Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On The Road with Super Bomberman 3

For the X-mas holidays, I traveled down to see my family in Atlanta and instead of taking along my DS or PSP or Advance SP, I just took my MacBook, a USB Sega Saturn controller and a SNES emulator.

My girl couldn't join me until laer in the week, so each morning over coffee, I would play Super Bomberman 3, a super awesome Bomberman title.

Being a huge Bomberman fan, I have been playing the later releases sparringly so as not to run of of titles to play, so this was a total treat. I used save states to make it through to the final boss in few days and as usual, he kicked my ass a number of times, even when I knew what his patterns were going to be. I'll have to practice some to finish the game off, but really, the levels are the best part of any Bomberman title, so maybe I'll let him live for now.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

DoDonpachi high score #3

So it's not going to trouble anyone over at shmups, but as I am playing for distance, I don't actually care about the score. Think of these as "distance high scores" or something.

Anyway, sick home for the third day running, and got tired of Mahou, tried Donpachi, remembered that I didn't like it, and started in on DoDonpachi.

Got to stage 6, the last stage in the first loop and made two careless errors taking my last two lives without getting off one bomb. 12 bombs wasted. Damn. Felt like the 1CC was coming up, but it just goes to show you nothing is certain until the credit screen. I still really like this game after years of playing it and really would like to make the 1CC of the first loop at some point. Problem is, that the first four stages are pretty easy and pretty boring, so as I tend to only play things that keep me excited, starting in after five or six credits on a game where the first 15 minutes are sleepwalking is hard to do.

That being said, I will still keep coming back to DDP and someday (hopefully soon) I will be nailing the clear.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mahou Daisakusen/Sorcer Striker high score #1


Started playing this again as I am home sick. Again. Gotta love flu season.

This has been on my wanted list for pcb's for a while now and I just started playing it for score. These runs were made with the Sorcer Striker rom set in mame to see if there are any differences and I can't tell if there are. Seems exactly the same to me, which makes sense as the region is set via jumpers on the board (EDIT: PLayed both a lot these past two days and I think there are differences, though subtle. Can't actually tell if they are just rank or differences in the rom, though).


Made it to the stage 6 boss and died twice on his early patterns to finish this run with a new high score of 1,396,060. Pretty close to the loop, may work on it some more soon.

Watching Battle Garegga master KET live II


In the last few weeks, KET has been rather sporadic with his playing live and those weekends when he has played, the games are, well, kinda sucky. Not that he's bad at them - he pretty much kills anything he's playing - but that you kinda of wonder why he's bothering with them in the first place.

Fox example, two weeks ago he played Majonng for an hour straight. Solo. No shooters at all that week from what I can remember, but my brain may have been mush from watching tile matching for way too long.

Them there are other weeks where he takes on some good classic shooters and gives you something to really sink your teeth into as you sit back and watch one of the best do what's their best at. This weekend was definitely one of those.


I started up Ustream and he was playing a UPL platformer, Ninja Kid, which actually was pretty cool. Weird, but it is UPL. He moved on from that to play some Garegga, playing a low rank Golden Bat run and dying on stage 6. Very nice. From Garegga, he moved onto R-Type. He stalled at stage 7, losing his life and powerups and trying at least 25 times via continue to make it past powered down and it just wasn't to be.

I stayed with him all morning until he signed off, which is a rarity recently. Normally, he'll start off playing stuff that like to watch and taper off into some terrible game and I start surfing the web, doing laundry or cleaning my apartment until he signs off. This last week was a pure delight and a pleasure to watch. Man, I really have something for superplays!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Persona 4 - Straight from the Back Catalog


I rarely get sick. For some reason, I have a pretty good immune system and seem to be able to stave off colds like brushing crumbs from my shirt.

Which is why I am blown away that I am sick again for the second time in a month.

I'm sure the new job has something to do with it. I had been working with just one other guy in the office for so long that I think my immune system just didn't have to work as hard. Doesn't hurt that that guy, Dave, was fit as an ox. Now I'm working with 78 other people around me and some are sick, some have kids who are sick and germs are just flowing everywhere.

So, I took off the Wednesday right before Thanksgiving and figured a 5-day weekend should be good to get healthy again.

It's also good for going through the back catalog of games I have - mostly RPG's - that I had bought and not had a chance to play. Last time I was this sick, I started Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne and tired of its ridiculously high difficulty rate and punishing battles and later, Earthbound which was very easy and didn't keep me going after a day of play with it.

This time I picked up Persona 4 for the PS2 and started where I left off after playing it once - 4 hours in.


It's a lot like Persona 3 - you have relationships to cultivate during the day, school to go to, studying to do and a random dungeon to blast through at night. Now, I loved Persona 3, but after 100+ hours, I kind of tired of it and I finished that almost right before this came out, so I didnt feel like more of the same at the time. Which is why it worked so good as a back catalog game.

The systems are familiar, the spells and personas as well and it took me a battle before I jumped right in and started playing.

