amount of health, represented by the number of rings in the upper left corner of the screen. You start off with a maximum of 10 rings at any time, but as you collect the Chaos Emeralds, the amount of rings & length of time Tails can fly for increases.



While you only have 1 life, the game does have a password system. As was typical of platform games from this period, there is a map screen. If you go to Tails’ house on the map you can get the current password or input another one to take you further into the game. You can also manage your items in Tails’ house.



Boss battles aren’t terribly difficult. The characters look like they fit in the Sonic world, & there isn’t much more I can really say about them. They’re nothing special really.



Some levels of the game take place underwater. Personally I wasn’t that big on these levels. They’re not bad per se, but when I play a platform game, I like to play a “platform” game, but I suppose some people could consider this to be a welcome distraction. I’ll leave it there. They’re not bad, but I feel they’re unnecessary.



The music is a bit basic really. It sounds out of place in a lot of areas, particularly during the intro, where nice boppy music plays along while one of the soldiers in a mech-type-thing burns down the forest around him. The sound effects do what they’re supposed to. If you’ve played Sonic & Bomberman you know what sounds to expect when you jump or throw a bomb at someone.



The difficulty for the game is just about right. It starts off very easy, but challenges you a little later on. There are puzzles you need to work out to complete certain parts of the levels. You are required to use the aforementioned items to work out ways of getting through the level. Items include little remote controlled Tails robots, remote controlled bombs, spin dash, teleports and more.



You can only bring 4 items with you per level, so choose carefully because it can be frustrating to have to start a level all over again because you don’t have the right item.



When all is said & done it’s a decent game. Not spectacular by any means, but it plays a good game, & that’s all we can ask really. The frustration from repeating levels until you get the right items can feel a bit unfair at times, but at least it’s not like Monty on the Run. In that game you choose your items at the start of the game & if you choose wrong you start the whole game again.



I give this one 78% It’s good but not great.

April 29, 2010
Street Fighter 2: The Animated Movie - review

Street Fighter 2: The Animated Movie

Released 1994

By: Manga Video

Note: Before we begin, this review is written with the assumption that the reader has prior knowledge of the Street Fighter series & it’s characters. With that out of the way, on with the review…

Back in the early 90s Street Fighter 2 was a phenomenon. The original “World Warrior” game spawned pseudo sequels in the form of “Champion Edition”, “Turbo Hyper Fighting”, “Super” & “Super Turbo”. While these games were basically all the same bar a few differences, audiences continued to buy them & they frequently topped the gaming charts for almost every system they were released on.

As well as the multitude of game variations, Street Fighter 2 merchandise could be found everywhere. From comics to action figures, a crappy live action movie, & this little anime gem.

The movie is called “Street Fighter 2: The Animated Movie”, but a lot of people at the time argued it should have been called “Super Street Fighter 2: The Animated Movie” as it included Cammy, DeeJay, Fei Long & T-Hawk, the 4 “New Challengers” from “Super Street Fighter 2”. Either way, I never thought it was particularly important, but Super Play magazine did mention it along with a few other publications at the time.

The DVD I am reviewing this from is the Region 1 US release incase anyone was wondering. This release is a double sided DVD with the English version on one side & the full Japanese version on the other. I say “full” Japanese version as the English dub is missing 2 minutes of footage. Well actually, there’s a bit of confusion about the various versions of the movie floating around, but I won’t go into that here. Straight away I have to mention that I hate double sided DVDs, & I know I’m not alone when I say that. They are too easy to damage & really, with the price of DVDs these days I would have happily paid a couple of dollars more for a 2 disc set with both versions of the movie. This is the way they decided to release it however, so we just have to put up with it.

Strangely, when I opened the box I ended up with 3 inserts. I don’t know how this happened, but I guess I have 2 spares… yay… The inserts have a variation of the cover art on one side with the chapters listed on the other. Nothing special really, but it does the job.

