Currently playing:

Sunday, December 30, 2007

DOJ serial number

So having sold my Dodonpachi Dai-Ou-Jou PCB to a friend, I got around to plugging in my spare DOJ board to play a few rounds. Unfortunately this is the first time I booted it up since winning it on YAJ almost 6 months ago (mostly wanted it for the original artwork that came with it). Turns out player 2 bomb button did not work. :-( Whats worse is that this was actually a sealed DOJ, in that the blue case still had the cave sticker fully intact! So I did the dirty deed, broke the seal, and found something pretty cool inside.

Turns out I have PCB number 0014 of god knows how many. Being one of Cave's most popular games in Japan means this is a real treat thinking which game center this board was originally installed at, how long it sat there, and how many Japanese pro's played on it.

Getting back to the problem at hand, turns out that the battery had leaked acid and must have cut through one of the traces (not really noticeable being inside the blue case). I was able to easily solder a wire from the edge connector to the coupling capacitor to restore the connection, even though visually it didn't look like the trace was broken. Damn old batteries. I'm tempted to just unsolder it and leave it without the battery since I never change the defaults anyway, and always use coins to start my games.

Friday, December 21, 2007

And hilarity ensues...

I don't normally IRC, but decided to log into #shmups while doing my daily rounds of shmup reading on the net. Usually I don't see people chatting, outside the occasional grunts and screams from shoe-sama, but tonight there was action, and one very funny video.

Shoe-sama was attempting to replicate this 19 chain puyo puyo fever combo after watching a Japanese replay on youtube. Here is the original replay. Note near the end the guy keeps flipping the puyo puyo's in the air above the bar and somehow gets them to disappear so the next set comes in. Not sure if this is a known feature or bug, but its what allows him to pull off this 19 chain combo.

Now watch shoe-sama attempt to replicate this feat. The sound is crappy because he captured it using an external microphone, but makes this all the more funny when you hear him wailing the controller at the end trying to pull off that move, then learns why emulators suck.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sanwa and Seimitsu mounting plates

I was digging through my arcade junk boxes and found a total of six different types of joystick mounting plates. To help me remember, and to share with anyone else who cares, I snapped some pics and added descriptions of which plates work with which machines/panels/sticks.

Disclaimers: I do not know the actual part numbers of these plates for ordering, and the names I use may not be official product names. I am not offering any for sale here. This is just a pictorial reference to understand what type/shape of plates are out there for Japanese arcade control panels (Sega/Namco/Konami).

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1: Sanwa flat mounting plate which fits my Namco Exceleena square control panel (with four mounting posts welded to the panel). Note: this plate should come with 4 small nuts which go INSIDE the sanwa stick, and 4 small screws. This is used to secure the plate to the stick.

2: Sanwa S-Plate used to mount a Sanwa stick to an original Sega Astro City (type 1) panel. Note: this plate should come with 4 small nuts which go INSIDE the Sanwa stick, and 4 small screws. This is used to secure the plate to the stick.

3: Chinese flat mounting plate (also has 2 holes for Sanwa) which fits my Namco Exeleena square control panel (with four mounting posts welded to the panel). For Sanwa sticks, use the 2 above/below holes, for Chinese sticks, use the 4 holes.

4: Seimitsu flat mounting plate which fits my Namco Exceleena square control panel (with four mounting posts welded to the panel).

5: Seimitsu shallow S-Plate used to mount on an original Sega Astro City (type 2) panel.

6: Seimitsu S-Plate used to mount on an original Sega Astro City (type 1) panel.

For further reference, here are some pics of my panels with various sticks/plates mounted.

Free Image Hosting at Astro City (type 1) panel, with Seimitsu Stick and plate #6.
Free Image Hosting at Astro City (type 2) panel, with Seimitsu Stick and plate #5.
Free Image Hosting at Namco panel, with Sanwa Stick and plate #1.*
*This also fits perfectly on an Astro type 2 panel.
Free Image Hosting at Astro City (type 2) panel, with Chinese Stick and plate #3.**
**This is a hack, note the two orange zip ties on the bottom since the holes did not exactly line up.
Free Image Hosting at Konami Windy panel, with Sanwa Stick.***
***No plate needed, as this panel has built in metal mounting points for above/below screws).