It's a really fun game, a good, solid RPG fr the late in the tooth PS2 and a total gem for Persona fans. The story is actually better, a murder mystery of sorts with some good suspense and great characters. You can also control every character this time around, so there's no random bad decisions by your party in the middle of battle.

The music is good, better than 3 and after 10+ hours, I'm not tired of it. I'm going to be plugging away at this one for the weekend as I'm pretty much cooped up indoors, with some DDP and DOJ thrown in for good measure.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Road trip with Mark Alpiger of King of Kong


When we got back, I couldn't believe just how much we got done. We visited the prolific Walter Day of Twin Galaxies, three WR holders, visited Tim McVey who was in the middle of a 30+ hour marathon attempt of Nibbler (classic game by Rock Ola) and drove 800 miles in 48 hours. A massive amount of geekiness in such a short amount of time.

Mark and I have been talking about this trip for sometime as he wanted to go and visit Walter Day of Twin Galaxies, a friend of his and keeper of many vintage arcade goodies. Mark's a bit of a video game historian with quite possibly the largest collection of historical artifacts about early competitive video gaming next to Walter's.

As Walter Day has sold Twin Galaxies and is donating a massive amount of material from TG to the arcade museum, Mark wanted to go there and talk with Uncle Walter (as he calls him) to pick up some goodies.

On Friday night, Mark drove up from Kentucky and met me at my place with quite possibly the most amount of stuff I have ever seen anyone go on a road trip with. It took us three trips from him car to unload it all and when we were done, he was surrounded on my couch with a ton of gear including an air mattress, two pillows, bedding, two bags of food, a laptop and gear bag, a box of boards, two duffel bags of clothing, a pile of CAG goodies including King of Kong posters and DVD's and camera equipment with two tripods.

I have a Crystal Castles machine, one of only two classic arcades I own (the other being a vs. Nintendo cab for non-regular readers of this blog) and Mark is the former WR holder, so I definitely wanted to get some footage of him playing and also get a few tutorials as I am dying to hit 850K.

Once we started playing, Mark noticed that I have a rare version of the CC board - the conversion board - which is a bug-fixed version with a different end screen (trapazoids instead of cubes) and a new credit screen. we took some archival footage of him playing to show the differences and the Mark took a number of runs at the game, hitting a high score of about 836K, which he wasn't too happy with. Pretty good for not playing in some time for sure, but whenever we had time, hed play a game or two to try and ramp up that high score. We actually ended up leaving late on Saturday because he wanted to get in a few more runs!


We left my place at around 10 a.m. and headed up to DeKalb, home of Star Castles arcade, a hole-in-the-wall classic arcade where we met up with Paul Zimmerman, the current Phoenix WR holder. Paul and Mark talked it up for a while while I played Castlevania on a Playchoice cab and Stocker, a rare Bally/Sente game. After about an hour and a lot of picture taking by Mark and Paul, we split to make the long drive to Walter's place.

One of the funny things about road trips is that you ened up learning a lot about the person you are in the car with. Mark was no exception. We talked a lot about the 1980's when he started competitively gaming, playing in some of the first tourneys in 1985 and on. He met the current WR holder of CC and a good friend of his, Frank Seay at one of the Twin Galaxies tourneys and from there they started learning the game and perfecting patterns until Frank hit 910k+ and hit the new WR, which was never to be beaten.

I also learned a lot about Mark's musical tastes as we played Name That Tune with music from his laptop with him choosing the songs and me having to guess. I learned that Mark really likes a number of pop hits from the 1970's to present with no exceptions for hip hop, metal or whatever. A typical string of songs would be from Green Day, ABBA, Hataway (What is Love), POD, Bob Seger, The Bangles, Eagles, Devo, and ELO. Needless to say, I didn't know a ton of them but we did have a bunch of fun.

We hit Walter's place, an 1890's Amnityville style house late in the afternoon and hung out, going through old memorabilia and found mad amounts of stuff even he didn't know he had anymore, including the waivers from the infamous 1982 Life Magazine shoot, old score books from the 1980's original tourneys and one of the only remaining t-shirts Walter made celebrating Twin Galaxies home town of Ottumwa as the video game Capital of the World.


Walter was a gracious host and a lot of fun. He asked me a lot about myself and my gaming history and made me feel right at home, standing in the center of gaming history. I even got a chance to see the office and studio Walter is filmed in in King of Kong where he one day wants to settle down and record some music.

He rents out most of the house and only lives in two rooms in it - a small kitchen and a smaller bedroom. As he's big into transendental meditation, he doesn't seem to need a bunch of gear and he's really humble for a guy who has such an important place in video gaming history. I had Mark snap a quick shot of me and Walter as we left and carried out Mark's pile of goodies, including about 1000 Twin Galaxies arcade tokens and numerous other rule books, posters and promotional goodies.