Upon inserting either side of the disc you’re greeted with an “Insert Coin” screen written in the same text as the Street Fighter 2 arcade machine. You hear the sound of a coin being inserted, then the little chime you hear when you start the game & the menu appears. It’s a nice touch which really shows that whoever created the menus put a little thought into it. The front menu screen features the original 8 characters that were selectable in “The World Warrior” & shows a small cut scene of each of them from the movie one by one.

I actually had some issues with this, as there were 16 playable characters at this stage, so why focus on the original 8? Anyway, it’s only a menu so I can live with that. The extras are basically 4 trailers, 2 of which are for Street Fighter Alpha & Alpha Generations. Anyway, you’ve probably read enough about the DVD itself. Let’s take a look at the movie:

During the title sequence we are shown snippets of the famous battle between Ryu & Sagat, inwhich Sagat gets a Shoryuken to the chest which will eventually heal into that scar he has in the games. Something is amiss though, as both fighters are being monitored & their fighting abilities are being assessed. Why is this? Well you’ll find out later… After Sagat gets his chest burst open & a Hadouken to finish him off the main movie starts.

As far as the story goes, Bison & his Shadowlaw (Shadaloo in the games & Japanese dub) organisation are seeking fighters of exceptional skill to kidnap & brainwash into assassins. These assassins are then deployed to take out world leaders so Shadowlaw can get their own people in power. Cammy is the first assassin we see & after her mission is complete she is taken down by security & sent to Interpol headquarters where Chun-Li is investigating Bison’s operation.

Interpol are working with the US military, which means Chun-Li has to try & form an alliance with Captain Guile who wants nothing more than revenge against Bison for killing his friend. That is until Chun-Li reveals that Bison killed her father. Following this revelation she quickly points out that her mission still comes before her revenge. Guile appears to understand & the 2 begin their investigation, visiting potential fighters who Bison may be targeting.

You discover at the start of the movie that Sagat & Ryu were being watched & assessed by one of Bison’s cyborgs who gathered their fighting data & sent it back to him. Bison employed Sagat after the battle but the ever elusive Ryu continued on his journey seeking worthy opponents, oblivious to that fact that he was being hunted. Bison was impressed with Ryu’s abilities, & he wants to use them for Shadowlaw’s evil purposes.

Bison decides to slow the Interpol investigation down & sends Vega after Chun-Li. After an obligatory shower scene featuring the very naked & very well endowed female street fighter, a very bloody battle takes place between the 2. Let’s get the obligatory shower shot out of the way…

… Yes there is a frontal shot, but for the ladies reading this I decided to choose a back shot. Anyway, both fighters are fast but Chun-Li wins out, though ends up with a lot of cuts thanks to Vega’s claw. Guile arrives straight after the battle is over & takes her to the hospital. It’s good news from here on though as Interpol has found Ken, who was one of the fighters they were looking for. The problem is, so has Bison…

One of Bison’s cyborgs discovers Ken during a battle with T-Hawk. Bison figures if he can’t get Ryu then Ken is close enough. They both trained together, they both know the same moves & have similar fighting potential. He also figures that he can use Ken to bring Ryu out into the open giving him two for one.

So Bison goes “hunting” & after a short battle & remarkable display of “psycho power” Ken is under his control. Guile also hurries to Ken’s location but arrives too late. Shortly after however, Interpol discovers Ryu’s whereabouts. Guile heads to where he was spotted & this time he’s one step ahead of Bison.

Ryu has found his way to the home of E.Honda. The 2 met earlier in the movie when Honda was battling Dhalsim. Dhalsim felt Ryu’s intense energy which distracted him & allowed Honda to win the fight. Honda thanked Ryu & offered him a share of his winnings.

Ryu is training at Honda’s hilltop training ground, when they are interrupted by Guile arriving & warning Ryu of Bison’s plan. It’s too late however as Bison followed Guile to the location & it’s time for the final battle.

A brainwashed Ken battles with Ryu who refuses to fight back, Guile tries to take on Bison & Balrog jumps off Bison’s plane & battles Honda. Guile can’t lay a hand on Bison & is quickly defeated, & Honda’s battle with Balrog shortly ends up with them both falling down the side of the mountain, so the main focus is on Ryu & Ken.

