twenty-first issue is jam packed
with retrogaming goodness on a vast array of gaming topics.
Starting from the top, Merman gives us a rundown of some recent events
concerning both himself and the Commodore 64 in this issue's More
C64! Donald Lee looks back on fond gaming memories shared with
his mother in a special article. Arcade Obscure returns with a
wacky action title that may make you shop 'til you drop. Sean
Robinson has an import review on tap featuring an interesting take on
Sakura Taisen. After an absence The Retro Junkie is back as Rob
Luther details the specifics of a popular Game Boy Color hardware
variant. Learn how to restore PlayStation Network access on your
PSP in our first technical article since the newsletter
re-launch. Todd Friedman has an author interview with an
interviewing author, Patrick Hickey, Jr. Twenty years after
release, a classic fan translation is given a new lease on life with a
modern re-localization. Its story kicks off a new column about
fan translations and also serves as this issue's cover story.
While the Atari Jaguar attempted to portray a cutting edge image, its
controller was more akin to something from the past, as is evidenced in
The Controller Chronicles. Then unwind with some Video Game Haiku
and express yourself by submitting one of your own. All that and
more are ahead in this issue of The Retrogaming Times!
I want to
again remind our readers if
have comments or questions about anything covered in the newsletter, or
there is something they would like featured in a future issue of The
Times, to let us know via The Retrogaming Times on Facebook at facebook.com/theretrogamingtimes
or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org!
on Twitter for release
notifications and immediate newsletter updates!
Of course submissions are also always open. If you have something
ready to go, the address is the same, email@example.com. "If
there is something you want to write about, send it in!"
Video Game Summit, July 13th 2019, Villa
Park, Illinois, USA
much fun you used to have
playing Atari, Nintendo and all kinds of games on your computer? Well,
you will have the rare opportunity to play these great games again at
Video Game Summit, Chicago's premier video game trade show.
The Video Game
Summit, now in its 16th
year, brings together classic and modern generation gamers from all
the country to swap stories and games. Best of all, admission to
The 2019 Video Game Summit is only $10.00 per person (kids 12 and under
with adult are free). We will have Early Admission ($15.00) this
year again due to positive response from last year.
The Video Game
Summit is being held on
July 13th, 2019 from 10 am until 6 pm at The Odeum Expo Center, 1033
Villa Ave., Villa Park, Illinois.
July 16th - 21st 2019, Kansas
City, Missouri, USA
the world's only annual convention
dedicated to the Apple II computer that revolutionized the personal
industry. Held every year in Kansas City, Missouri, KansasFest
Apple II users and retrocomputing enthusiasts the opportunity to engage
in beginner and technical sessions, programming contests, exhibition
game tournaments, and camaraderie. Mark Pelczarski of Penguin
well-known for numerous graphics utilities, books, and games, will join
us this year with a keynote presentation to celebrate the Apple II.
invites any and all Apple II
users, fans, and friends to attend the largest and longest running
Apple II conference. For photos, videos, schedules, and
from past year’s events or to sign up for the email list and for
please visit the event website.
California Extreme 2019, July 27th -
28th 2019, Santa Clara, California, USA
Extreme is very pleased to officially
announce the dates for this year's California Extreme Arcade and
Show. It will be held on July 27-28, 2019 at the same fantastic
- the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara, California. Please join us for our
23rd show with hundreds of your favorite arcade and pinball games, both
past and present, all gathered together for another fun-filled weekend
of arcade excitement for everyone!
Hilton, and Marriott are now
accepting room reservations. Pre-registration for the show is
open as well!
Classic Game Fest, July 27th - 28th
2019, Austin, Texas, USA
Fest is "The Biggest Retro
Gaming Event in Texas." The 12th annual Classic Game Fest will be
on July 27 - 28, 2019. Enjoy 70,000 square feet of retro video
and fun at the Palmer Events Center in Austin, Texas. Overlooking
Lady Bird Lake and the downtown Austin skyline, the Palmer Events
is conveniently located only a short walk from many hotels,
bus stops, and bike rental stations.
If there is a
show or event you would
like listed here, free of charge, please contact David directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please include a short official blurb about your event along with any
links or contact information and it will be published in the next issue
of The Retrogaming Times. The event listing will remain posted
the issue following the event date. Big or small, we want to
your show in our newsletter..
these great events, shows,
and conventions and let them know you read about them in The
C64! - What's Going On
So, a change to the usual article I write. This past month I have been
exceptionally busy due to an important event - my wedding to the
wonderful Alison. That means I have had less time for the C64 and
writing this column, but so much has been happening. Here's a round-up
of some recent events...
As a follow-up
to my last article on testing C64 games, this month I
have been involved in testing another new C64 game designed by the
talented Trevor Storey. RUN DEMON RUN is an infinite runner where you
have to jump over gaps and duck to roll under obstacles. Hitting a wall
or falling off the platforms kills you, as does contact with the
enemies. Rolling or jumping into enemies will kill them, adding a token
to your jet meter. Fill the meter and the jet boost appears,
transforming the demon into a fast-moving jet; now you can collect the
red bonus icons for even more points. Credit must also go to the
fast-moving and atmospheric music by Richard Bayliss.
revealed a major bug. The demon could end up with its feet
"stuck" inside a platform, and trying to roll would then kill the
player. Fortunately a rewrite of the code by programmer Achim Volkers
has removed that bug. What you can't see in screenshots is the superb
animation of the demon, with over 70 sprites dedicated to this large
and impressive player character. It should be released in the next few
months. Here is a video of the game in action.
information, to order a physical version and the digital
The fantastic loading
screen, and the huge demon starts running
success of the 2019 ZZAP Annual - based on the classic
British gaming magazine - a new Kickstarter campaign this May brought
in over 1500 backers and £50,000 to fund the 2020 edition.
Stretch goals included a mini magazine (FUSION 64) filled with more
articles on the C64, a calendar of art by Oliver Frey and a ZZAP key
ring. I am heavily involved, writing articles and interviews for the
annual, writing for FUSION 64 and doing the music for Chaos Generator;
this is a free game download for everyone who backed the annual.
If you want to
pre-order the annual and some of the extras, the link is:
event took place in Hull, England on June 15th - just one
week after my wedding. The 8-BIT SYMPHONY was an orchestral concert
with a difference, played by the Hull Philharmonic Orchestra. All the
music was arrangements of classic C64 music, some of them arranged by
the original composers. The legendary Rob Hubbard was musical producer,
with C64 Audio's Chris Abbott the organiser and co-host. As the music
played a projector screen showed video footage. There were also
tributes to two composers who are no longer with us - Ben Daglish (The
Last Ninja, Trap) and Richard Joseph.
Part of the
event was a VIP reception during the afternoon before the
concert. There I was lucky enough to meet and talk to Paul Norman,
creator and composer of classic games including Forbidden Forest and
Aztec Challenge. (His music for those games was actually arranged for
the concert by Tomb Raider composer Peter Connelly.) It was a fantastic
opportunity to get Paul's signature in my C64 book.
are no plans to release a recording of the concert and
cameras were not allowed during the show, the arrangements will be part
of the 8-Bit Symphony CD collection. There will also be the unique set
of printed orchestral scores to buy.
