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Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Merry Christmas!

Santa was good to me this Christmas, got some much wanted Technosoft and NMK games, and even a great puzzler for the wife!

Also, my wife got me a 60G harddrive for my XB360, so I can finally log onto the Xbox Live Marketplace to download Mushihemesama Futari Black Label (and more). For those that care, my gamertag is "ArcadeFever".

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cyvern The Dragon Weapons

Cyvern is an exceptional Kaneko game on the Super Nova motherboard system. I bought this awhile ago, and don't see it come up for sale often anymore. I started playing this today after watching NRKCFK's 27M superplay (and 41M Cyvern Plus superplay). As seen in the videos, using a 30hz rapid fire on the C button can recharge your banish shot a lot faster!

*Updated* with my newly aquired artwork, and score from STGT'10 Cyvern competition.

DJK - 5,193,250 1-4

Friday, December 18, 2009


Galmedes is one of those hidden gems you don't hear much about, most likely because it was designed to eat credits. The level of difficulty is quite steep from the very start, adding another credit to continue does not reset your score, and there is no way to disable continues. Outside of these deficiencies, I'm finding the game quite addictive, and surprisingly similar to Dangun Feveron with respect to ship speed, and charge shot types. Did I mention this was produced 6 years before Dangun?

I found it strange that Galmedes was produced on Taito hardware, yet no mention or credits of Taito in the game.

I had play tested this in Mame, and never made it past the first stage, so I was quite pleased with this accomplishment, making it well into stage 3, using a rapid fire board.

DJK - 572,200 - Stage 3

[update]I had a heck of time trying to figure out why the game had no sound on my Astro City 2 or New Astro City cabs, but worked fine in the Windy or original Astro City cabs. Turns out Galmedes, being an old Taito board, requires -5V for the sound to function.[/update]

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Japanese STG blogs

While searching for information on NMK produced shooters, I stumbled upon another STG collector in Japan who has similar stories (and struggles) when it comes to obtaining and playing these rare games. Well, at least these are rare in the United States, but probably not so rare in Japan.

Although I cannot read kanji or katakana, I found using Google Translate to read Japanese blogs can give me the high level subject matter and conversation. Of course this is not optimal, and I'm probably missing much humor and intricacies when it comes to game strategies. I wish I had time to learn Japanese, but between my work and hobbies, there is just not enough time for such an undertaking!

Anyway, the blog I found interesting is owned by Ikeda_San, and is titled "Watcher ][" at . He is a collector and STG player who has been building an impressive collection of PCB and arcade hardware over the last year. I was particularly impressed with his classic 1980's era black Taito sitdown cabinet, which leads me to believe this style cabinet may have been the motivation for Dillinger's computer desk in the 1982 movie Tron! :)

==?==> ^_^

Commonly referred to as "cocktail" cabinets, these sit down machines did not gain much popularity in the US, preferring to stand than sit while playing arcade games. Personally, I prefer the newer "Candy"cabinets to the cocktail style, but do own a few classic upright games from the early 1980s.

I tried to leave a comment on Ikeda_San's blog, but could not navigate the input form correctly (perhaps password protected) so I decided to send him an email instead. He graciously responded in English, which I'm sure was not easy for him, so I appreciated the response! おかげでIkeda_San

One last item worth mentioning, if you read back through Ikeda_San's blog far enough, you will see he has also encountered the dreaded VARTA battery leakage.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Weekend Project - XB360 to Jamma

After finally receiving Mushihimesama Futari for XB360 in the mail last week (14 days shipping!), I took some time this weekend to get my XB360 hooked up proper to my Exceleena cab.

Used xbox controllers were $20 each from gamestop (what a ripoff!), $10 project box from Fry's, a fingerboard I had laying around, and two 12 position barrier strips from Radio Shack.

Connected the two barrier strips together with quick-zip ties, disassembled the joysticks and soldered wires to the digital controls. Next, drilled and trimmed the fingerboard, and soldered wires onto it. Then ran both sets of wires to the 12 position barrier strip, which is just enough for 1 joystick, 6 buttons, 1 start, and 1 ground.

Why did I use a barrier strip? This allowed me to rewire the button configuration if I needed, and ended up having to do this after I finished the project. I initially wired the buttons to match the XB360 Street Fighter IV tournament stick, but realized afterwards that arcade cabinets have A,B,C buttons on the top row, not the bottom row. Also standard jamma only supports 3 buttons (some cabs support 4), so I ended up mapping A,B,X,Y buttons to the first 4 in the jamma connector.

Next was to take out the dremmel and trim my project box so I could mount the fingerboard between the two end screws, and have it still close properly. It was a tight fit, and just barely got everything squeezed inside this small box.

Final touch was to drill two strain relief holes for the controller plugs right at the seam, and close it up. And here is the final product.

Since I plan to play the XB360 on my Exceleena cab, there was no need for audio or video to the jamma box, all that would be taken care of via the cab's vga connector and stereo amplifier. But to make this really jamma compatible, future enhancements could include my Ultracade UVC converter to downscale 480p to 15khz or 24khz, and a mono amp, although that requires 12v from somewhere. Lastly, I'd probably wire a capcom kickharness to use the lower 3 buttons properly if I wanted to play some fighter games.

Anyway, here we are in hires shmupping goodness!