The battle provides a lot of flashbacks of the 2 of them training together when they were younger. These little scenes are spread throughout the movie, but as Ken struggles against the brainwashing while trying to fight Ryu we get to see more of them.

Eventually Ken breaks free of Bison’s hold & the 2 of them take Bison on together. Bison makes a big mistake & decides to stop playing his little “psycho power” games & takes them both on in a proper fight.

The 2 warriors initially struggle to even lay a finger on Bison, but Ryu manages the first couple of hits. When Bison recovers & throws Ryu aside Ken comes in & continues from where his friend left off. Eventually the fight comes down to Ryu & Ken’s most famous move, the Hadouken.

A double fireball from both of them at the same time blasts Bison back to his ship which gets destroyed in the process & the battle is over. Honda arrives carrying a very battered Guile & Balrog, & for now it’s a happy ending.

The characters go their seperate ways, Bison’s base is destroyed & the world is safe once more. That is, until the very last scene where Ryu has a surprise encounter… but I won’t spoil that.

With the movie synopsis out of the way, how does it fare as a DVD? Well the video quality on the English side of the disc is rather average & it’s clear that little to no restoration was done. Infact I had a few issues trying to capture screens of some of the action scenes for this review. Really, I noticed little difference between this & my VHS copy apart from my VHS copy being a bit worn. The Japanese version looks much better, but apparently that was taken from the original master. Here’s a comparison shot. First the English version:

Then the Japanese version:

The soundtracks are different between the versions, with the English language release going for your traditional early 90s grunge inspired music you would expect to find in a film based on “Street Fighter 2”. The Japanese version has more of a traditional anime style soundtrack with music that doesn’t really fit the scenes in a lot of places. In my opinion neither soundtrack is particularly noteworthy, but each has its fans.

One little thing that does bother me is the lack of screen time given to the 4 new “Super Street Fighter” characters. Cammy gets a small scene where she pulls off an assassination only to be caught, & a brief interview with Chun-Li later on. T-Hawk gets a fight with Ken & that’s it. DeeJay… that poor guy gets his name spelled incorrectly as “DJ” when he’s being scanned by the android & he’s only in the film for a few minutes.

Fei Long is really the only one to get a bit of a story as well as a battle with Ryu. Oh, I nearly forgot to mention Akuma’s “blink & you miss it” cameo. Have a look on the left:

Storyline wise… look, it’s an anime, so it’s not something you want to scrutinise & dissect. Yes it’s over the top, yes it’s unbelievable, but it’s fun & that’s the main thing. Before we sum up this release, what of the extra 2 minutes on the Japanese version? Well there’s nothing major, just some extended scenes of little importance, & more Chun-Li in the shower. Well hey, for some people that IS important.

I saw this movie when it first came out on VHS & I was blown away by it. I enjoyed the movie then & I enjoy it now, but do you know what the best thing about this release is? It’s cheap!!

Yes, this DVD can be picked up cheap enough that you can forget about the video quality issues & just enjoy some early 90s anime based on one of the finest video game franchises ever created. I paid less than $20 with postage from the US. As for a rating I give it 92%. In my opinion it really is the best Street Fighter based anime out there, with Street Fighter 2V coming second.

Anyway, that’s my verdict. What do Ryu & Ken think?

I think that says it all really…

2:20am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZHAMUyX9pvU
  
Filed under: Street Fighter Anime 
April 22, 2010
Bomberman World - Arcade review

Released: 1992

By: Irem

System: JAMMA/Arcade



Now I’ve said in the past that Super Bomberman 4 is the greatest game in the series. It’s a pretty bold claim considering the amount of Bomberman games out there today. Now, we all know about the home conversions, but it’s a little known fact that there were arcade releases. Neo Bomberman that was released for the Neo Geo is the first one most people think of when you mention “Bomberman arcade”, but we’re not going to talk about that game today. Today I want to focus on the Japanese only arcade release of Bomberman World.