Click on the
Concert tab for more on 8-Bit Symphony and the Music tab
for more on the boxset.
Paul Norman (left)
meets Merman (right) in a photo taken by Alison Fisher, and during the
interval at Hull City Hall
A new game
from Megastyle has been released through Psytronik this past
month. Rodney's kids have found his old adult magazines and spread the
pages around the house, so he must collect them up before his wife sees
them! Rodney's stress is rising rapidly and he must return the pages to
the basement before his heart gives out. Running into his kids or his
wife costs a life, so he can hide behind certain furniture. What makes
this game stand out is the diminutive but well animated sprites, and a
great soundtrack filled with cover tunes.
The opening level of
Mancave, and a look at the Trophies screen for
completing in-game achievements
edition clamshell, standard cassette, budget disk and premium
disk versions as well as a digital download (see https://psytronik.itch.io) are
available. Psytronik also released Age of Heroes recently.
I missed last
issue due to a family issue that will be explained a bit here. If
you’re not in the mood for sad stories, then you may want to skip my
column this time.
mid-March of this year, my mom developed what is known as a bowel
obstruction. The condition prevented food and waste from going in
and out of her systems. Sometimes these conditions can clear by
themself. But sometimes they don't and surgery is required to
clear up the condition so no further issues develop.
Unfortunately, my mom had other long standing health issues that played
into the situation. As my mom was unable to make her own
decisions, my dad and I had to make assess the situation and decide the
path forward for my mom. After several weeks of getting input
from doctors and others, my dad and I made the difficult decision to
not have surgery performed on my mom. Of course, this
effectively meant that my mother's time on Earth was limited. And
on April 3rd, 2019, my mom quietly passed away around 9 PM in the care
facility where she had spent her final weeks.
With the sad
part out of the way, I was originally going to share some video gaming
recollections in the previous issue. It would have been perfect
as the issue would have come out in May around Mother's Day. But
as you can imagine, things were a blur after my mom's passing between
the funeral and eventually going back to work. I let the deadline
for the last issue slip and didn't submit anything.
But it's a
nice Saturday evening out here in the Bay Area and it's a good time to
share some of my video gaming times I shared with my mom.
THE VIDEO ARCADE DAYS
When I was
young, my dad worked at a Hungarian restaurant that was located at a
fairly popular tourist attraction called Ghirardelli Square in San
Francisco. My mom and I would visit my dad often at the
restaurant after I had gotten off from school. But usually we
wouldn't go until later in the evening. So what did we do
usually? My mom and I would walk to the Fisherman Wharf and Pier
39 area and hang out. We would check out shops, get some
white chocolate / macadamia nut cookies from Blue Chip Cookies and walk
The thing I
enjoyed the most those days was playing video games. In the
Fisherman Wharf's area there were two small arcades in the shopping
complex and the tourist attraction at Pier 39 had the largest
one. If I recall correctly, there were bumper cars and other
things besides video games there. My mom and I spent a great
amount of time at those arcades for years. As I got older, we
stopped visiting my dad as much at the restaurant. Also, video
arcades slowly went by the wayside and the two smaller arcades
eventually closed while the Pier 39 arcade was moved around several
times. It looks like there is still an arcade at Pier 39 as part
of the Players: Arcade & Sports Grill so the tradition continues
even in 2019.
THE ATARI 5200 DAYS
this story in earlier iterations of the magazine. My dad bought
me both an Apple IIe and Atari 5200 when I was young. To this
day, I'm not sure why he went for the Atari 5200 and not the older (but
still popular) Atari VCS/2600.
interesting trivia question for folks: What was the pack-in game
for the Atari 5200?
For a good
number of Atari 5200 owners, they may say the pack-in game was
Pac-Man. That would not be incorrect. But what most
people don't know is that there was another pack-in game for the 5200
when it was first released. The game? SUPER BREAKOUT.
reason, when my dad bought the 5200, he spent hours playing Super
Breakout. It's funny that some people thought Super Breakout
didn't really showcase the 5200 system. I guess my dad
didn't really care much. He really broke in those weird 5200
remember if my mom played Super Breakout. But I definitely got
her hooked on Pac-Man and Mario Bros. My mom was never much of a
gamer. But she could handle the simpler games like Pac-Man.
Mario Bros wasn't as simple but she could understand what to do and
play it. I may have gotten my mom to play Ms. Pac-Man as
well. It wasn't just my mom playing herself, but we would play
two player games which was fun.
As time went
on, the whole family just stopped playing the 5200 and the system was
mothballed. The system may still be around at my parent's
house. We'll probably have to dig it up and see if it still
If all of my
experiences with my mom had occurred in more recent times, I may have a
ton of photos or videos documenting my experiences with my mom at the
arcades or at home playing video games. Alas, I haven't seen
anything. But it's ok. These are experiences that will live
with me and by sharing them, I ensure my mom's memory is never
my mom's passing was a tough time for everyone in my family. But
its been over two months and life is slowly getting back to
normal. As anyone who's dealt with someone's passing, you never
really fully get over what happened. All you can do is remember
the happy times.
arcade games are obscure due to having a limited release, others are
obscure because they have a non-standard objective, and others still
are obscure given that they're simply flat out strange. Dream
Shopper is one of the few games to be a victim of all three.
Released by Sanritsu in 1982, it apparently never left Japan, relegated
to slip between the cracks of the rapidly advancing arcade
landscape. I only first stumbled upon the game years ago when I
was setting up my mini MAME cabinet - looking for games that used a
vertical monitor orientation, a single joystick, not more than two
buttons, and would run on the older hardware I was using. That
criteria would uncover many forgotten arcade gems, including Dream
behind Dream Shopper can be hard to follow but the core objective is to
obtain a specific number of points on each round by uncovering spaces
of varying value on a grid. Think of Pac-Man with no maze walls
except the outermost boundaries, with wrap around tunnels at the top,
bottom, left and right. At the beginning of each round a
"Pressing Goal" will be displayed, this is the amount of points that
must be earned to complete the round. Before the round begins,
the point value of every square on the grid will flash a few
times. Values are generated randomly and are marked 50, 100, 250,
or 500 points, with a corresponding color for each. Then all the
squares go to black and the round begins, with the player controlling a
regular looking shopper guy that can move in the four cardinal
directions. Pressing the action button will cause the shopper to
reach down and uncover the square he his standing on, adding the value
of the square to the total at the top of the screen. Uncovered
squares become different items of merchandise depending on the round -
things like bags, sneakers, and tennis rackets. Enemies that roam
the screen are the biggest threat to the shopper, as coming into even
the slightest contact with one will cost him a life. Additionally
there are instant death holes on the grid that the shopper must avoid
falling into. Although the holes are a slightly different color
than the black background, the difference is very slim and easy to
The Pressing Goal is
presented at the start of a round (left), all values are briefly shown
at the start (center), uncovering squares (right)
At the very
center of the screen is a white square with a piece of fruit on
it. Walking across the fruit square will temporarily show the
value of every square on the board and stun any enemies currently
roaming the grid. While enemies are stunned they can be defeated
by running the shopper into them, however a better strategy is to make
use of the time to uncover high value squares. The fruit square
will reset after a few seconds, appearing as a different type of fruit
but performing the same function. After being collected a few
times the fruit square will disappear, so use them wisely.
will also feature randomly placed bomb squares. Once uncovered, a
bomb will instantly activate, giving the shopper only moments to move
out of its blast radius to avoid being killed. On the flip side,
bombs will kill any enemies caught in the blast radius and using them
effectively becomes an important strategy after a couple rounds.