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Its Mame-o-licious

My Namco Exceleena Blue cab has gone through several major changes over the years. When I first got it, I completely gutted the insides, replaced the monitor, converting it into a 31khz Dreamcast machine (poor man's Naomi GD system). About a year ago I restored it back to Jamma compatible, and bought an MGCD and JPAC so I could play all three: Jamma, Consoles, and Mame/PC games. I never paid much attention to Mame though, since it didn't match up to the real PCBs I already own, except for the fact that you can practice using savestates. But recently, I started playing more hidden jems that were either hard to track down the PCB, or not worth adding to my already bloated collection. Thats when I decided to get more serious about my mame setup.

So I updated the cab once more, before the last shmupmeet. Its still Jamma compatible (and console compatible via MGCD), but is now running Windows XP with the Mala front end. Mala not only supports vertical displays, but it also has a plug-in architecture allowing other developers to write add-ons, like this cool Serial LED display plug-in. And it just so happens that I had a Beta Brite LED sign that I knew would come in handy some day. :-)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pink Sweets bug, I mean feature confirmed

Apparently the reason why nobody plays this game in Japan anymore is because of a bug which causes players to get infinite lives when you roll the ship count (at the top of the screen) past 5 extra ships. Cave says they fixed this and are allowing Game Center operators to send in their boards to be serviced
(probably for a nominal fee of $300). Whats makes this worse, is that Arcadia magazine, which records all the top world records for Japanese arcade games, continues to accept scores obtained on PCBs with the bug.

So these strange set of circumstances have led players to stop playing the game, stating its a hallow victory to cheat through to the end, while at the same time giving no motivation to game center operators to upgrade their boards if Arcadia still accepts these bugged scores.

Getting to the actual bug conditions is not an easy matter, even when making some changes to the default settings to allow extends to come quicker. So after much playing this weekend, I finally confirmed my board is the first version with the bug. I guess I'm ok with the bug, as this will open up a new way of playing the game for less skilled players like me. Its still possible to play through to the end without activating the bug, but is something pretty far out of my reach.

* This score obtained by changing default extends to every 1M

[update]Its been confirmed that the infinite lives thing is not a bug, but rather an intended feature by Yagawa. How do we know this? Well apparently Cave reverted this "fix" of infinite lives back to a feature in their latest set of boards updates they are sending out to operators! Unfortunately the damage is done, and the masses have moved on to playing Futari, which is pure Cave mechanics.[/update]

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Arcade Posters

If collecting rare Japanese arcade posters wasn't expensive enough, trying to frame them for hanging will surely put you in the poor house. The problem is two fold, Japanese B1 poster size is larger than American B1 poster size, and no store in America carries pre-made frames larger than B1. This leaves you with two options, trim the poster to fit American B1 size (unthinkable by most!) or have a custom frame built.

Custom framing is great business in the US with huge markups because you have no where else to go. I've priced a custom frame with the cheapest frame border, and cheapest/thinnest plexiglass at Michael's Art Supply which came out to $275! That price does NOT include mounting or anything, just the metal frame, backing, and plexi front. Unbelievable! Of course the sales person said "for this week only" there was a $99 off custom frames over $ the price would have dropped to $176. No thanks.

Since I was very reluctant to trim these rare posters, I decided to try and make my own frames. Since I'm no carpenter, have no woodworking tools, I didn't feel like making 50 pound wood/glass frames from homedepot (so not sure what that would cost total). What I did was visit a local plastics store called Tap Plastics. There, I ordered a 1/8 thick plexiglass square cut to 40"1/2 x 28"3/4 size (thats Japanese B1) for $30, then a 1/8 think foam-core backing of the same size for $15. My ghetto solution for holding the pieces together were small office binder clips (19mm in size) found in Walmart for $0.79 a box of 12. After clipping the backing to the plexi (with poster sandwiched in the middle) I removed the front side metal wing-tabs on the clips. To hang the poster, Tap Plastics had this very cool Uniframe 40" kit for $10. So total cost of my custom frame came out to about $55.