You’ll notice that this game was released by Irem as opposed to Hudsonsoft, who actually own the Bomberman series. I’m not sure why this is as Hudson released Neo Bomberman for SNKs wonder machine. It’s a bit odd, but let’s see how an arcade release of Bomberman works.



When you first insert your coins you’re given 4 options of play. The first 2 are the main game with either one or two players. The second 2 options are battle mode with either one or two players. Let’s have a look at the main game first, then we’ll delve into the Battle Mode.



Just like the SNES releases, this arcade version of Bomberman has a nice little comic book type story that opens the game. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t read Japanese so I don’t know what the story is… sorry…



It’s the last time I’ll mention this, but having played Neo Bomberman I was a bit disappointed with the lack of animation in the intro. Neo Bomberman has nice little animations of Bomberman running around, & seeing these static images is a bit… well it’s not a bad thing, but it does let down the overall presentation of the game. Yes Neo Bomberman was released 5 years later, but keep in mind it came out on hardware that is 2 years older than Bomberman World.

Anyway, that’s the last I’ll say about it…



Like most Bomberman games you get a map screen before delving into each world & playing the levels. I thought this was pretty standard until I passed the first world & saw Bomberman flying to the next one… yes FLYING. Bomberman can apparently fly?? He’s never been able to before without a powerup. It’s only on the map screen though, so I learned to live with it. On the plus side it looks like Australia & New Zealand were safe from the evil menace in this game.



The levels are your basic Bomberman bomb fest. If you’ve played any of the previous games in the series you’ll feel right at home here. You get your maze with enemies & the ability to drop bombs to destroy said enemies. Bomberman controls nicely, though it is a bit odd using a joystick rather than a controller. Button 1 on my machine operated as the bomb button, while button 2 was the special abilities button.



As I didn’t know what each of the powerups did, I was really only using button 2 to set off the remote control bombs.



The first thing you’ll notice about Bomberman himself is that he’s a bit butch. I figure he’s either been working out or is wearing some massive shoulder pads. Bomberman has always been a thin character, occasionally stocky (particularly in the early days), but never this big. So it felt a little odd at first but you quickly get into the game. I mean, it’s Bomberman, right?



Bomberman it is indeed, but while playing it, I kept feeling like something was missing. I could never put my finger on what it was exactly, because on the surface the game actually offers little extras like bonus stages.



Maybe it was the music. The music was actually pretty decent, but it wasn’t your typical Hudsonsoft Bomberman music. The sound effects… well you can’t go too far wrong when you’re making the sound of a bomb exploding.



One of the problems I found with the main game is that unlike the SNES versions that I grew up with, you can’t take your powerups from one level to the next. You might have 4 bombs with maximum blast range but when you hit that next level you’re back to one bomb with minimum blast range. You might think this is a problem when facing bosses, but not to worry as each boss level gives you an array of powerups to collect.



The bosses are quite imaginative & a far cry from the giant robot type bosses you typically see in the Hudsonsoft games. Clearly a lot of thought went into these guys. The first world boss with the caterpillar that keeps splitting into various segments puts the pressure on & forces you to keep moving.



It’s not just the bosses that had a lot of thought put in, but the enemies themselves. The little guy in the picture below is trying to bury my bomb in the sand which decreases its blast radius:



& this guy uses his giant green tongue to eat the bombs & then runs around for a few seconds before he blows up. You just have to make sure you’re not near him when it happens:



Overall the main game offers your typical Bomberman challenge, but the loss of powerups between levels is a bit disappointing. Add to that the fact that when you pick up special bombs you can only lay a certain number of them before you go back to using normal bombs. In the other games you have to die first, but here you’re just given a limited amount of… remote bombs for example.

Let’s check out the battle mode:



Like the main game a brief story is given at the start of the battle mode. Why this is I don’t know, as most people don’t play battle mode for the story.