Furthering the randomness of Dream Shopper, some squares will reveal a
frog that will leap across the screen in the direction the shopper was
moving when the square was uncovered. As the frog leaps along it
will uncover any squares that match its color, adding their value to
the round total. However any squares in a frog's path that are
already uncovered will be changed to whatever value the frog was
generated from. While this can increase the value of uncovered
merchandise, more often a low value frog will hop across high value
squares, decreasing their value and reducing the current round
total. That's right, unlike most games, the round score is liquid
in this regard. How your luck plays out with the frogs can either
make or break a game, as the round doesn't end until the current total
reaches or exceeds the Pressing Goal.
The shopper must make
his way to his girlfriend (left), a 100 point frog downgrades uncovered
500 point squares (center), running away from a bomb (right)
Pressing Goal is met, the second type of gameplay in Dream Shopper
begins. This plays much more like a conventional maze game, with
routes that enemies patrol along the path between the shopper's house
and his girlfriend at the top of the screen. Along the way items
can be picked up for bonus points but even the slightest contact with
an enemy will knock the shopper out. While these areas may seem
like bonus stages, loosing a life in them takes one away from the
reserve stock. This isn't apparent at first, as win or loose the
game will advance to the next round, presenting a new Pressing Goal to
reach and a fresh randomly-generated grid to uncover. Subsequent
rounds feature more enemies, faster enemies, enemies that move in
different ways, more bombs, and higher Pressing Goals. The path
complexity and enemy frequency also increase in the girlfriend stages,
eventually requiring flat out control perfection.
wise the game certainly looks its vintage, with simple graphics and
solid bright colors. The sprites are serviceable but the enemies
look like mutant sheep and don't seem to gel with the concept of
uncovering modern merchandise - then again, the frogs don't fit in
either. Sound effects are the usual beeps and boops associated
with actions, along with short musical tunes at the beginning and
ending of rounds. Interestingly, the melody from
Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo (yes, the song from Cinderella) is played at the
beginning of each Pressing Goal stage. While the audio is over
all rather simple, I do enjoy the ringing sound the plays as the
Pressing Goal number is presented - it sounds like a point value being
displayed on an 80's game show or something.
So we have a
reasonably simple game, built around unconventional game mechanics,
with strange enemies, and pretty much zero consistency in terms of
design. Why would anyone ever want to play Dream Shopper,
especially over thirty-five years after it was released? The only
answer I can provide is that it is a strangely fun game due to how
frantic everything is. From the very start the game is total
chaos and requires constant motion and fast thinking. The level
of randomness in Dream Shopper plays into that sense of urgent strategy
and lends itself to addictive gameplay. This is definitely a "one
more game" type of title. It's unfortunate that Dream Shopper is
so obscure, apparently only having a single home conversion on the
equally obscure Japanese Sord M5 computer in 1983. Thankfully the
arcade original has been preserved thanks to the efforts of the MAME
team and is certainly worth giving a try.
If you would
like a cute, fun, and funny portable Rogue-like for the
Nintendo DS, Dramatic Dungeon Sakura Taisen is an excellent
choice. It features the full cast of the first five mainline
Sakura Wars games from Tokyo to Paris to New York. It's an
all-new adventure featuring a new villainess and her minions bent on a
mysterious task which ends up involving the protagonists from the whole
line of games.
Image courtesy the official
Sakura Taisen Web site, http://sakura-taisen.com/archives/game/ds/
Each set of
stages begins with a bit of story to help set the scene and
to tell the goal for the mission. Most stages are randomly
generated with enemies and items scattered about the levels.
After the set of levels is completed, a boss fight will ensue with
additional story sequences unfolding. In-between exploring the
dungeons, players will talk with the various other characters and
choose whom they wish to take into battle, with extra story scenes
during this time that can positively affect the result of battles.
is a bevy of Japanese text in this game, it can be safely
ignored and the game played to completion. Obviously it is better
if one can read Japanese to enjoy the full story and the character
dialogue, but the action of the dungeon stages and the humorous
slapstick of some story sequences will keep even non-readers
amused. And if one already knows the characters of Sakura Wars,
events in the character interactions are obvious enough without reading
the Japanese text.
Dramatic Dungeon Sakura Taisen is a fun little game that is
a must-have for Sakura Wars fans. Even non-fans and casual game
players will find this game fun and easy to pick up thanks to its
simple-to-understand game-play and low consequence for failing a
mission as the missions can be tried repeatedly until one
succeeds. I can confidently recommend this game to anyone who
enjoys Japanese games or Rogue-like adventures.
- - -
Dramatic Dungeon Sakura Wars ~Because You are There~
ドラマチックダンジョン サクラ大戦 〜君あるがため〜
March 19, 2008 (Japan)
Rating: CERO B
Players: 1 to
4 players (wireless multi-player requires multiple game
Neverland Co., Ltd.
Standard Edition and All-Star Pack
price: Standard - 4800 yen (approx. $44 USD), All-Star - 6800 yen
(approx. $62 USD)
Product ID's: Standard - NTR-YS9J-JPN, All-Star - HCV-1002
Pack includes a "black and gold" carrying case for a DS
Lite, three tags each featuring one of the mascots from the three
divisions, a clear "guard cover" for the DS Lite featuring the game's
logo, and three different emblem stickers, one for each of the three
divisions (Tokyo, Paris, New York).
The player can
call the characters by name using the microphone.
While this is not required to win nor proceed, using the microphone
this way will unlock useful extra items and hidden secrets throughout
the game's story scenes and during gameplay.
* Sakura Wars
Cell Phone Club - This feature would allow people to scan
QR codes using their cell phones to visit the Web sites of Yahoo!
Japan, i-mode, and EZweb to unlock special quests via passwords sold
for 315 yen each.
Internet-based multi-player - online multi-player via Wi-Fi alongside
either your choice of random players or friends-only
chronology: Dramatic Dungeon Sakura Wars takes place after Sakura
Wars V (PS2, Wii).
Retro Junkie - Game Boy Color: Pikachu Edition
honest, friends. Growing up, we've all had at least one game
or system that, for whatever reason, we let get away. It happens
to the best of us. As a matter of fact, I can add insult to my
own injury here, because when I was a teenager, as much as I secretly
wanted the Game Boy Color: Pikachu Edition, I didn't ask for one
because I thought I was "too old" for that Pokémon kid
stuff. Please don't get me wrong - I was a big Pokémon fan
my seventh grade year. I had beaten Pokémon: Red, played
the card game, watched Indigo League with my sister, used link cables
to trade with friends at lunch - all that great stuff! However,
by eighth grade, I guess I thought it was time to "grow up" simply
because no one else was playing Pokémon at school anymore.