From Walter's we headed to Tim McVey's place where he was in the middle of a WR marathon attempt of Nibbler by Rock Ola, the first coin-op version of Snake. He made video gaming history in the early 1980's when he was the first to hit 1 billion points on a video game- in this case, Nibbler. His house has a bunch of memorabilia from that time, including a key to the City of Okaloosa, IA, his home town.

He also use to be a prolific BMX racer in the 1970's and 1980's and has a wall of trophies and gear from that time. There was a room full of people there, helping him out and taking him through the long hours required to best the current WR. He took the time to talk with us, do an interview with Mark while playing and also watch some of the MMA fight on the big screen HD TV which took up a good deal of the front of the room.


He started trying to recapture his record this year when some documentary filmmakers asked him to attempt it. Afer he had hit 1 billion on it in the 1980's, he had won a machine from Rock Ola as part of a promotion, but didn't really feel like playing much after the 30+ hour marathon game and it collected dust for years, finally being sold by Tim. The filmmakers decided to try and track a machine down for him and found one on eBay which just so happened to be the personal machine of one of the game's creators. They quickly snapped it up and had the two programmers sign it and gave it to Tim earlier this year.

So far he's banked four or five attempts at the new record, only to be beaten back each time by fatigue and more often, his hand which would blister and bleed before coming close to finishing.

Back in the 1980's , Tm was racing BMX and had massive calouses on his hands, so it wasn't a problem then, but now, as a 40+ year old, his hands can't take that abuse. He's tried gloves, which didn't work, and a few other things, finally getting the sound advice to cover the pads of his hands in Super Glue and wrap them in flexible athletic tape, which seemed to do th trick when we were there, 14 hours into the attempt about at almost 400 million points.


We stayed for a bit, watching and recording and took off for Greg Laue's house, the former WR holder of Star Castle - Hard Chip version and home to a well-stocked personal arcade of about 30 classics, including Donkey Kong Gauntlet II, Pac-Man, Joust, Robotron, Tron, Star Wars and Elevator Action to name just a few. I played for as long as I could while Mark had instantly hit the sack when we arrived. Greg and I talked and played and my eyes started to cross at about 2:30 a.m. after a nearly 300K game of DK by Greg.

In the morning we headed out for home and said goodbye to Iowa for the time being.Thanks to everyone along the way that opened their home to us, Greg of the comfortable couch and Mark for the stories and companionship.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mark Alpiger of King of Kong plays DOJ

This past weekend, Mark Alpiger and I got together to take a bit of a road trip, meeting up with a number of classic arcade world record holders and notables, including Walter Day of Twin Galaxies.

The first night he came into town, he stayed with me and we played a bunch of Crystal Castles, but I also got him to play a round of DOJ. Surprisingly, he's played Dodonpachi a number of times. This was his first shot at DOJ, captured on film for posterity.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Alzadick & Final Soldier Caravan mode high scores



Couple new scores:

Alzadick - 2-Minute Mode - 559,950

Final Soldier - 5-Minute Mode - 2,123,900

Been playing the hell out of Star Soldier 2-Minute Mode as well and I have a 495K score, but cannot seem to break 500K, which is my goal. Got to get a better score there. Alo been trying to finish Final Soldier game mode and I hve got to the last boss three times inthe last two days and couldn't finish it off. As each play through is like 40 minutes, I haven't been able to practice the later levels enough to be consistent.

Personal Note:

Also, for those of you who were at the CAC 2009, I made the announcement that I got a new job and I am starting Monday at SRAM, a bicycle components manufacturer. It's a job I have been up for for a while and when they lifted their hiring freeze, I was he first one in the door. I'm very excited to say the least. Short ride to work, no more three-hour + commutes.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Chicagoland Autumn Carnival 2009 recap


First off, I have to give a big thank you to gunbird18 from bringing his Egret II all the way to Chicago for the event. A second big thanks to Dave for brining his cab and a huge thank you to mrtie for helping bring the cabs up and down the stairs and bringing with his massive amounts of gear, including the 360 to jamma set up that looked like it could launch the shuttle. Hella good guys.

Prodigous amounts of soda were consumed, but they were a distant second to the amount of credits that were played this weekend with an average of 4 hours of sleep each night and non-stop gaming the rest of the time. On more then one occasion, players were trying to get into the bathroom and if it was full, going back to playing another credit to maximise their gaming time. Dedication for sure. On Saturday, the cabs were turned on even before I got my coffee made and the sounds of Ketsui rang through the apartment as the rest of the neighborhood came awake.

Andi, stuminator and croikle tore up a number of games, with croikle taking first place in the Battle Garegga scoring contest with a 7,854,120 run ending at the triple planes on the Base. Andi took top honors at the Final Soldier contest with an amazing 706,100 in what turned out to be the most hotly contested scoring contest of the weekend with a constant line for 6 hours. Caravan games are truely STG crack.

stuminator captured the top score on the super secret Midnight Scoring Contast sponsored by Mark Alpiger and CAGDC, taking home a copy of King of Kong and a never-before-seen interview disc with Steve Wiebe, done by Mark Alpiger. szycag made a great last minute charge, but couldn't topple stuminator. He did win a copy of the interview disc, which he seems really stoked about. stuminator also almost made a 1CC a few times of Dangun Feveron, dying on the last boss each time that I saw. szycag and mrtie even started recording his runs to try and get a successful run on tape. Davey also won the informal Hudson Shot Watch contest with a 119. Just crazy. Had had the rest of the field by at least 10 shots.