Overall these isn’t a lot to mention here really. It’s your basic Bomberman battle mode, but with only 2 human players possible. I guess it is pretty pointless having a 4 player machine when the main game only allows 2 players.



As always the Bomberman battle mode victory screens are always entertaining, & this game is no exception. When you win you get the girl…



… but when you lose another player does.



I only paid $40 for the board on Ebay from a Taiwanese seller, & I’m pretty happy with my purchase. I don’t think I would have spent much more to be honest. It’s a nice game, but I don’t play it very often. If I saw it in an arcade I’d happily put in 40c for a game, but no more than that. What I’m trying to say is that it’s not bad, but it’s not great either. I give it 70% & suggest you stick to Super Bomberman 4.

5:52pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZHAMUyWDH0U
  
Filed under: Bomberman World JAMMA Arcade 
April 12, 2010
Christmas in April - Japan Yahoo Followup

A few months ago we talked about using Japan Yahoo Auctions & some of the bargains you can find in that mystical eastern land. Check that story out here first:

http://retrospekt.com.au/post/357773503/in-retrospekt-a-guide-to-yahoo-japan-auctions

I’ve been ordering a bit of stuff & it all came in today thanks to the good people at Celga. Let’s have a look:



There was a lot of stuff so it came in 3 boxes. I wasn’t aware they’d be doing this until I got 3 tracking numbers sent to me. I can guess that the Super Famicom Box is in the middle box, as it’s about the right size. For now let’s open the top box.



There’s the Super Famicom Jr with 2 controllers & 2 Capcom Soldier controllers. After having a go with them I have to say the Soldier controllers are awkward to use. Maybe you have to get used them, but then again why would you bother when you’re happy with the current controllers? I’ll save that topic for another day as it looks like there’s more in the box. Let’s dig a bit deeper:



Wow, & I haven’t even looked at the other 2 boxes. There’s Chrono Trigger, Puyo Puyo, Kirby’s Dream Course, Dragon’s Quest 5, Crayon Shin Chan & Shining Scorpion towards the top with come boxed games on the side. There’s a bit of Super Robot Wars, some Final Fantasy & Bomberman is in the pink box down the bottom. That “Total Amusement Shop” box looks like a generic box that this particular store would package its unboxed games in.

Let’s see if I was right about the middle box:



I thought so. Here’s the Super Famicom box. There are no keys for it, so I might have to look at seeing if it’s possible to get replacements. Without keys you can’t turn it on by the look of it. Sadly the SF box got a bit damaged in transit.



Not much I can do about that I’m afraid. Anyway, onto the big box!!



Right on top is the Superscope. I also ordered Yoshi’s Safari with this lot, so at least I have the only semi decent Superscope game to go along with it. Let’s take off the top layer & see what’s under the scope.



There’s a couple of Dragonball Z games, 2 Street Fighter 2 variants & the 2 big boxes on either side have Mario & Wario with mouse & Mario Paint with mouse. There’s more underneath though, let’s dig a bit deeper.



There’s Yoshi’s Safari on the right, with Hammerin’ Harry (the same one from the previous article) & Yoshi’s Island also here. Bomberman 5 is also visible in the shot wrapped in bubble wrap.

So all in all I ended up with 88 games, a Super Famicom Jr, a Super Famicom Box, 2 controllers, 2 Capcom Soldier controllers, a Superscope & a Twin Tap. I still don’t know what games that thing is used for, but it was less than $5.

Right, well I’ve got to go & lock myself up for a week so I can play all these games. Later!!!

April 7, 2010
The Wizard - Movie review

Released 1989

By Universal

Starring Fred Savage, Jenny Lewis, Beau Bridges, Christian Slater, Luke Edwards

How do you sum up a movie that’s about a young boy who wants to go to California, & ends with becoming a Nintendo master? Well I guess I could say it’s about a young boy who wants to go to California, & ends with becoming a Nintendo master, but that would be repeating myself… The Wizard is an 80s memory for a lot of kids who grew up in that time, but a lot of people may not have seen it in years if at all. It hasn’t been released on DVD in Australia at the time of writing this, but I picked up the US version for $10AU on Ebay. BARGAIN!