The fad was over. Pokémon was done. Time to move on,
irony! Fast forward 21 years, and here I am - a
33-year-old dad, and I can't get enough of the wonderful world of
Pokémon! I owe all of this to my lovely wife who recently
discovered the series when we picked up Pokémon: Let's Go,
Pikachu on the Nintendo Switch this past Christmas. Her new-found
adoration and enthusiasm for the Pokémon series sincerely
rekindled my childhood passion for it - plus, it's a great series we
can enjoy with our kids! My wife and I have recently read the
Pokémon Adventures manga collection by Kusaka and Mato, we've
collectively spent close to 200 hours on Pokémon: Let's Go,
Pikachu, we're working our way chronologically through the cartoon
series leading up to and including Sun and Moon, we're gradually
working our way through the 20-year backlog of video games, and when we
walk the local greenways, we always make sure our cell phones are
charged just enough to run Pokémon: Go for a couple of
hours. Needless to say, it's so much fun to be a kid again.
The older I get, the more I realize that age truly is just a
number - but that's a tangent for another day!
There's Just Something Special About
That Game Boy Color
As I mentioned
earlier, the Pikachu Game Boy Color (particularly the
blue and yellow system) was a handheld I always pined for as a kid and
adult. In fact, I did ask my sister if she still had it a few
years ago, but unfortunately, she had sold it. There was just
something magical about that Game Boy. Perhaps it was a symbol or
snapshot of a really fun time in my life. Perhaps it was the
sentimental nostalgia, because it always reminded me of my dad and the
day he surprised my sister with it.
Perhaps it was
the design of that particular system, which I loved -
the blue back cover, the yellow front cover, the red and green A B
buttons complimented by the blue D-pad. Side note: I'm
embarrassed to admit that I didn't even catch as a kid that Blue, Red,
and Green, were, in fact, the names of the three protagonists from the
original manga / cartoon. So, kudos to the designers for
incorporating those particular colors. And lastly, the screen
overlay sported Pikachu on the bottom left of the screen, Togepi and
Jigglypuff on the bottom right, and (really nice touch, here!) a
Pokeball on the top left centered around the red power light, making
the Pokeball look like it is glowing while the system was powered
on. I just loved everything about that Game Boy, but chalked it
up as a system I would probably never own since the prices for
authentic Pikachu Game Boy Colors are so high these days.
A Gift to Remember
changed about two weeks ago thanks to my generous and gracious
wife. I have to give her credit - she completely played me. About
a month ago, we were clearing out the garage and having a yard sale -
all with the idea of making room for my wife, Kris's, art studio. I was
so excited to get her started, but then, just prior to setting up her
studio, she told me she actually wanted something else for her
birthday: a Pokémon Edition Nintendo 3DS XL, which was
apparently at CM Games in our local mall.
Well, that was
all she was talking about one Saturday morning, so I was
excited to take her to the mall and pick it up. She asked me to wait in
the car since both babies were asleep. And not even ten minutes later,
she returns with a smile on her face, hands me this box, and says,
"Happy Birthday, Rob."
It was the
Game Boy Color! Yeah, the Pikachu one! For once
in my life, I was speechless. Kris literally used all the money I had
been saving for her birthday gift just to surprise me. What a woman and
what a blessing! Apparently, she had been looking for the Pikachu
Game Boy Color for months and was even in cahoots with my neighbor and
dear friend, Eric, to make sure that the system they found was an
authentic Pikachu Game Boy Color. Anyway, I wouldn't accept the gift
unless she agreed that it was for the both of us, to which she did
finally agree. What a special gift from a very special woman.
Authentic VS Reproduction Systems
receiving this amazing gift, my wife expressed how much
of a challenge it was finding an authentic Pikachu Game Boy Color at a
decent price. First of all, I didn't know there was such a
saturation of reproduction Pikachu GBCs out there, but sure enough, I
discovered firsthand that nearly half of the systems I found on eBay
were repros. Please allow me to preface the rest of this article
by stating that I believe there is absolutely nothing wrong with Game
Boy repro cases and designs. In fact, they can be really neat,
convenient, and functional - whether it be a sleek and colorful case,
custom overlay, backlit screen, etc. However, when sellers advertise a
repro / refurbished system as an authentic / original system and charge
full price, therein lies the moral dilemma. Unfortunately, this
seems fairly common online. For example, my wife asked my
neighbor, Eric, who was a member of a local game trading group on
Facebook, to keep an eye out for the Pikachu GBC. Shortly after
his inquiry on the group page, he was private messaged by a seller who
sent him pictures of the GBC, but only the front of the system. After
Eric asked to see the back of the system, the seller kept giving him
excuses of why he couldn't send any more pictures. According to
Eric, who later educated me on a few tips in how to distinguish
authentic systems from repros, that was a big red flag.
Just a Few Tips That May Help
Tip #1: Know your
From what I
could find during my research, there were only two
officially licensed editions of the Pikachu Game Boy Color: the
Yellow / Blue GBC that was bundled with Pokémon Yellow in North
America in October of 1999 and the Silver / Gold version (which is
primarily a gray system with Pikachu and Pichu on the screen overlay)
in October of 2000. Below are pictures of the original systems:
you see a Pikachu Edition Game Boy Color with a different
color scheme or shell, most likely you are looking at a
repro / refurbished system. Fortunately, most sellers that I have
seen on eBay have been very up front about the systems being
refurbished. An example of a refurbished system I
recently found can be seen above on the far right.
This is a neat
translucent orange GBC. Chances are the seller
refurbished an original/basic, GBC, replaced the original gray buttons
and D-pad with the colored buttons and replaced the original / basic
shell with this orange aftermarket shell. The seller wants $70
for this system, which I think is relatively fair since the basic Game
Boy Color systems range from about $35 - $60 online and the custom
kits cost around $15 - $20. If you're a buyer who doesn't care
whether the system is authentic or not, I would actually recommend this
repro. Again, the seller was very up front that this system was
refurbished, his price was fair, and his feedback was very good.
Tip #2: Know your
things can get dicey. The back cover of the Pikachu
Game Boy Color will have three stickers. Here is a picture of our
The first /
top sticker will be a serial number. From what I've
gathered, there are two types of these top stickers: one gray / black
sticker with just a serial number, which were among the first units
produced, and one with a barcode and serial number like this system
below, which was produced later. Apparently, these barcodes were
supposed to be scanned in retail stores to help keep track of how many
units were sold and regulate returns. See the back of the box for
more details. The second / middle sticker of the system is a
black / gray that displays
spec information about the Game Boy Color unit. And the last /
bottom sticker, located on the battery cover of the
system, is simply the hotline for Nintendo tech issues. (I wonder if
this number still works!)
awareness of these three stickers isn't foolproof, but it does
help narrow things down in determining the authenticity of a Game Boy
Color. Going back to what I had mentioned earlier when my neighbor
inquired to see the back of the seller's "authentic Pikachu GBC," the
seller never sent pictures of the back. I am wondering if the seller
had an aftermarket shell on the GBC, but no stickers on the back.
