Currently playing:

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rapid Hero highscore

I finally spent some quality time with Rapid Hero this Saturday, racking up a decent score, with plenty of room for improvement. In this run, I died twice in a row on stage 5, and was about to restart the game, but decided to stick it out to see how far I could get with 1 ship remaining. I got a 1UP in stage 6, and finally died part way into stage 7.

Overall, I'd say Rapid Hero is pretty easy up until stage 5, making this a pure joy to pickup and play without any prior practicing. Nothing beats ripping through waves of popcorn enemy, and collecting 10000 bonus chips. Stage 5 and onward has lots of scoring potential with strategies for positioning your ship for maximum amount of enemy destruction, while weaving through slow moving bullets that get left behind. There is really only 1 boss of the game, who keeps running away at the end of each level after taking a beating, but comes back with bigger and badder armor and attachments next time.

I'm pretty confident I could 1CC this soon, but now I need to prepare for next weekend's shmupmeet!

DJK - 2,102,030 - Stage 7 [Score Update!]

Monday, February 22, 2010

Rapid Hero

If you hadn't noticed by now, I'm a huge NMK fan, and this PCB had occupied the number 1 slot of my most wanted list for the last 3 years! What most consider the pinnacle of NMK's vertical shooters, is also the most rare, so words can't express how happy I am to now have this in my collection. ^_^

[Update 08/31/13]
Earlier this year, a Korean / International version of Rapid Hero was discovered called Arcadia.  As with other Korean region games, these have notably different colored silk-screening and components (typically cheaper to save costs).  System11 over at shmups forum has broken down the general difference between regions as follows:

Japanese build NMK pcb:

  • Amp screwed down to the PCB
  • Small filter caps near all TTL chips
  • Typical paper square NMK ROM labels
  • Typical paper NMK serial sticker (obviously these are often missing)
  • Mostly Japanese brand TTL chips - Motorola everywhere

Korean built NMK pcb:
  • Amp just floating - typical assembly method for Korean and bootleg games
  • Mitsubishi ROM labels - again common in Korea
  • Incorrect large filter cap sizes - back in the day cheaper brands were often larger
  • Most of the small filters are missing (a cost cutting measure, extrremely common on Korean boards of all makes)
  • Masses of Goldstar chips - while you do see isolated use on some Japanese boards, it's normal for Korean boards to be covered with them.

There has been at least one occurrence of a Korean built Arcadia board surfacing with Rapid Hero roms covered with Mitsubishi stickers.  Its unclear if this was a rom-swap by Korean importers, or are original JP roms populated by Korean distributors.  I've included some examples of recent sales, the last one being the board with RH roms.

Arcadia sold on eBay for $611 by boardfixxer (Korean importer) on Jun 03, 2013

Arcadia sold on eBay for $999 by www_worldhobbyist_com for $999 (Korean importer) on Aug 13, 2013

Aracdia with Rapid Hero roms on shmups forum sold for (unknown amt) by snkpowa on Jul 13, 2013 and then again for €460 by warlord on Aug 31, 2013

Arcadia unsold on ebay for $999 by by boardfixxer (Korean importer) on May 30, 2015

[Update 08/28/19]
So it turns out one of my friends recently bought a Rapid Hero board, which is a pretty rare find nowadays.  Upon looking at the picture, it was clear the board was actually an Arcadia that had been rom swapped to Rapid Hero.  All the tell tail signs were there, as described above, in fact upon closer inspection, the board he bought (in late 2019) was actually the 2nd board I have pictured above that sold on eBay Aug 13th 2013!  Lets take a closer look at his board:

First off, the pea green colored silkscreened top board is a dead giveaway of an Arcadia.  Then there is the floating amp, black caps, and goldstar chips.  What has changed is removing of the Korean tax sticker across the mask roms, and of course newly burned roms with fake labels (which were pretty well done).

So how do we know for sure this is the same as the 2013 Arcadia on eBay?  Look closely at the mask roms where the tax sticker was removed.  Notice the scraps along the bottom right most mask rom.  Also notice the same irregularities around the jamma edge.  And finally if you look at the first SMT chip below the jamma edge, again you will see a similar scrape along the right and left on the chip.

So yes, people are trying to pass off Korean Arcadia's as Japan Rapid Hero's, and going to great lengths to do so.  Now why would someone do this?  I'm sure the Korean version is just as rare, and in my opinion just as valuable.  But to the otaku PCB collector, they will pay much more money for an authentic Japan region board than the same game made for international distribution.  This is what creates demand for these types of conversion shenanigans.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Astro Restoration

Last month I bought this fixer-upper from Kenchan on the shmups forum. I remember the same cabinet being offered on the sega-naomi forum awhile ago, due to the distict "Lyfer" graffiti scratched into the monitor. :(

Besides the ruined tube, the monitor chassis was non-functioning, the control panel wiring was a mess, and there was a ton of caked on dirt inside the cab.

Since I already had a spare tube, chassis, and panel sitting in my garage, the actual restoration time was just two weekends. I completely gutted it, hosed down the fiberglass frame, then put it back together with the replacement parts. I ran into one small problem with the replacement chassis, which came from an Egret II, but was able to make it compatible with the Astro monitor harness via a slight modification.

I documented the project via twitter using my yfrog picture stream. Here are a few select before and after shots:

And here is the finished cab.

Many thanks to Kenchan for driving this down from Reno!