I had a lot of fun and got some good gaming in with a no-miss of the first loop of Sky Shark which I have been working on on and off for two weeks. Also got to within two pixels of killing off Tyranosatan in Deathsmiles, almost making a low-rank clear on a game I have about 20 credits into. Great game, have no idea what I am doing for score.

I'm really happy with the way it turned out and I'm always impressed with the way everyone held themselves - very respectful and well-mannered. At some point someone dropped a few chips on the floor and came up to me to let me know and ask where the dust pan and broom was. Very cool.

Thanks to everyone for comming and I hope to see you all at the next one - Chicagoland Winter Carnival 2010.

Final Soldier - 2-Minute mode high score #2


After watching the Chicagoland Autumn Carnival contestants tear it up and seeing Andi get a 706,100, I sat down to beat it tonight and made what looked like a totally perfect run, finishing oiff the boss with 23 seconds left, setting a new high score at 720,100.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mushihimesama Futari 1.5 XBox 360 preview

Rarely do I post something like this, but it got me pretty excited to say the least. I owned the pcb for a while - my first full kit in fact - but never really connected with it at the time and I reallly have wanted to go back and see if it clicks.

It's old news to the shmup community that this is comming (late November) to the XBox 360 in Japan, but the gameplay and graphics look so stunning as to make me want to get a JP 360 to play this on - crappy hardware and importation costs be damned.

It doesn't hurt that the Deathsmiles port is stellar on the 360 or that ESPGaluda II is also coming with DFK an almost certain 2010 title and a possibility of Guwange (!!) hitting LiveArcade.

Check out this preview and see what awesomeness Cave is unleashing on us STG-crazed gamers. Follow the link to watch it in HD as well.

Steve Wiebe on Attack of the Show

So this was on a while back, but thanks to the goodness that is Hulu, you can watch it again! It's a pretty good interview for those of you who want a bit more Wiebe after The King of Kong, which I just watched again for like the tenth time.

Also - he's from Washington - got to rep my hometown - Seattle in the hizzy!

Fun Fact: Mark Alpiger, who appears quite a few times in the film is a friend and on last watching of this, he happened to call me during my screening of it, which is when we decided that Classic Arcade Gaming DC would sponsor the Midnight Scoring Competition of the Chicagoland Autumn Carnival '09.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thunder Dragon 2 high score #1


I never understood why some guys on the shmups board really dug NMK developed STG's. They always seemed sub-par and without much inspiration. Dave_K from shmups is an avid lover of all things NMK and when I saw this game listed on the 2009 STGT high score chart, I decided to give it a whirl, hoping that Dave_K's love for this little known developer was not just for the rarity of the pcb's alone.

On first playthrough, there's not much there. The music is totally forgetable, the graphics lack some sort of good visual connection and the gameplay is just average. Once you get going, its a whole 'nother story.

The game play very, very similarly to Twin Cobra and Sky Shark, but with only one shot type. There are loads of secrets in the game, like hidden sub-bosses when you destroy all of a series of enemies quick, much like Alzadick and some other caravan titles.

I got hooked and have just started to make it over a million regularly. It's not the worlds best shmup by any means, but it is a solid 7.5 out of ten and deserves a look in, especially for fans of Toaplan or early Cave titles. Dave_K's definately onto something here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Canabalt (Flash game) high score #1


I checked this out after seeing a thread on it in the "Off Topic" section of shmups and I am hopelessly addicted. It's a fun game, a platformer with one button (jump) and no directional necessary. You run and jump over buildings, through plate glass windows, avoiding quickly dropping atom bombs and boxes. It required some good twitch skills and like a lot of flash games, it starts quickly, so you keep wanting to play when you die.

The soundtrack and in game sound effects are excellent and perfectly atmospheric, driving you on your adventure across the rooftops. There's even good background animation of giant alien beings tearing up the city and at around 4-5K, a spaceship appears ominously in the background.

Each play through is a randomly generated level design and the real skil comes from hitting boxes to slow down at the right times and being able to time your jumps in and out of windows. There doesn't seem to be an end to the game, so your distance is all that really matters.

I hit 10K a few days after playing and then 11K, 13K an finally got this 17,296 score, which is pretty good, if I do say so myself.

The game is not without its faults and there are impossible jumps to be had, like running off a building to break through a window that's too low to actually get to and smacking into the side of a building instead, but you forgive those moments.

Do yourself a favor and go check this out: . It's a seriously fun game and for once, I'm excited about a flash developer.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Blast Off high score #1


Namco System 1 games are pretty awesome in general with so many great titles like Galaga '88, Pacmania, Marchen Maze, Dangerous Seed and may fav of them all - Blast Off.