I have also seen several Game Boy Color repro systems that do not
include the back stickers. On the other hand, these back cover
stickers can be easily reproduced, which leads me to tip number
Tip #3: Check for wear!
can often help narrow down whether the stickers are
original or reproduced. If there is a brand new, pristine sticker
on a 20-year-old GBC system, chances are this is a reproduced
sticker. On the flip side, perhaps the original sticker was
ripped off for whatever reason, and this new repro sticker is just a
replacement on the original GBC. That's when you could check the
rest of the system. Is there wear on the shell or screen? Is
there wear on the other stickers? If not, then perhaps you are looking
at a repro instead of an original GBC. There is some mild wear on
the stickers that match the wear on the shell of our family Pikachu
Game Boy Color. Below is a side by side perspective of our GBC
(left) compared to the
repro GBC (right):
pictures are a bit difficult to see, the left barcode has a
bit more wear than the right barcode does. Not to mention, the repro is
missing the Nintendo hotline sticker. (Who you gonna call?!)
tip isn't exactly foolproof either if you are attempting to
purchase a brand new, factory sealed authentic Pikachu Game Boy
Color. My advice would be to check out some great YouTube videos
for other tests. I watched one in particular where a guy used a
black light to compare the authentic shell casing to the aftermarket
shell - and believe it or not, I could see a difference. Perhaps
that could help!
What's in the Box?
Side note - if
you are purchasing a brand new, factory sealed Pikachu
Game Boy Color, the following things should be included: the system
itself, the Game Boy Color manual, the game (if it was the bundled
system) and manual, and a really cool Nintendo promo poster that shows
off other Game Boy Color / Nintendo 64 systems and games that were
out at the time - not to mention the iconic Pokémon Nintendo 64
system. Just be prepared to pay at least $250 - $350 for a
sealed system online or in retro retail stores. See picture below
for box and contents:
If I could say
one final thing, it is that I am so grateful for my
wonderful wife - not just for this gift, but for all the many times
she's put others before herself. How I landed this amazing woman,
I'll never know, but such kind and generous acts like this certainly
inspire me to pay it forward to her and others in some way. To
have a gift bring back that child-like excitement and gratitude is
absolutely invaluable. So, why not surprise someone you care
about with a gift you know they've always wanted? Who knows how
far a kind word or action can go?
enough of my rambling for one article. Thank you
all for reading! Cheers to a great summer and cheers to staying
young at heart forever. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've gotta
catch 'em all!
If you have any feedback or
further information regarding this article or any retro topic in
general, please send me an email at email@example.com.
love to hear from you.
Do you still use your PSP to access the mobile version of Facebook?
(Some people do.) Well you can't anymore... without doing some work to
get things working again! And without going to this effort, you can't
use the PlayStation Network (PSN) to buy or download games either. But
here's the why and how of fixing it.
You see, late
in 2014 there was an attack, an exploit, made publicly
known as the Poodle Attack. There is a flaw in the design of SSL 3.0
basically makes "secure" connections insecure if they are being
attacked by someone using the Poodle Attack. Due to this, most Web
sites accessed over HTTPS dropped support of SSL to force connections
to use the newer and secure TLS. However, PSP's with version 6.60 and
older of the PSP firmware only have support for SSL and no support for
TLS. But with the disclosure of the Poodle Attack, security-conscious
Web sites dropped support for SSL. Thus if you go to one of these
ever-growing-in-number Web sites (such as grc.com, duckduckgo.com,
facebook.com, or m.facebook.com) you will be unable to connect with the
PSP's Web browser.
Now while this
isn't a concern for many PSP owners as most of them
don't routinely use their PSP's to connect to Web sites, some do - and
more importantly for most PSP owners, you can't use PSN for anything if you don't address this
issue. That's right, no visiting PSN, no downloading games, DLC,
videos, music, or anything else through Sony's services nor any other
site which uses only TLS.
But there is a
solution! Surprising many people including myself, Sony
issued a firmware update numbered 6.61 for PSP's. This was released on
December 12th, 2014. However, if you were to go by the description on
the official Sony page about it, you'd never know what it is for. Why?
It reads, verbatim -
Posted by Sony: New for 6.61:
System software stability during use of some features has been improved.
nothing there about SSL, nothing about TLS, nothing about PSN
not working, and nothing about how many Web sites are unreachable on
PSP's running anything earlier than 6.61.
Worse yet, due
to the generic language of the boilerplate instructions
Sony has on its firmware page, it makes it seem like you can just
update over Wi-Fi and have the PSP automatically apply it
or use a UMD to get it. This is not the case! Because all Sony online
services dropped support for SSL by December 2014, you can't use the
update feature to have the PSP go online to get its update. You'll just
get an error message. And you can forget about getting a UMD with the
update on it. Production of physical copies of PSP games stopped in
North America long ago, and even the latest ones wouldn't have the
newest version of the PSP firmware.
Here are some
of the errors which I encountered with the 6.60 firmware.
If you see these then you'll know you need to fix your PSP by upgrading
it to version 6.61 or newer of the firmware.
Here are the
PSN: A connection error
has occurred. (80435061) A connection error
has occurred. (80431075)
sites with only a TLS option and no SSL option: SSL communication
cannot be performed. A transmission error has occurred in SSL.
System Update: Connection to the
server failed. A DNS error has occurred. (80410414)
So if you
can't use System Update from the menu of the PSP to download
and apply the update, what can you do? You'll need to download the
firmware using your computer, tablet, etc. and manually transfer the
firmware over to your PSP's memory card. There's two ways to do that.
For older PSP's:
the 6.61 (or newer) firmware. Go to your desktop computer
(or other form factor of computer) and visit the official PSP firmware
There you will find the firmware update. It is about 31 MB in size.
It will save with the name "EBOOT.PBP".
2) Get your
PSP's memory card hooked up to your computer. This can be
accomplished by either connecting the PSP over a USB cable to your
computer or by removing the PSP's Memory Stick (its type of memory
card) and inserting it into a compatible card reader connected to your
3) You need to
make sure the PSP's firmware update is named correctly
and is put in the right place on the memory card. These file and
names are case sensitive and thus must all be written in
capital letters. The firmware's file should be named EBOOT.PBP and it
saved in the PSP/GAME/UPDATE directory. So using
Linux/UNIX-style parlance, your file should be named
/PSP/GAME/UPDATE/EBOOT.PBP On Windows, it might read
4) Be sure to
unmount the Memory Stick so that it can finish writing
the files and directories (also known as folders) to the memory card so
it can be safely removed from the computer system without anything
being corrupted by having the card removed while the computer is still
trying to write to it. On Windows, this is achieved by right-clicking
on the memory card's icon and selecting (depending on which of its
icons you use) "Eject" or "Safely Remove". You can find this in the
Windows file manager called Windows Explorer, or "My Computer," or by
using the USB notification icon in the system tray by the clock. On
Mac, drag and drop the icon for the memory card to the trash can -
doing so will change the trash can's icon to an eject symbol. On Linux,
use your desktop environment's file manager to unmount the memory card
(often by just right-clicking its icon and selecting "Unmount" or
"Remove") or by using the "unmount" command at the terminal (command
5) Remove your
PSP's Memory Stick from the PC. Return your memory card
to your PSP.
6) Update your
PSP to the newest firmware. To do this, do not use the System Update option on
the XMB (the "cross-media bar," the user interface of the PSP). For
some reason, this will not work. Instead, you must go to XMB -> Game
-> Memory Stick and then select the Update option where it will be
mixed in with all of the games and apps you have loaded on your Memory
Stick. It will most likely be located at the top of the listing as the
app list tends to be in sequential order by newest-to-oldest.
