Monday, January 24, 2011

Amazon Expeditions - Star Wars Arcade for the 32X

Hell yeah.

Widely regarded as the only game worth owning on the 32X, Star Wars Arcade is a home port of - what else? - 1993's Japan-only Star Wars Arcade.  The game was nearly a dead-on copy of Atari's 1983 Star Wars arcade game.

This box has seen better days.

The game is complete - box, cartridge and manual, but the box looks like it's been through TSA security.  It's beat up, crushed, and violated - but it's complete.  The game cost only $6 shipped at Amazon through a private seller, so I won't complain about the state.  A complete Star Wars for $6 is fine by me.

Much better.
The cartridge, on the other hand, is in great shape - it seems to have spend most of its life inside the box.  Clean, unscuffed, and the label is perfect.  All in all, a solid investment.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Adventures in Game Shops - Virtua Racing Deluxe for the 32X

Today's newest acquisition - Virtua Racing Deluxe for my newest obsession, the 32X.  Purchased at a local used game store/pawn shop for $3.  You'll likely hear more about this game in the upcoming video review series... coming soonish.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Goodwill Hunting - Sky Shark for the NES

Here's a quick update - a Goodwill acquisition.  Taito's Sky Shark for the NES.  Not a rare find, but a boxed NES game for $1?  I'll take it.

All that's missing is an instruction manual - I'll rectify that later.

Goodwill is really starting to look like one of the best places to acquire random video games and hardware cheaply.  More aquisitions to come - stay tuned.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Some small victories.

The 32X CD version of Night Trap.

Despite the destruction of my Model 2 CD, I'm still mostly in business.  I'm able to use all three systems, and if you're a Model 2 Genesis user without a 32X patch cable, you'll want to pay attention.

The current setup: workable, but not recommended.

Above, we have a Model 2 Genesis and 32X plugged into a Model 1 Sega CD.  Not only is this setup ugly and lopsided, it's also unstable.  As you can see, there is no spacer between the 32X and Genesis, and the Genesis does not connect evenly to the Sega CD.  In other words, this will work, but if your kid, cat or dog decides to run across the floor, or hell, if the wind blows through the window too close to it, your game will freeze.

The power company loves me.

Even when set up correctly, it's a power hog.  3 separate AC adapters, one for each component - could this not have been just a little more efficient?

The adapter pictured at left is the replacement I ordered for the 32X.  I was promised an "authentic, original" Sega-branded adapter, and what I got was this generic garbage that doesn't even work with the 32X.  Works with the Genesis, so I just had to swap them out. Maddening, but I'll live.

In addition, my composite AV cable arrived, so no more RF ugliness.

The most important component, however, is the patch cable.  This was a proprietary cable that connected the 32X to the Genesis, and is absolutely required.  They go for $15-$30 on eBay and just about everywhere else on the internet.  The one pictured above works beautifully, and can be had for less than $10.  It can be ordered from here.

Note: I am not a shill for  I get nothing from posting this here other than the satisfaction that you didn't get ripped off buying a 32X cable on eBay.  Enjoy!

Sega CD Adjustment - Take 1

This is what the Sega CD Model 2's innards look like.  Not much to it, really.

As I mentioned before, my Sega CD Model 2 has a little problem with authority.  It's an issue of perception, really.  I think that discs should be treated with care, played gently, and returned to the case.  It thinks that they should have deep grooves cut into them.

Rather than agree to disagree, I set out to correct this issue.

That is seriously sideways. I'm surprised this thing played discs at all.

The photo above shows just how bad the spindle's alignment was.  Why so bad, you ask?  Apparently it was on its last legs.

Oh shit!

Weakened by time, rough treatment in a previous life?  Who knows - all I can say for certain is that it snapped right off when I tried to realign it.

The spindle motor looks easy to remove and replace, but sadly these parts aren't as common as they once were.  The best option right now is probably to gut an old portable CD player from Goodwill and steal its spindle for our purposes here.  More on that when I get a chance to track down the parts.

Also, as it turns out, the power connection to the mainboard is fine - it's the AC adapter that's faulty.  Guess I'll need to buy yet another.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Journey Through Project Mars: Sega's 32X

It occurs to me that many of you may not know exactly what the 32X is.  Let's get that cleared up, shall we?  I'll let Sega's advertising team tell you about it.