It's a vertical scrolling shmup, similar to Dangerous Seed but with the graphics and feel of Galaga. It's so unique, however, that it pretty much blows Galaga and its brethren out of the water.

There are three different stages of each of the levels - a lead up to the space station, a fight to get into the space station and then, the fight through the space station and boss fight. The last stage sees your ship sprite blown up on screen as if the camera zoomed in. It makes the fighting feel more intimate and the close quarters are suitably claustrophobic, but very, very cool nonetheless.

Andi from the shmups forum stopped by last weekend and we played a bunch of stuff for something like 7 hours and spent a good deal of time on Blast Off. We finally made it to the 5th stage, which is where I set this first high score.

Like many good old school titles there is a simple shooting system (four different types of shots selectable with the B button, fire with A) and really fun gameplay. The OST is good, but not really amazing. It does fit the game and make the whole package a good vintage shmup worth a look in.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Twin Cobra II 1CC + high score #1 (and probably final)


If you have ever read this blog, you know I'm: A) a fan of old school games and B) a fan of Toaplan. I knew that Takumi, one of the few companies to start up with ex-Toaplan employees after they shut their doors in 1994 had created a sequel to Toaplan's Twin Cobra, but I didn't get into it the first time I played it and just left it sitting to the side.

Going back through some of the titles I have on my new NEC + PC gaming system, I found Twin Cobra II and decided to give it a try and while its pretty fun, it might just be the easiest game I have ever played.

That's not to say its a bad game. It's actually pretty fun, feeling more like a Raiden title than a traditional Toaplan one, but one that feels like a good, old school shmup. The soundtrack is incredibly forgetable, with weak stage music similar to that of the Gigawing titles. The sound effects are ok, but lack that solid feeling of Toaplan's better efforts.


It took me about ten or fifteen play throughs and I 1CC'd it with an end score of 7,830,040. Pretty weak, but I'm not sure when I'll get back to playing it. Like I said, its not bad, but it lacks excitement and a good driving soundtrack. It's kind hard to die after a while and it almost seems like the game is too easy when you have a few sections memorized. You also get a crazy amount of bombs, which can double in strength once you fill your bomb counter full to five.

One of the best parts of the game is one of the sound effects when the game rotates the attract screen to the high score board - it sounds vaguely like Tron and Tron is good.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Out Zone high score #1


Such a fun game. Toaplan didn't make many bad games and Out Zone is one of the very good ones. Dave and I set out to see how far we could get and after a few days of playing seriously, I made it past the halfway point and set a new high score for myself at 771,090.

For a run-and-gun / shmup hybrid, its amazingly fun and well-put together, with good stages and a good, if slightly dated sounding (for today) soundtrack. All of the the hallmarks of Toaplan are here - fun scoring system, few hidden things, good special weapons and well-thought out stage design and graphics.

It's a pcb I'd love to own (like many Toaplan titles) but I think I need to get myself an autofire pcb first. This game, like Tatsujin and Batsugun, is better with autofire by a long margin.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

New machine - PC turned into emulation box


After years of decrying Mac owners as left wing computer snobs, I have finally put my PC days behind me and bought a Mac. It's a MacBook to be precise and I am totally in love. It does everything my PC did, but its like someone designed a computer operating system to actually be fun and intuitive rather than laborious.

But rather than sit here and go on and on about why Mac's are awesome (which they are), I'll actually focus on what I did with the boring ol' PC.

Like a lot of STG and arcade fans, I use mame from time to time to try out games I may want to own. I'm not a big fan of using it and definitely prefer the original hardware to an emulated version, but there are instances where it totally makes sense. Especially in an apartment.


I have become enamored with Donkey Kong 3 and the original Donkey Kong recently and have been searching out a dedicated machine for the better part of a month to no avail. Finding one really isn't the problem, though as I have run out of room in the gaming area. As it is right now, I have to move the CC to the basement or possibly in the partition off the kitchen (where we currently have our bikes) when I move the vs. cab in and getting another cab would mean even more moving around of junk to try and find space we really don't have.

So, I put two and two together and came up with mame.

My old PC was ok, not really top of the line or anything, but it runs mame fine - a perfect place to play DK 3 and the like on. I wiped the hard drive and set it up on my NEC XM29 and it sparkles. Super fun and easy to use, I'm really enjoying it. That is, except for the vertical tearing and lack of sound in some roms and the myriad of other problems with mame, but nonetheless, being able t play DK 3 in my gaming room without making any changes is pretty cool.

Monday, August 17, 2009

New PCB: vs. The Goonies


The kit arrived today from oregonarcade from KLOV and it's pretty sweet. I actually have the game for Famicom, but this is one of the few vs. games I wanted to have. When it popped up for $60 shipped, how could I say no?