So what are my thoughts on the movie? Timeless classic? Or major disappointment?

I’ll start by saying it’s not for everyone. Infact upon viewing the film, my girlfriend Danielle walked out & started doing something else part way through citing that she was bored. It’s slow moving in places, but let’s be honest, back in the late 80s the main reason kids wanted to see this movie was for the Nintendo factor & to catch a glimpse of Super Mario Bros 3.

The film begins with the police searching for a missing boy. This boy turns out to be Jimmy Woods (Luke Edwards), one of the 3 main characters of the movie. The police find him but the only thing he will say is “California” over & over again. They take him home & his Mother dumps him in a mental institution as Jimmy is a bit loopy. A psychologist attempts to explain what she thinks is wrong & talk her out of sending Jimmy there but the Mother’s partner isn’t having any of it. Meanwhile his half brothers Nick (Christian Slater) & Corey (Fred Savage who was of course “Kevin Arnold” from The Wonder Years), who live with their Father (the parents are divorced) are upset about it, but the Father claims there is nothing he can do about it as the Mother has custody of Jimmy.

& yes that is Beau Bridges, Earl’s Father from “My Name is Earl”

Corey sneaks Jimmy out of the mental institution & they head to California, though Corey still has no idea why Jimmy wants to go there at this stage. On the way they meet the streetwise Haley (Jenny Lewis) who joins them on their journey. They discover Jimmy is a video game “Wizard” & Hayley suggests he enter the “Video Armageddon” tournament that is being held at Universal Studios (& yes this is a Universal movie).

Haley of course wants a cut of the prize money, so continues to tag along with them. Corey agrees so he can prove to his parents that Jimmy isn’t insane & doesn’t need to be locked up. They journey to the tournament by walking or hitch hiking, Jimmy practices his Nintendo skills, they gain money by betting on Jimmy winning games, & meet Jimmy’s future rival Lucas & his Power Glove.

Along the way we find out why Jimmy wants to go to California & the real reason Haley wants a share of the prize money. Jimmy & Corey’s parents are understandably concerned, so the Mother hires Putnam, a bounty hunter (though he is never called that) to bring the kids in, while the Father & elder brother Nick go after the kids on their own. Obviously this causes a conflict of interest, because if the Father brings them in then Putnam doesn’t get paid.

Putnam, the kids & parents all make it to Universal Studios. Putnam chases the kids around & nearly prevents Jimmy from making it to the stage for the finals. Jimmy does make it in time, wins the tournament by beating Lucas & another player & then gets to honour the memory of his deceased twin sister in California which was his whole reason for wanting to go in the first place.

That’s a brief synopsis. Now this movie has been criticised for years for not giving a terribly accurate representation of video games. Let’s deal with that now, because you can’t mention The Wizard without mentioning these “problems” with the movie. So here we go:

- “You got 50,000 on Double Dragon”

Honestly… it’s not possible to get that score in 5 minutes unless you’re using a Game Genie or Action Replay. Plus you see Jimmy playing 5 minutes later & on level 3 he only has 29,000 points.

- Lucas playing Rad Racer with the Power Glove

Seriously that has to be a mistake! NO ONE plays with a Power Glove this well.

- “That’s the magic flute. Use it, use it, it opens the warp!!”

& how do you even KNOW about warp whistles Haley? Mario Bros 3 introduced warp whistles & it was a brand new, never before seen game at the time.

As for the warp whistle, warping in Mario is not the way to get points. I say this because in the movie Jimmy gets a huge score boost for using the warp. If anything the fact that you’ve skipped a few worlds means your end score will be lower, but Mario isn’t about points so no one really cares about that.

I won’t even ask how he knew where the whistle was in the first world fortress…

- The Father playing the NES

Seriously… it’s not a fault per se, but it’s laughably bad acting. That man is NOT playing a NES.