Then the PSP
will reboot into the firmware update app which you loaded
onto the memory card. You can then follow the simple prompts to apply
the firmware. The actual application of the firmware is rather fast, so
you don't need a big charge on your battery to install it. But as
always, it is
a good idea to have a complete battery charge before
going in or running the update while on A/C power so that you don't
need to worry about the possibility of losing power and corrupting your
console's firmware. While it has only a small chance of occurring, if
installed firmware does get corrupted, it might render
the PSP un-bootable and you'll have to send it in for repair. However,
most of the time if you do run out of power during the update, the
console will just "turn itself off" (in reality, it goes into a
low-power standby mode) wherein you can then get the unit to an A/C
adapter to charge it up. Next time you boot it up after charging, it
should still be in standby mode and thus will wake up and pick up where
it left off.
Now you are
all done and you can reboot your PSP with your newly
installed firmware. Once again you will be able to access PSN,
over-the-air system updates using Wi-Fi, and any Web pages which use
TLS over HTTPS. And don't worry, you can still apply custom firmware to
your PSP even if you install the 6.61 version of the official firmware.
For newer PSP's
such as the
Media Go software for Microsoft Windows. Connect your
PSP Go to your PC running Windows and start Media Go. The Media Go
application will download the firmware's file from Sony's server and
upload it to your PSP. From there just follow the other steps to
complete the installation of the firmware.
Custom Firmware on
your PSP instead:
It is better
to install custom firmware (available from a variety of
Web sites) without installing the official firmware these days. The
today's custom firmware (CFW) integrates all of the
functionality of the official firmware without you needing to install
the official firmware at all.
Why would you
want to install CFW? It enables a lot of cool features
for your PSP including the ability to run homebrew software. These
include things like media players which support more formats than
Sony's software; file managers for managing what's on your PSP, UMD's
and memory cards; UMD copiers to copy your UMD's to your PSP as ISO's
or compressed ISO's; the ability to play your ISO's from your PSP;
emulators to run both new and old games; and unlocking the official PS1
emulator on the PSP to use with ISO's you make of any of your PS1 games.
All said, it
is a very worthwhile payoff for your technical venture.
However, while this article won't go into the details of where to get
CFW nor how to
install it, the World Wide Web is full of excellent
tutorials which will show you the way. Just use them to install a 6.61
custom firmware on your PSP and you can unlock all these features and
gamers! You are "back in business." Now enjoy your PSP!
Hickey, Jr., is the founder and editor-in-chief of ReviewFix.com and a
lecturer of English and journalism at Kingsborough Community College,
in Brooklyn, New York. Over the past decade, his video game coverage
has been featured in national ad campaigns by top publishers the likes
of Nintendo, Deep Silver, Disney and EA Sports. His upcoming book, "The
Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Game
Developers," from McFarland and Company, has already earned praise from
Forbes, Huffington Post, The New York Daily News and MSG Networks. He
is also a former editor at NBC and National Video Games Writer at the
late Examiner.com. I Talked with Patrick about his new book and
the behind the scenes look at what it took to make this great looking
publication on Gaming Designers.
What inspired you to write this book and when
did it start?
This is my
second book in The Minds Behind the Games series. This one solely
focuses on Adventure games or ones that transcend genres and cater to
the adventure they take the player on. My inspiration was simple- my
first book was a special one for me, but I didn't want to be a one-hit
wonder. I initially wanted to do a bigger sequel, with games of all
genres, but my publisher believed it was better to focus on one
particular genre to give myself more room to develop. They were right.
I initially had 42 games featured for the sequel and now have 63 for
this Adventure book and the upcoming Sports book.
How long of a process was this book from start
writing this book right after I submitted my original manuscript in May
of 2017. However, it was more a side project, as I was voice acting and
writing in a few video games. By August 2018 however, it became my sole
focus, so I'd say about eight months.
What were your toughest hurdles on getting
through the book?
obstacle was getting developers. This is a book series all about voice.
The voice of the Minds Behind these amazing games. It's not a review or
reference book. It's not written in a minimalist style. It's not a
history book. I send pitches out every single day and I interview and
report. That's how these books get written. I'm trying to build the
network every single day. Most of the time, I never hear back, but I'd
say 10 percent of the time, I get connected and when I do, the
developers are always great to me.
Who were the hardest developers to get an
interview with and how did it end of happening for the book?
I'd say the
most difficult were Dave Cowan, who was the programmer of the original
Grand Theft Auto on PlayStation and Masaya Matsuura, the creator
of PaRappa the Rapper. Dave is on the Minecraft team for Microsoft and
Masaya is still a super busy creative. They were amazing in their own
ways. Dave ended up providing me with so many amazing stories for the
book and we chatted a ton on Facebook about gaming and life. He's
definitely one of my favorite voices in this book. It was just a matter
of getting him in one place for a period of time. The stories for the
original GTA here are without a doubt some of the best in the book. I
can't wait for people to read it.
he wanted Sony's full approval on my project so we could get the best
photos. It took a while. I was pretty aggravated about it to be fair
because I already got quotes from the North American producer, Perry
Rodgers, and Rodney Greenblat, the artist. It was the final piece of
the puzzle. Once we finally got the approval from Sony, Masaya was more
than forthcoming with information.
Have you written other books before this?
Yes, I have
covered the video game industry for nearly 15 years for NBC, Examiner,
ReviewFix, Tri-Games, Old School Gamer Magazine before I began my book
career. The Minds Behind Adventure Games is my second book in the
series. I have a Sports and Shooter editions in the hopper as well.
What was your first book or publication and
what do you remember about it?
My first book
was The Minds Behind the Games. You can order it here: http://patrickhickeyjr.com/minds-behind-games/. As
far as what I remember, it was a great experience putting all of the
interviews together. It was a tough experience at the same time,
considering my wife and I just had our first child and my mother was
fighting Stage IV lung cancer. Sadly, she never saw the book in print.
Were there items in the book you wish you could
have added or something that you feel was missed?
chapters I have featured, I am beyond happy with what I have. I don't
feel like much was "missed" because I literally annoyed the hell out of
these poor developers. I messaged them; I called them; I Skyped with
them; I met them. I made sure I got it "right." There were a few
developers whose time constraints limited them from getting involved
and those would have been great.
Were there any others that helped in the
collaboration of this book?
Away from the
developers, I got quotes from Michael Thomasson and Brett Weiss, two
amazing authors to provide context for a few games, as well as a great
reader in Shane Stein, but this is not a contributor-based book. These
are the stories of some amazing games, told by the people who made them.
What do you see yourself doing next after this
book, any projects in the works?
I have a
Sports and Shooter edition in the works. I am also a voice actor and
writer and am developing a Top Down Shooter, "Kroom," with Pete
Paquette (Overwatch, Bioshock Infinite) and his brother Jeffrey
Paquette for their Orange Door Studios brand. I also have a comic book
series that just began active development. If that wasn't enough, I
also run my own entertainment website, ReviewFix.com.
Where can this book be purchased and ordered?