If you have played The Goonies II for NES and wondered where The Goonies I was in the states - it was in the arcade. It was also released for the Famicom in Japan and for some reason, even though they brought it here in the arcade, they never brought it out for the NES. It's a pretty fun game as far as platformers go with a ton of secret items that make the game more fun. In fact, half the fun of the game is searching for the items!


I hooked it up and got it running in the vs. cab and I'm really stoked I own this. I'll have to get some more tim in on it and make some maps for the later levels which get rather confusing. The time limit is pretty strict so you really have to move.

I'm going to be on the lookout for other vs. games and a Donkey Kong 3 machine (which I have a line on) but first, I have a second Astro City purchase to wrap up...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

vs. Castlevania - no-hit Grim Reaper stage run (stages 13-15) on by me

Did this run as kinda of a tester to see what the resolution of Linda's camera was like when shooting the vs. arcade on my tripod. I ended up having a junky, but no-hit run of the Grim Reaper stage (stages 13-15) and had some good moves in it, so I cropped it out of the full length video and put it up on youtube.

The actualy run of the game had me making a few mistakes on the last set of stages and some really stupid deaths, so I didn't bother with the whole thing.

And, yeah, that's Dave talking to me in the beginning.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Chicagoland Autumn Carnival 2009 - Oct. 2nd through the 4th


Time for another Chicagoland meet!

The old thread at shmups forums has been updated and the commentary on the October meet starts at page 4. Just like last time, there will be cabs - this time hopefully 4 - console games, my vs. Castlevania, plenty of beer and refreshments and a whole lot of time to get some shmupping on.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New cab: vs. Castlevania (woohoo!)


I'm so stoked on the cab, I can't even begin to tell you. I have been after a vs. cab in which to house my vs. Castlevania pcb for a little over a year and even started looking at vs. cabs 5-10 hours away, just so I could get it up and running.

A little while after I almost pulled the trigger on getting a vs. The Goonies in Iowa (about ten hours round trip), I found this vs. cab on Craigslist Milwaukee about an hour and a half away and pounced on it like a fat man on a free cupcake.


It started life as a Donkey Kong and became a vs. Golf and now lives on as a vs. Castlevania. It was in amazingly good shape and had very few problems: the marquee light was burnt out, two microswitches missing from the controls, few cigarette burned buttons, cracked t-molding. All are easily fixable and I did fix a number of them last night when I spent four hours stripping the parts out of the cab, cleaning it and reassembling it. Those of you who know me rather well, know I can be a bit anal. I even rebuilt the buttons for the cp - ones which I will be replacing shortly.

The monitor is in excellent shape, the cab has no water damage whatsoever, both coin mechs work, all the trim bits are in the cab, the bezel is in near mint condition and the side art is 95% there.

I started to take it apart and wanted to make sure the board fired up and popped it into the cab and viola - it fired up right away. The speaker sounds great and actually throws out some bad ass bass that makes the game sound even more awesome (if that's even possible).


Last night, I played about a dozen games as I was cleaning and making trips back and forth to Home Depot to replace hardware and other bits and loved every second of it. Playing with a joystick is awesome and allows you even greater control over Simon.

I played one game this morning after getting to work and 1cc'd it with Dave watching, only dying once on Dracula, who can kill you in three hits. Brutal.

I do have a vs. The Goonies kit on the way for it and vs. Golf is actually one of my secret favorite NES games, so that will definately get some play time as well.

Thanks to Linda who contributed to the vs. cab fund for my b-day present, Jason (shackleford) for the vs. Castlevania pcb and Scott over at Hyperspace Arcade Entertainment ( for the mint NOS marquee.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Playing Castlevania III on the road, some changes soon to come to the gameroom...


In much the same way I have a hook up for my PS2 when I am on the road, I realized that I could very easily bring my NES with me on the road, which is exactly what I did this week.

The best part is that I don't need a connector as its the old coaxial hook up. Easy peasy. I brought along The Goonies, The Goonies II, Bionic Commando (I swear, I will learn to like this game), Castlevania and Castlevania III as I am attempting to play through it again to work up to the 1CC.

There is one thing you should not do when on the road though and that's throw the controller in the room. Most hotel rooms are small, mine being no exception. After a pretty tricky section and subsequent cheap hit in III, I lost my last life in a pretty egregious manner and started to whip my controller forward and realized there was a very large mirror in the way.

I forced my hand downward just in time and released the controller against the ground, which hit the nearly empty dresser and made a very loud ka-thunk. I waitied for the sound of someone comming and sheepishly sat there - but nothing happened. I felt like a baby, but hey, Castlevania can get the blood up and the Italian in me is very demonstrative.

I have been working the early levels repeatedly and now I am starting on level 7 and above to playthrough the lead up to Dracula's castle. The opening stage of the castle is sooooooo cool - Vampier Killer playing just like the first part of the original Castlevania - that it makes me smile.

My downtime this week has been split between the NES, running and the internet, where I have recently bought quite a few new additions to the collection that I am VERY excited about.