Wait, what?  Let's try that again:

...what the fuck was that?  Sign of the times, or ad executives on cocaine?  I'll let you decide.

What the above videos were trying to say is that the 32X was a 32-bit expansion for the 16-bit Sega Genesis.  In January of 1994, the aging Sega Genesis and SegaCD needed a boost.  Nintendo's Super Nintendo was stomping them, and it was time to begin work on a 32-bit console to crush the competition.

This new 32-bit console was targeted for the holiday season in 1994, less than 11 months development time.

Codenamed "Jupiter", it was to be a cartridge-based replacement for the Genesis.  In development, it was decided that CD technology was cheaper, so the project was modified, and Project "Saturn" was born.

The decision was then made to extend the existing Genesis console with a higher color depth and a 32-bit processor.  This new console was to be codenamed Project "Mars" and was released in November of 1994 as the 32X.

Holy crap, Sega.

The 32X was an absolute failure, despite Sega's best attempts to push it as the next big thing.  There were several reasons - the price was far too high for an add-on ($170), some launch titles were rushed so badly they were either awful or not much of an improvement over the Genesis - but Sega's largest detractor was Sega themselves.

The Sega Saturn was slated for release in September of 1995, positioned as Sega's "true" 32-bit console.  Why buy an expansion for your Genesis when the real next big thing is just around the corner?  The final nail in the coffin was the Saturn's surprise release in May of 1995, rendering the 32X obsolete in just 6 months.

The 32X is considered one of a string of bad decisions leading up to Sega's demise in the console market.

Sega Genesis Model 1 w/ SegaCD Model 1 and 32X

This was, without a doubt, a "right place at the right time" deal.  Goodwill had, hidden amongst their gigantic junk drawer of an electronics section, a Model 1 Sega Genesis - the early model with "High Definition Graphics" printed on the face, a Model 1 SegaCD, and the 32X attachment.  The three were, amazingly, priced as a set.

Yes, I did a double-take, too.  I took the set home for $12.99.

Upon powering it up recently with my Model 2 Genesis to test it, I found this in the drive tray.

So, a complete Genesis hardware set, with the Sega Classics 4-in-1 disc, for $12.99?  Hell yeah.

One caveat (of course there's a caveat) is that no controllers or cables were included.  This isn't a big deal, in the case of the Genesis and Sega CD - between them I'm missing two AC adapters, an audio patch cable, and a video cable.  This is a big deal in the case of the 32X, which is missing another AC adapter, a video cable, and, worst of all, a proprietary A/V patch cable that runs from the Genesis to the 32X.  In addition, a conversion cable is needed to use it with the Model 1, as the Model 1 had a completely different proprietary video connection.  These two cables are worth more than the 32X itself.

Even so, this promises to be worth the trouble when it's complete.  I'll keep you posted.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sega Genesis Model 2 w/ SegaCD Model 2

Acquired at last year's Portland Retro Gaming Expo, this set ran me $40, and came with two controllers, both A/C adapters and (eww) an RF adapter.  It'll need some cleaning, but otherwise it's great.

Upon trying to start it up, I learned a very important lesson about an untested SegaCD: always test it with a CD-R first.  On first attempt, the drive would not recognize a game disc and cranked out this hideous, holy-shit-I-broke-it kind of scraping noise.  I tried again, same result.  Pulling it out, I was greeted by a deep, circular scratch cut into the surface of the disc.

As it turns out, the spindle is prone to alignment issues - the spindle is actually spinning the disc right into the plastic.

The Genesis sometimes refuses to power up, but if you wiggle the AC plug around in the jack, it'll usually start.  After years of disuse, the solder joints from the jack to the PCB may weaken and break; this is a common issue with the Model 2 Genesis.

More on this set later - I'll document any repairs here.


Welcome to Famicomplex!

Welcome!  Let's jump right in.  In this blog, I intend to blather on endlessly about electronics, cartridges, and games you may or may not have ever heard of.

I'll chronicle my adventures in expos, yard sales, flea markets, eBay, Craigslist, and Goodwill.  I'll review games made before you were born.  I'll likely review games made before I was born.

I'll try to educate and entertain.  I'll try to make it accessible, but I'll need you to hold me to that.  I'll stop using the word "I'll".

After all, I will drone on.

And on.

And on.