Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Aero Table - rare cocktail shmup goodness


Browsing KLOV a few weeks back, I found a guy selling a Sega STV board with a Die Hard cart and natural curiosity got me to click on the post and see what's up, even though I already have an STV board with a Die Hard cart.

Once I clicked on the clink, I saw a pic of the game playing in - what's this! - a Sega Aero Table, a rare, Japanese cocktail candy cab.

I contacted the seller and told him I wasn't interested in the game but I was in the cab and we struck a deal fairly quickly for little money. I was stoked.

Getting the game was a bit of a pain, but the seller was good about finally delivering it while I was in Las Vegas, loading it into the trailer as we were preparing to leave, so kudos to him for the good timing!

We brought it back, Dave and I, driving back across country from our big trade show and I was stoked as hell to try it out. The previous owner Kryloned it, but it doesn't look to bad, so I may keep it that way for a while as I assemble all the stuff to make it really nice - like a good CP, some Sanwa sticks and buttons and a monitor fix as it has a nasty pincushion issue.

We popped in DDP DOJ and played a number of credits and both of us were blown away by the crisp, clean picture from the Nanao dual-res monitor. This thing looks even better than my Astro City!


We had it up on the pallate jack as its a bear to move around - no fiberglass on this one - but the angle at which you play it is very natural and it should be alot of fun to game on. The monitor also rotates very easily - more so than my Astro City - and I can even turn it upside-down to play Beastie Feastie, which will be great.

It's missing the coin door and the coin mech, but I'm not too worried about those. I may get something fabricated in the future, but for now, I'm going to see how sharp I can get it without a paint job, one piece at a time. I have a very good condition cp on the way from mastercello on shmups and I'll be ordering a new monitor bezel from Happ, which is on my way home from work and some new sticks and buttons from Lizard Lick Amusements.

On the bonus side, it does have the fore mentioned Nanao dual-res monitor for when I feel like getting Ikaruga or Crackdown. The seller also cut and painted a new piece of glass for the cocktail top so its as clear and perfect as it will ever be.

It's a very nice addition to the small stable of machines I own and I'll be keeping it at work for a while, installing bits and pieces and hopefully getting someone to work out the pincushion issue before I bring it home to its stablemates.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ketsui: Love


Just glancing back through my blog, I noticed my first high score post and just how far I have come this year in Ketsui.


Since I started playing this game seriously, I have been able to hit 64 mil as a high, but routinely I can hit 60 mil getting to stage 4 now. As I am working on solid stage 4 patterns, feel like I have reached that level of understanding where you start to see the bullets before the hit the screen and know somewhat instinctively how enemy ships will move.

Just last night, I sat down to pump in a few credits and almost beat my high score, except that I ate it twice close to the end of stage 4. By credit feeding, I have some good patterns of stage 5 and really love playing that stage more than any other in the game. Each section you pass without dying feels like a major accomplishment and each also requires its own game plan, kind of like learning to play a song from sheet music - the notes are there for you to play at set times, but all of the flair comes from what kind of style you put into it.

I certainly don't need to tell you that it's a great game. Many people have already said what I could say about its fantastic gameplay, its tremendous musical score and its beautiful sprites. But, this game keeps me interested like no other has before it.

There is a certain amount of raw adreneline that gets generated just by playing stage 1 that it's hard to compare it to anything else. The scoring system drives you to be aggressive instead of punishing you for it and the gameplay just gets better stage after stage, throwing more and more at you, but with recognizable (and beautiful) bullet patterns so that you can differentiate each small section of each stage very easily.

It's really captured me and I feel close to the 1-ALL happening, but can already feel myself dreaming about the 2-ALL...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Finally - Sega Saturn, NES, SNES, GBA Gamecube player


A few weeks ago, Dave came into the city for his birthday and we went out to this African place around the corner from me, Bolat, over on Clark, just North of Belmont. On our way there we happened upon the most improbable store in the best of locations - a vintage video game store called People Play Games right up the street from me.

Our jaws dropped and we went in, stunned that such a place could exist a scant few blocks from my apartment. It's not like there is any lack of video game stores in the area as I have five Gamestops within walking distance of my apartment, but one that carries anything older than Gamecube titles is certainly a rarity as I know of no other such place.

I walked in, stunned at the amount of titles from systems as old as the Odyssey, Channel F and 2600 to some hard to find PS1, Sega Saturn and SNES titles such as Persona, Mega Man 8 Anniversary Edition and Chrono Trigger. I left shortly there after for dinner, but went back the next morning and dropped a small bundle of cash and got a whole bunch of games and consoles.

One of the big bonuses is that they clean their systems, games and peripherals with a religious like devotion, as if they were curators in a museum and not just a retail sales store. That first day, I bought a GBA Gamecube player, something I wanted for quite some time, a boxed copy of Metroid Fusion for the GBA and two games for the SNES, SMB RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (which is what's playing of the SNES in the above pic).

A few days later I stopped back in and could help but to buy a Sega Saturn and later bought Batsugun, DoDonpachi and Cotton 2 from a member on shmups, which I am waiting for with bated breath. I also picked up Metroid Zero Mission for the GBA, a fantastic remake of the NES Metroid with an Epilogue chapter at the end that is pretty difficult, even for a Metroid fanatic such as myself.

And a day or so after that I saw a posting on Craigslist for a top loading NES and six games for $50. Needless to say, I called up the poster of the ad and ran out to Joliet to get it from a slightly shady trailer park, greeted by a camoflauge-clad, knit cap wearing kid who had even wrapped everything in bubble wrap, which was a nice touch. What wasn't a nice touch was that the NES smelled like it had been living inside of an ashtray for the better part of its life and I had to drive back to Chicago with the windows open.

Then it was back to People Play Games to pick up Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse and a new NES controller.

I have been glued to the TV ever since.

PCB collecting can be a pretty expensive hobby as kits will run upwards of $2,000, but vintage gaming is exceedingly cheap and there are no lack of great titles to go back to and a bevy of new ones to discover, such as Castlevania III, which I had never played before, but I cannot put it down at the moment.

Not only is it relatively inexpensive, but the wealth of Sega Saturn titles alone should be enough to convince and shmup fan that they need to own one. Granted, most are imports, but all can be played with a cheap cart that opens the Saturn up to all regions. I'm really looking forward to playing Batsugun and Cotton 2 and maybe even getting a clear in DDP, but that may take some time.

For now, I'm stoked to have so many good games to play and such a great place to go to get them. I just need to make sure that I leave some money in the account to pay for boring stuff like rent, food, etc...