The first actually started last week when I found a Nintendo vs. Golf cab for sale about an hour and a half from me and worked it out with the seller to come by and get it this Monday. Now I have a home for my vs. Castlevania boardset! Yeah!

Shortly there after, I saw a posting from oregonarcade on KLOV selling a vs. The Goonies kit and snatched that up, along with a few black vs. kit cases.

I also grabbed a NOS marquee from Scott over at Hyperspace arcade for the vs. Castlevania and lastly, contacted a guy about getting his Donkey Kong 3 arcade, a game I really love and probably the only other Nintendo cab I could see owning. Pretty busy weekend for sure!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Classic Game Boy titles and hidden gems


It's amazing what was possible on the Game Boy. I remember thinking when I was a kid that a portable Nintendo would be just about the awesomest thing ever and I wanted a Game Boy like nothing before. Luckily, I did get it for my birthday the year it came out and got a few games shortly there after, like Super Mario Land, Castlevania Adventure and of course, Tetris.

I hadn't picked up a game for the original Game Boy for ages, having moved on to the Advance and then the DS and left all those black and white (or black and green) games behind. But recently, I started to feel nostalgic for SML and decided to get a few other gems for the system while I was at it.

SML is an excellent addition to the Mario universe - if only an easy one. I beat it time and time again as a kid and loved every minute of it. The music is so good in the whole game that when I think of SMB music, this is the game I think of. The levels are strange for sure (Mario in Egypt anyone?) but the game play is classic Mario and really, really fun. The graphics are a bit smaller and the game is very short, but it's a very fun quick game for sure. I did beat the game on my first playthrough after 20 years, but I still love it.

In the cavalcade of GB fun, I also picked up a copy of Metroid II, which I have been interested to play for quite some time. Metroid II is kind of a typical Game Boy game: larger sprites to match their graphic design to their console counterparts and tinny music, but the game is much more than just these two weaknesses. The game play is actually fairly linear where you are only able to access sections of the world after beating other sections. There is no map but one isn't needed. You just keep pushing forward. It's pretty enjoyable overall.

SML 2 followed shortly there after and what an improvement over SML! The sprites are more inline with other Mario titles of the 8-bit era and the worlds feel like they fit into the Mario universe better. There are alot of good moments in the game. It is much longer and really is a more realized world that does justice to that era of Mario titles.

Castlevania Adventure is not one of the best titles on the GB - Simon moves slower than a sloth and the game is ridiculously hard. Back in the day, I could only get a level or two in. But with Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge, all those problems are fixed and the game, while my time with it is limited, is one of the best Game Boy titles.

There are also the Dragon Warrior titles (1-3), two of which - 1 & 2 - are included on one cart. They are slightly easier than their console counterparts and awesome RPG's for such a small system.

But the absolute creme of the crop has to be The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. It's so close to a console feel on a pportable system that its hard to believe its about 20 years old. The game is super fun with an awesome story and remains one of the best Zelda games period. No kidding.

The game takes place on an island and there are a number of typical Zelda game play elements - getting weapons/items to solve dungeon problems, collecting things after beating the bosses to lead up to the end encounter (in this case, it's musical instruments) and a fun, sprawling, open world adventure complete with all your classic Zelda favorites.

I have been playing it non-stop for a week and I forgot just how good the game is. It's massively engaging and has a great story, which I won't spoil here, but it does keep you wanting to see what's next, which is really all you could ask.

I only hope Nintendo realeases some of the classics on DSi-ware - but you can always get out your Super Game Boy, or your GB Advance SP, or even the original black and white GB, relive - and possibly discover - some great GB titles.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Same! Same! Same! (MD) high score #1


The Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) is not one of my favorite consoles, but you can't completely turn your back on a console that has a unique-to-the-platform Castlevania title in Bloodlines and a ton of shooters. I actually own a Mega Drive and a Genesis, so for not really liking the console, I seem to have all the bases of it covered.

What I do like, however, is a change of pace from time to time and console shooters, at least back in the day, usually offer an easier challenge than their arcade counterparts. This is most certainly the case for the Toaplan titles that ended up on the MD/Genesis and everyone in a while I track on down for a buck or two on the internet and go to town.

Same! Same! Same! (Fire Shark in the US) is the sequel to Hishou Zame (Sky Shark in the US) and is a pretty decent title. It doesn't quite compare to Hishou Zame, with kinda bland sound, strange power-ups for your weapon and the need to actually dodge weapon change icons for a long time on screen lest you lose the needed red fire shot or blue spread at a critical stage of the game. The same thing happens in Twin Cobra (can't spell the Japanese equivelent off the top of my head), but the power ups dissappear off the bottom of the screen fairly quickly. In Same! they seem to hang around for an age and it gets annoying pretty quickly, but you do eventually have to accept it.

I busted out my copy, which is actually a Fire Shark cart, but when plugged into my MD, it comes up as Same!, which is pretty cool. I believe the same thing happens for Tatsujin/Truxton and Twin Hawk/Daisenpuu.