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Notice the two foam-core blocks I taped to the back, these were instructions that the Uniframe kit gave to give the frame better support. Two simple picture frame nails is all that is needed to hang via the plastic parts just below the supports. Since the entire thing is pretty light weight (about 5 lbs), nothing would be damaged if it happened to come off the wall (never happened yet).

The true test of this design was fitting a similar frame for my Espgaluda II poster, which is a double B1 size of 79" x 28"3/4! Price for the plexi and foam-core obviously came out to twice as much ($90) but there was no framing system suitable for this extremely long length. So again, I went ghetto, headed back to Walmart, and bought several more boxes of those small size binder clips. This time, I didn't use any framing system and just used the single side of the binder clip tab-wing to attach to the wall via small poster nails. The result was perfectly secure to the wall!

Since hanging all my extra large posters this way, I've since seen some new internet framing shops in the UK that offer > 40" custom frames around this same price, but I'm not sure what the shipping costs would be on such large pieces of plexiglass overseas. I don't have the link handy, but its been mentioned in several of the poster threads on the shmups message board.
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Friday, August 31, 2007

First Espgaluda II high score

Please excuse the low score first attempt. :(

Saturday, August 04, 2007

First Planet Harriers high score

My first high score posting for Planet Harriers. Lavaa is stage 3, and I barely got half way though, so lots of room for improvement.

Monday, July 30, 2007

New Ketsui high score

Saturday, July 28, 2007

New Ketsui high score

Friday, July 06, 2007

Planet Harriers' Analog Joysticks

Ok, so first thing to fix on my Planet Harriers cab were the analog joysticks. The ones that came with the cab were completely destroyed. One of them even had its metal shaft bent at a 15 degree angle, probably from some pissed off punk getting his revenge.
Upon opening the control panel, I found a large pile of shredded rubber and small white plastic pieces everywhere. It looked like both sticks literally exploded. After taking things apart, I found that the plastic bits were from a sleeve that fits around the central joint of the joystick, connecting to one of the analog pots. I can't imagine this holding up to the abuse in American arcades. The shredded rubber was from the stopper at the end of joystick shaft, used to regulate the throw distance. There was also a ton of dried up grease which was supposed to prevent the shredding, but didn't seem to do a good job.

I called a local distributor to get a quote for replacement sticks, and best he could do was $175 per stick for Happ replacements. I didn't even want to guess what Sega would have changed for replacing these with original ones. Anyway, I found what looked like the exact same Happ sticks on ebay (marked new/overstock) for much cheaper (thank you ebay!) I got the new sticks in the mail, and they felt pretty stiff, this is actually a good sign, as I wanted accuracy, not loose analog sticks thats don't return to the center.

The mounting points on the plates were exactly the same, so no problem fitting them to the control panel. The only difficulty was in the proprietary Sega connectors. I rigged my own connectors and started up the machine, only to find they would not calibrate correctly. Apparently not all 5K pots are the same. So I then decided to pull out the original Sega pots, put them in the Happ sticks, using the original connectors, and low and behold it works!

Here are pics of the original stick, then the Happ ones I bought, and then what it looks like mounted in the control panel. I may try to attach the rubber boot to the Happ sticks, but it would require me to drill holes in the mounting plate...not sure if I feel like doing that at this point. I also have to tweak the center line of each pot to get the game to accurately perform the extreme left/right dodge maneuver, vital to playing the game accurately. I really can't imagine American arcade operators going to these lengths to make the game this playable...which also tells me why some people found the controls lacking.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

ESPGaluda 1CC

Finally! I 1CC'd (one credit completed) ESPGaluda tonight. For one of Cave's reportedly "easeist shmup", it took me about two months of playing it seriously, around 3 times a week, to complete with a single quarter run. I'm fairly sure I was able to 1-ALL DoDonPachi faster than this. Anyway, now I'll have no guilty conscience moving onto ESPGaluda II.