Update: I have since made one more modification to this converter which makes it a bit safer to operaate!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Espgaluda Arrange 104M

Finally broke 100M in Espgaluda Arrange today, which is a big up from my last score (64M). Takes me about 20 minutes of warmup before I'm comfortable with the 4 button layout.

DJK. - 104,364,082 - 4 - Black (Arrange)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Planet Harriers Highscore

Beat my last highscore by a little over 100K. This time you can see how armed to the teeth I was when I hit the midpoint Star Shop on Stage 4.

Didn't help me much as the second set of enemy after the midpoint are the suiciding turtles, that you need to shoot down + extreme dodge all within 1 second of spotting them on the screen or its an instant hit taking 1 full heart. I think I must have gotten down to the last turtle that nailed me here giving me this 571K score.

DJK - 571,939 - Stage 4 (Lavaa)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Muchi Muchi Pork - 59M

I died foolishly with one bomb in stock that could have easily gotten me past the 60M extend.

DJK - 59,809,530 - Stage 4 - Momo

Friday, July 03, 2009

Muchi Muchi Pork - 43M

I picked up what could very well be Shinobu Yagawa's last arcade game, Muchi Muchi Pork. This game has such humor/charm, its just downright sinful how much fun it is to play. From little parachuting pigs, to litters of piglets that get released when you blow stuff up on the ground (they try to make a break for it, but don't get very far being fat and lazy). The game is very well balanced, and has something for everyone. 1CC is within grasp of average players, 2LC (two loop clear) requires rank management and lots of strategy, high scoring sucicide bombing for the untraditional, and harder mode (manpuku) for the insane Japanese pro's.

After playing it for a few nights this week, I've made a pretty good start.

DJK - 43,723,220 - Stage 4 - Momo

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Inside the Taito Type X (Part 1)

The Taito Type X arcade board came out in 2004, and is essentially a custom PC running the Windows XP Embedded operating system. Using commodity PC hardware and software development tools meant significant cost savings in producing games. This however, did not mean crappy and bloated doujin style PC games coming into arcades, as Taito kept strict quality controls over was released on the platform.

I was expecting an older desktop sized computer, but was surprised to find the unit is the same size as a Naomi motherboard (although obviously a bit taller). The motherboard is a custom 865G type, with "Taito Type X Rev A1" silkscreened onto it, and comes with onboard dolby 5.1 optical sound support, although I don't know of any arcade cabinet that would actually use this. The base unit comes with a Celeron 2.5Ghz processor, 256M RAM, ATI Radeon 9600 SE (AGP) and proprietary JVS I/O card. Even though this may seem whimpy by today's consumer PC standards, its surprising how efficent XPE can be without all the extra bloat of unnecessary device drivers and services running. Raiden III and IV for example, play at a rock solid 60fps with increidble graphic detail and sound.

The proprietary JVS I/O card is the key to the entire system, as games will not run without it. It's not a PCI card, but rather a free floating adapter which connects to a COMM port on the motherboard. It also connects to the motherboard's control panel header (for power on/off and lights) as well as the onboard optical sound. The black square at the bottom of the card is actually a plastic panel covering a set of dip switches. On the Type X, the dip switches do nothing, but on the Type X2 they do things like change the game's output resolution.

Games are distributed as an IDE hard drive and USB security dongle, and are conveniently installed via a square opening in the top of the case (each game comes comes with its own top plate). The Type X can play on a standard 15khz jamma cabinet via a JVS->Jamma I/O converter, such as those used for the Naomi platform. The graphics card has two ports, one for 15khz lowres and one for 31khz hires monitors.

Here is the complete shooter collection for the Type X, consisting of: GigaWing Generations, Homura, Shikigami No Shiro III, Raiden III, and Raiden IV.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Live from Japan, its KET!

Woke up to a treat this morning. While on #shmups IRC someone posted a link to KET's Garegga Lab where KET was streaming a live broadcast of himself playing several Psikyo games, and of course Battle Garegga. After many attempts (and trying almost every character) he finally cleared the first loop of Sengoku Ace 2, then played several credits of Dragon Blaze (only making it to stage 5), and finally onto Battle Garegga.

The best part was that he was also streaming his voice live, and responding to peoples questions (posted in chat) while playing. He was also fond of humming parts of garegga's soundtrack while playing. :) Although 95% of it was in Japanese, he did answer a few short questions in english. Then after 2+ hours he excused himself saying it was 5am in Japan and wished everyone an enjoyable weekend.

Watching recorded superplays of pros from Japan can get pretty intimidating. So it was nice to watch KET play live, and make mistakes just like the rest of us would. Its easy to forget that supreplays are typically only one run out of a hundred (if even that).

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mushihimesama (Maniac Mode) - 54M

I know I suck at Mushihimesama, but played a single credit today out of the blue and made it midway through Stage 5.

DJK - 54,903,067 - Stage 5 - W-Power

Friday, March 20, 2009

Windy Love

One of the reasons why I let out a big smile whenever walking into my gameroom.

[Update 03/10/10 - Added an additional Konami Windy 2, with proper blue marquees]

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Taito Type X in da house

Finally got my hands on a Taito Type X mobo, and what a beauty this thing is running on my Exceleena at 31khz! I'll gush on the technical details later, but couldn't wait to jump in on some vertical Gigawing Generations!