I played through the first loop of the game on my second or third play through on the default settings - which are marked as 'easy' - and then gave it a few more runs through to get to this high score at 4,487,740, ending the run in the second loop at stage 18. Not bad and a pretty fun game. It put me up pretty high on the shmups scoreboard for the MD version and I may attack it on normal and see what I can do.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Staying Home Sick with the Pile of Shame and my NES


Everyone has a pile of shame - that large, frequently growing pile of games you buy, but don't play right away that sit next to your gaming station like some poor, lost children waiting for the love of their parents to finally come.

When I get sick, which isn't all that frequently, I end up tackling some of the games in my pile of shame, trying to justify buying tons of stuff that I never seemingly play - until I have no choice to but to amuse myself whith what's in the house. I have been able to curb my prodigous video game spending to the point where I actually need to go buy something new at times, but neverethelless, I have a number of games collecting dust and years in my geeks' library.

So this last week when I was home sick for 5 straight days, I decided to go on an NES-centric blast of some titles I never got to.

First on the list was Zelda II - The Adventure of Link. I had seen the game plenty when I was a kid. I remember it being a pretty big deal when it came out as the original Zelda had garnered quite a hardcore audience by then. I saw it at a friends house and really didn't get it. It seemed like a combination of two very disperate things - namely platforming and rpg's. I passed on it as good NES games seemed to be comming out every other day back then.


I picked it up for the first time since I saw it last in the late 1980's and gave it a go. First thing I noticed, the music was bland and tried too hard to be as majestic and special feeling as that of the first game. The overworld maps were totally devoid of any personality or good design. The creators should have really looked at Dragon Quest to see how to set up a good overworld, one that invites you to explore rather than look for the shortcut every time.

The controls aren't too bad, but there are issues with collision detection from time to time, tying your opponent and both scoring hits, which can be frustrating, especially when your un-upgradable sword is so short.

I went back to the pen and paper for mapping out dungeons and it really brought me back. I can't tell you how many maps and notes I took for NES games and it felt good to be doing it again. I mapped all but the last dungeon, mostly becuse its so freaking huge and I knew the pattern - left, right, right, left at the intersections - which helps not waste as much time as the dungeon wants you to.

I played the game through until the last dungeon and just lost steam. It takes forever to transverse the set-piece battles to even get to the dungeon and the dungeon is needlessly long, with a ton of rooms with one or no enemies inside. But that doesn't matter as much as the fact that those few enemies are crazy powerful and will take you out very quickly. Most aren't even worth fighting - running is definately the best tactic, especially as most lack any patterned movement at all.

Once you get to the last boss, everything is pretty much cake, from what I understand, but I just don't care to finish it. It misses for me on a number of levels - visually, its pretty uninspired and gone are all the enemies you came to love/hate from the first Zelda, which kinda kills the nostalgia factor.

The platforming is actually prety good, especially when you get the downward and upward stab movements and can blast through most screens pretty quickly, even if you are just bouncing along the tops of your enemies heads to get through the random battles.

Not a bad game, but not one of the NES's best and certainly not for anyone but the vintage-ly curious.


Next on the list was a game I had absolutely no time with - and for good reason - it was never released here. Earthbound for the NES was a rare one - translated and finished, it never saw the light of day in the US until some fans found the rom data and dumped it for all of the world to enjoy. I had a reproduction cart made at (along with Summer Carnival '92 - Recca and Super Mario Bros. 2 Japan) and I have been waiting for a rainy day to play it. It wasn't raining, unless you count the massive ammounts of mucus I seemed to be producing in unlimited quantities.

If you read this blog from time to time, you'll know I love me some old-skool RPG action. I like to grind, I like overworld maps, I have played Final Fantasy 1 to conclusion at least five times - all on the NES - and I have played through all of the Dragon Warrior titles we ever got here. So I was pretty excited to play this, especially as the fans of the series are legend.

In short, I had a blast. Awesome music, great overworld maps, a really sprawling world to play in and a bit of necessary grinding makes for a very good NES game. I played the first five or so hours with a smile on my face and just dug the hell out of it. It's slow, but old-skool slow and it's graphics, gameplay and music are dated for sure, but it's a helluva lot of fun. When you get a chance to discover something like this, it's pretty rare and should be cherished and that's what I did in my couch-bound state - cherished the hell out of it.


I laughed the first time I had to fight a hippie, I buckled down when I needed to find the young girl in the cemetary and I marveled at the dream world Magicant, a place so rare for games - a dream world that feels like it.

That's about as far as I got while I was sick and I may return to it, but as my hours for gaming are not optimal when I am not home on the couch sick, we'll see. I may save it for another future day with nothing to do.

I also decided to give Bionic Commando another shot and just didn't click with it for like the tenth time. I know there's something there, but I'll be damned if I ever find it.

At one point, I did try out SMB 2 Japan, but holy hell its tough. Not for the faint of heart. I haven't played SMB 1 in years and I couldn't make it past the first level without dying a lot more than I should. I'll save that for another sick day.