- The announcer says the Jimmy died in world 2. OK… well how come this still looks like world 1?

The film itself tries to be a feelgood family movie, but it’s clearly nothing more than a movie length Nintendo commercial. Aside from the errors mentioned above, there are some other questionable things about the movie that irritate me such as:

How does showing you’re a video game master prove that you’re NOT insane? Back in the 80s most parents didn’t think very highly of video games, or having their kids play them so I have to question the logic here.

The story between the siblings or half siblings is confusing. I assume Nick & Corey are full brothers from a first marriage, while Jimmy & his twin sister are siblings from their Father’s second marriage, but it’s never really explained in full.

You find out in the end that Jimmy wants to journey to California to leave a lunchbox full of pictures of his twin sister inside a dinosaur gift shop? What, does he think it’s going to stay there? That no one is going to see it & think “Oh, that shouldn’t be there, what’s in here? Pics of a girl with no address, oh well that can go in the bin”. That’s what ran through my head when I first saw it as a kid & when I rewatched it recently I was thinking the same thing. Burying the box somewhere would have been better, at least that way there’s a chance it would have stayed there.

When Haley calls the Nintendo Hotline you see the support people with a NES & a TV next to them. Funny that all the games are playing by themselves…

When Corey & Haley are first discussing Jimmy’s gaming abilities in the cafe Jimmy is playing Ninja Gaiden. The screen gets covered yet Jimmy still keeps on playing it.

Maybe he really is a Wizard… On the subject of Ninja Gaiden, one thing they get RIGHT is the pronunciation of the name. The guy who signs Jimmy up for the contest does not pronounce it as “GAY-DEN”, but rather “GUY-DEN” which is how it should be.

Now, can someone explain to me how it took Putnam, the Father & the kids DAYS to get to their destination, yet the Mother & her partner get there in what was probably less than half the time?

"A new game? That’s so unfair!"

In the preliminary rounds of the tournament the game was Ninja Gaiden. When the 3 highest scorers were announced it was mentioned that the final round would be played on a new game. Why does Hayley complain about this so much? Surely a brand new game means everyone is on the same level. I personally think it’s more than fair.

 

I have to mention that ridiculous scoring system again.

The score goes up CONTINUOUSLY. In any of the Mario games you don’t get points for simply jumping on platforms or walking like the contestants seem to here. Jimmy loses a couple of lives in the tournament which gives Lucas a massive lead for a while, but I don’t honestly see why. Maybe the scoring system has nothing to do with the Mario Bros 3 scoring system… that’s the only theory I can come up with. Even when I look at it like that though it still bothers me…

I think I need to mention a bit more about Lucas, specifically that immortal line: “I love the Power Glove. It’s so bad”

I love that line, & yes Lucas, the Power Glove IS bad!! That of course is followed shortly by (in my opinion) the best line in the film:

"Just keep your Power Gloves off her pal"

You tell him Fred Savage!!

Notable mention has to go to Jenny Lewis who plays Haley. I had a childhood crush on her, & having seen recent pictures of her as an adult I can honestly say I’m crushing on her all over again.

I just had to mention that… Oh, & for the next video game tournament I enter I want THIS GUY announcing it:

The guy is an absolute legend. I also have to mention Frank McRae who plays Haley’s trucker friend “Spankey” (yes I kid you not, that’s his name in the movie) who also starred in my favourite Bond film “License to Kill”.

The whole atmosphere of the movie is pure 80s, from the music to the household decor. This was a time when Nintendo ruled the video game industry. It was an amazing time for a lot of people who are currently in their 30s & this movie represents a lot of the innocence from that era.

Before we close this review, let’s talk DVD extras for a second. There are none. Sorry, that might have been 2 seconds…

As a movie The Wizard is below average. As for it being a video gaming cult classic, well it’s definitely up there & is a record of the time that Nintendo were at their peak. If you love your video games, specifically Nintendo then you owe it to yourself to see this movie, regardless of the problems with it. At least it’s not as bad the Super Mario Bros movie. I can’t even bring myself to rewatch that piece of crap let alone do a writeup on it. I paid $10 for The Wizard & that’s about the going price on Ebay, so track down a copy & get ready for a nostalgia hit.