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My final score was 35,219,710 using Ageha.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Planet Harriers

Planet Harriers came out in 2000/2001. Everyone was praying for a Dreamcast port that would never happen. There was a cab near me in Milpitas at the Van's Skate Park, but I think I only played it once, at $1 a credit. When it comes to playing arcade games for money, I'm a total cheapass gamer!

After it was confirmed that Planet Harriers was not coming out for the Dreamcast (or Gamecube), I went back to that arcade to try playing it some more, but the place had closed down. I'd never seen this cab anywhere since then, so I was not going to pass up an opportunity to buy this rare beauty at a good price. And then it happened! Of course I didn't get such a great deal on it without there being some problems that I'll have to fix. First problem being both analog joysticks were completely shot, and then both monitors had either the red or green color cutting out at random times. With Spy Hunter now behind me, let my next big project begin!Free Image Hosting at

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

What rank control?

I've been playing Pink Sweets on and off for about two months now, and have run into a brick wall in Stage 4. The game just gets too difficult, and I wasn't able to break the 4M score barrier. For those that know Raizing type shmups, rank control is a vital strategy to completeing (1CCing) the game. What rank does, is increase the difficulty in direct proportion to how well you are playing/scoring.

Score too good in early levels (by medaling and picking up weapon options) and the game bitch slaps you in later levels. If you don't medal, or avoid options, and even suicide your ship (if you have extra ones), the rank drops or maintains, giving you a chance to reach the later levels, and thus potential for obtaining a higher overall score. Very ingenious play mechanics like this make it fun to figure out which parts of the game give higher score potentials but minimal rank increases.

Anyway, since I've only started playing this, I've been ignoring the rank side of the game, happily picking up options, medals, and milking bosses for all the points they are worth. So I've reached that inevitable brick wall and need to start strategizing.

Tonight, I was able to finally break 4M, again ignoring rank, but only by picking up two extends (extra ships) in Stage 3 using a "super power up" option, which in turn made the game quite pissed. I then proceeded to loose two spare ships on the Stage 3 endboss and two more at the begining of Stage 4. I think I could have avoided these losses, and gotten about 500K more in score, if I reach the Stage 4 endboss. Maybe then I'll begin a rank strategy.

4,091,030 - Lace - Stage 4 - DJK

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The things we do for love

Not exactly arcade related, but on some level just as masochistic as playing shmups. Having a girlfriend who is studying optometry for an OD degree, means I get to play guinea pig to her poking, prodding, lid flipping, corneal staining, dilating, phoropting, picture taking fun. That last part, the picture taking, is no cakewalk either. She shoves what looks like a jewlers lens against my cornea with her bare hand, and holds it there while using a camera (which is on a stand 4 inches away from my face) with light shining directly into my eye to take pictures for about an hour and a half. Did I forget to mention I don't wear glasses or have any vision problems? least not yet...

So now, I give you, the optic disc/nerve of my left eye:
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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Girls like Cosmo

I recently bought another cabinet, and have been storing it at my girlfriends place. While keeping it there, I decided to install Cosmo Gang The Video, as its a cutesy shooter game thats pretty easy and fun. Sure enough, I got my girlfriend hooked on it. Whats amazing, is that its even more fun with 2 players. You can read a review of the snes version of it on

The first weekend we played it, I got a highscore of 4,807,760 Gang 23 (there are 33 Gangs/levels in the game!) After two weeks, my girlfriend was able to beat that with 5,028,420 Gang 25! She was surely hooked. In double play we got up to Gang 28 together, but never finished the game on a single credit. Best I've been able to do since then on my own was 6,700,740 Gang 28.

Monday, April 02, 2007

What am I currently playing?

I've neglected this blog for quite some time, mostly because I haven't completed any major projects worth posting about. In response to this, I've created a new section at the top listing what arcade games I'm currently playing. I'll then make some minor posts listing my progress (or lack there of) on these games to keep the blog fresh with content.