My first book,
The Minds Behind the Games is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble
and wherever fine books are available online. However, if you order
directly through me, here http://patrickhickeyjr.com/minds-behind-games/, I
will personalize your copy and I usually sneak in some goodies as well
like trading cards and game codes.
year 2019 fan translations of video games, both retro and recent, are
widely known of and nearly mainstream. Through the efforts of
dedicated individuals and translation groups, we are able to play in
our native languages games that were otherwise previously
inaccessible. This work isn't done for financial gain but instead
for the enjoyment of other gamers. Recently a fresh
re-localization of a Super Famicom RPG based on the Sailor Moon anime
and manga property was released, almost twenty years after it had
previously been fan translated. Many including myself had been
for a new release after hearing rumblings about it being in the works
but why get so excited about a game that had already been
translated? Before diving into that, allow me a little backstory
to set the stage of why this translation patch is so incredible and why
this game is so important to me.
Codename is Sailor V
volume 2 (left), Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon volume 3 (right), author's
Senshi Sailor Moon (Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon) was created by
Japanese manga artist Naoko Takeuchi in 1991, spawned from a slightly
earlier work of hers, Codename is Sailor V. When Takeuchi was
approached to adapt Sailor V into an anime series, she redeveloped the
concept to feature a battle team rather than a single main
heroine. Sailor V became Sailor Venus in the resulting work, with
both Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon and Codename is Sailor V running along
side one another in print, while the Sailor Moon anime series would
adapt and expand the manga stories for television audiences.
Centering around a group of teenage schoolgirls who transform into the
Sailor Soldiers to vanquish evil and defend the solar system, the
Sailor Moon anime series became massively popular in its own right. Striking at
the perfect time during both the 1990's anime boom in the West and the
rise of fansites on the Web, Sailor Moon quickly became a global
phenomenon. Along with an unbelievable volume of licensed
merchandise in Japan, Sailor Moon video games were released on
virtually every platform of the day - mainstream to obscure. No
system fared better in this respect than the Super Famicom, with a pair
of beat-em-ups, two fighting games, four puzzle games, and the lone
Sailor Moon RPG.
Sailor Moon: Another Story box art, one of the few instances in which
young adult Sailor Saturn is seen with the full anime cast
Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon: Another Story
was released in 1995, when
the anime series was about half way through its fourth season.
The game takes place between the third (Sailor Moon S) and fourth
(Sailor Moon SuperS) anime seasons, serving as a direct follow-up to
the conclusion of the Sailor Moon S anime. Although an original
story that follows the anime continuity, Another Story is unique among
licensed Sailor Moon properties in that it also incorporates some
elements of the manga into its narrative. The story involves a
group of citizens displeased with the rule of Neo Queen Serenity in
30th Century Crystal Tokyo. They band together as the Oppositio
Senshi, a counterpoint to the Sailor Senshi, and serve under the rule
of a mysterious woman named Apsu. Together they aim to change
their destiny by rewriting the past, preventing Sailor Moon's legend
from ever happening. Due to their influence, previously defeated
enemies from the entire series up until that point begin to reappear
and history begins to unravel.
Story was released in Japan, the English localization of the first
season of the anime was just beginning to air on North American
television. While popular, the series aired in first-run
syndication in the United States rather than having a major network
behind it. This meant that air times and availability varied
wildly depending on location. I myself first began watching
Sailor Moon on a small local Bay Area television station that aired it
in the afternoons. As I was no longer living in the area, I was
only able to watch the show over a month one summer while visiting
family, before it eventually made its way to Cartoon Network when I was
in high school. By this time it was 1998 or so, anime and
Japanese entertainment culture was exploding around the globe, the
World Wide Web was buzzing with individual fansites about every subject
imaginable, and once limited online communities were now being enjoyed
by the masses. It should be no shock that I ran a Sailor Moon
fansite myself. One of the very first things I did once I got
online a couple years earlier was to look up the series, only to
realize that so much more of it existed outside what aired in the
USA. The Web truly did expand my anime horizons, learning more
every day, and interacting with other fans in the process.
The original Bishoujo
Senshi Translations homepage, with the original patch release
announcement, courtesy Archive.org snapshot
One of those
fan groups I stumbled upon was called Bishoujo Senshi
Translations. They endeavored to do something that was at the
time totally alien to me - they were going to translate a Japanese
Sailor Moon game into English. This era of the Web also coincided
with the rise of emulation and ROM dumps of video game
cartridges. Learning that there were so many Sailor Moon video
games was one thing but now there were people attempting to make the
Sailor Moon RPG playable in English? Could that even be
done? Reading about the Bishoujo Senshi Translations effort
served as my introduction to the concept of ROM hacking and fan
translations of video games. I was absolutely fascinated and
quickly stopped slogging through Another Story with my limited Japanese
knowledge and instead waited in anticipation of the translation
patch. On September 10th, 1999, in correlation with the fictional
birthday of series character Ami Mizuno (Sailor Mercury), Bishoujo
Senshi Translations released their English patch for Another Story.
Bishoujo Senshi Translations patch was pretty incredible given its
release vintage. However it wasn't safe from the usual issues
that fan translations of both video games and anime suffered from at
the time - and still do in some respects.
One of the biggest problems with the Bishoujo Senshi
Translations release was the large amount of Japanese words that were
romanized rather than translated or transliterated. Most of
these are words that come up again and again and as plot devices in the
game, an early example being the rominization of "Ginzuishou" rather
than translating it as "Silver Crystal." Additionally otherwise
common words and titles were romanized rather than translated, which
tend to throw off any narrative flow when reading text, especially for
someone unfamiliar with them. There are also many mistranslations
in the patch that have come to light over the years, including areas of
dialogue that severe liberties were taken with. From a
technical perspective, the patch was a solid effort that even went as
far as translating the dozen or so Japanese language signs in the
game's overworld. Mixed as the end result may have been, the
abundance of passion that was put into the project is as clearly
visible now as it was then, and for two decades it remained how most
non-Japanese speakers enjoyed the game.
Usagi gathers the team
(left), defeated enemies return and Hotaru rapidly ages (center), the Oppositio
Senshi report to Apsu (right)
Or so it was
until June 6th, 2019 when a complete
English re-localization of Another Story was released.
Lead by ROM hackers mziab and vivify93, the new patch brings the game
up to modern ROM hacking standards with an accurate and polished
translation. The re-translated script is far more than a simple
buff and polish, as according to vivify93 over four-hundred
mistranslations found in the original Bishoujo Senshi Translations
patch were corrected. In addition all previously romanized text
has been translated and localized, as have any instances of Japanese
cultural humor, such as Minako Aino's proverb goof ups.
Additionally a few error and bug fixes are applied with the patch that
correct issues with the original game. Their work is simply
incredible and gives the game the professional caliber translation and
presentation it has always deserved.
I won't go
into plot specifics about the game, as if you're familiar with Sailor
Moon and have yet to play Another Story I wouldn't want to spoil
anything. That said, the story is interesting and fits in
perfectly with the series, almost feeling like a lost season of the
anime. It helps to have at least a basic a familiarity with
Sailor Moon, specifically the third season of the anime, Sailor Moon
S. The entire original anime voice cast is featured in the game,
with attacks being called out just as they are in the anime series -
very impressive and a rarity at the time. Leveling up is handled
much in the same way as in standard RPG games but Another Story changes
things up in terms of special techniques, known as Link Techs.