In 2008 there was a Wizard reunion. Yes, I kid you not, & yes Fred Savage was there, though Jenny Lewis sadly was not. There’s an excellent blog write up of this event at:

http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=8619004&publicUserId=4547783

It’s a good read, & I had no idea an hour of footage never made it into the film. Apparently it would have made some parts of the film less confusing. Here’s hoping for a director’s cut one day…

March 28, 2010
Amusementworx “Come & Play” Weekend



Amusementworx is a South Australian business that specialises in amusement machines. Whether you’re interested in arcade machines, pinballs or redemption machines, these guys know their stuff & can help start your arcade/pinball collection or service a troublesome machine.

Recently they made the move from Magill Rd to a new location at 285-287 Torrens Rd, West Croydon. To celebrate on the 27th & 28th of March weekend they held a “Come & Play” weekend. They left their machines on freeplay & let the public come in & have a go at some pinball or arcade classics. The staff were on hand to discuss any potential purchases or problems you may have with your machine, or just to have a chat about classic games in general. The 2 Simons who run the place are gamers from way back.

Unfortunately I couldn’t make it Saturday, but I decided to go Sunday. Time to get up & head out. The weather isn’t particularly encouraging…



… but since when has that ever stopped me from attending a gaming event? Danielle & I figured we’d drop by the Central Market for lunch first.



But you didn’t come here to read about that. Let’s fast forward to the good stuff…

Upon walking through the door we were greeted by 2 jukeboxes.



Amusementworx have recently employed a jukebox specialist so have started selling & servicing them. As you may be able to see from the image, this isn’t an MP3 or even a CD jukebox. We’re talking old school vinyl right here.

We walked through & were presented with a room full of games. Look to the left & there are games:



Look to the right & there are MORE games:



& is that a Doctor Who pinball machine?



Oh my GOD it is!! Simon actually had 2 of them on display, but you’ll need a cool $4000 before you can walk out the door with one. Still, at least I get to play it for a bit. Excuse me for a while…



… OK, I’ve got that out of my system. I just couldn’t hit that middle Dalek, no matter how much I tried… what else do we have here? Ahhh, a boxing game.



It detects your motion & looks really fun to play, though I didn’t actually get around to having a go myself… Danielle decided it was time to go before I could get around to it, & you can’t argue with women…



It was good to see the pinball machines on display but there were also some classic arcade games on show including the Simpsons & one of Danielle’s favourites: 1942.



2 Neo Geo MVS machines were on display along with a heap of other games



The middle of the room had a few tabletops with multiboards installed. Multiboards are arcade boards that have move than one game on them.



To avoid confusion, the Neo Geo MVS isn’t a multiboard machine, but rather a cartridge based system incase anyone was wondering. That’s all well & good, but what about if you like driving games? Well you would have absolutely loved it. There was a bit of Daytona…



… & yes all 3 of those machines were linked up. Maybe you prefer a bit of Sega Rally?



Well there you go. Or maybe you prefer a bit of Grand Prix Star 2?



& no, I hadn’t actually heard of that one before today…

Amusementworx also have a large range of parts & accessories available. They often have Neo Geo MVS cartridges in stock, & right now it looks like they have Street Fighter Zero 2 on CPS2… actually, why don’t I show you rather than sit here telling you?





& as you can see there’s another Neo Geo MVS system right next to it.

The business is taking a whole new direction at this location. Simon has at least 1 maybe 2 auctions coming up later in the year & is talking about hosting video game events. As for the auctions, I go to every one & I can assure you, you’ll have a good time even if you walk away with nothing. The machines to be auctioned are on display & on freeplay so you can try before you bid. We’ll let you know when it gets closer to the day & we’ll cover it when it happens. Keep an eye on their website at: www.amusementworx.com.au as Simon is promising some big things in the near future.