Unlike virtually every other RPG, all Link Techs are available to be
discovered from the very start of the game. A separate "Make Up
Link" menu allows the player to mix and match characters from the cast
into different groups of two or three. If the characters are
compatible, a Link Tech will be displayed and remembered in the Link
Tech menu on the battle screen. The trick to discovering
compatible links is place characters together that make sense - for
instance Neptune and Uranus as they are a couple, or Mercury and
Neptune as they both utilize water as an attack element.
story, presentation, and battle system are all very solid, the core RPG
mechanics of Another Story are where the game is lacking. The
above described Link Tech system may attempt to do something different
with combination attacks but unfortunately many of the Link Techs are
weaker than a standard single character technique. Techniques
that cost more EP (Energy Points, Another Story's magic points) don't
always deal as much damage as those that cost fewer EP to use.
The maximum amount of EP that any character can have tops out at twelve
points - that's right - twelve points. Although EP is fully
restored at the conclusion of a battle, this is no help during a long
boss battle. This means that early boss battles are generally a
slog of using up a character's EP, replenishing their EP with expensive
items, then using it all up again with a couple attacks - over and over
and over again. The second chapter of the game involves the inner
senshi setting off on their own to recover special items, which means a
boss battle for each character in this fashion.
Searching out Link Techs in
the Make Up Link menu (left), a typical battle scene (center), nearly
every character makes an appearance (right)
also crazy strong at the beginning of each new area but after grinding
a little and building up a character's level the enemies become
ridiculously weak. I guess you can't fault a game based on a
licensed property originally targeted at school age girls in Japan for
having some balance issues, but I can fault Another Story for having
insanely high enemy encounter rates. I can't think of another RPG
with encounter rates as absurdly high as Another Story (perhaps
Xenogears) and admittedly they do become a hindrance to the flow of the
game. To help alleviate this, mziab has included a separate
optional patch within the translation package that halves enemy
encounter rate while doubling earned XP and yen, effectively removing
the level grinding aspect of the game without crippling power or
spending ability. A pair of cheat codes built into the original
game allow all characters to begin at either level 16 or 99
respectively and the method to enable them is detailed in the patch's
On one hand
Another Story is yet another RPG based on a licensed property that
suffers from unbalanced enemy encounters, an unconventional special
attack system, and somewhat underdeveloped gameplay mechanics. On
the other hand Another Story is one of the few RPGs based on a licensed
property that actually does the license justice - with an interesting
and compelling story, scenario writing that feels true to the
characters, and a narrative that only takes liberties with the
established source material when necessary. To me, the Sailor
Moon S anime was the pinnacle of Sailor Moon, with even the manga arc
it was adapted from and the two anime seasons that would follow it
falling short. The way that Another Story directly follows
after Sailor Moon S, without disassembling its
satisfying conclusion, while incorporating elements of the manga is
perfect - far better than it was done in the
Sailor Stars anime series in my opinion.
If you're a
fan of Sailor Moon, vintage anime, or classic RPGs then you've probably
already given this one a try but if not it's certainly worth your while
to do so. If you played it years ago with the old translation
then you owe it to yourself to play it again with the re-translation
and experience it as was intended. I can
remember checking the progress page at Bishoujo Senshi Translations
over twenty years ago, waiting and waiting and waiting for the patch to
finally be released. That we've been given a fresh translation of
such a fondly remembered fan translated game is simply incredible. What shines
most with the recent translation patch is the passion for making this
game accessible to English speakers, just as it did with the original
Bishoujo Senshi Translations release. For a fan effort, with two
different teams, released twenty years apart, to come full
circle in that regard is certainly something special. Such seems
to be the allure this game has, whether it's 1999 or 2019.
about Atari most people think about the first system. The Atari
2600 was where it all began for most gamers. This was the system
that launched multiple follow up systems such as the Atari 5200 and
7800. After the sluggish fan base on the later systems, mostly
because of Nintendo coming out with the NES and Sega with the Genesis,
Atari had to think out of the box and create a new console that could
possibly keep up with the giants of Nintendo and Sega. The mid
80s and early 90s were ruled by these two companies when it came to
home video gaming in America. So in November of 1993, Atari
launched a new console called the Jaguar. The best way they could
grab crowd attention is to market the system as the first 64-bit
system. Sega had the Genesis and Nintendo had the Super Nintendo,
both 16-bit systems. Atari was trying to beat the competition to
the punch. The system design was highly unconventional, and the
controller also followed those rules. In my opinion, this
controller is in the top three as the most unusual looking controller
design. There are some great games that came from the Jaguar library
and playing them with the controller can take some practice and getting
used to but works well if you master it on some of the popular titles.
can look and sound complex. But here is really the breakdown of
how it works. It really is a compilation of controllers made before the
Jaguar. Like the Intellivision, the Jaguar controller had a
numeric pad which can be used with a control overlay to easily hit the
correct buttons. The control pad can be compared to the Sega
Genesis with the plus shaped D-pad that can move in circular rotation,
as well as the A, B, C buttons. There are two buttons in the
middle that control pausing the game and bringing up the option menu.
One of the
most popular titles for the Jaguar, and in its short shelf life there
were about 50 games for the system, is Alien vs. Predator. First
person shooters (FPS) in the 1990s were starting to take off with games
like Doom and Quake. Alien vs. Predator (AvP) was based off the
movie of the same name. It took the same kind of genre of the
other FPS games but changed it up by using Aliens rather than monsters
and people. The graphics were as good if not better than the
competition. The controls were unusual but easy at the same
time. There are three different overlays for the game depending
on which mission you choose. You can choose Marine, Alien, or
Predator. To move your character, you will use the Direction Pad,
which is standard on all overlays. The buttons are consistent as well
based on your mission choice. The A button is like an action button, it
will open doors, use the computer and enter doors. B button is
the main attack button for whatever weapon you may have, and the C
button is used as a sidestep function which sometimes can be useful for
dodging at the last minute. Like most games, the more you
practice, the better you will get. This game is to some the best
of the best for Atari Jaguar, I highly recommend playing it.
game I played is a vertical shooting game called Raiden. There
would be multiple sequels to the game on different platforms along the
way. A typical story line of Earth being taken over and you as
pilot of the ship have to defend and conquer the aliens to take back
the planet. This game has a great flow to it and many different
powerups to make the game exciting and challenging at the same
time. The controls are pretty standard as this is really a matter
of dodging and firing at the enemies, all the while moving around the
screen to pick up weapon powerups. The A and B button can be used
to fire, and C is used for the Bomb, if you have any. The overlay
is not really needed to play this game, it just makes the controller
look more a part of the experience. The series continues today
with Raiden V released on the Xbox One in Japan and PlayStation 4 in
U.S. If you are looking for a good vertical scrolling shooter,
this is a must have fort the Jaguar.
Alien vs. Predator
(left), Raiden (center), Tempest 2000 (right)
most talked about game for Atari Jaguar owners is Tempest 2000.
Released in 1994, This remake was from the original arcade game called
Tempest. A mildly popular arcade game that tested each gamers
hand eye coordination and skill. Even though this version of the
game was released for some other platforms, the Jaguar was the first to
showcase the game. The controls were not as smooth as the arcade,
but it was close enough to enjoy the ride. In the arcade version,
it used a knob that would control the blaster. This was
replicated with the Atari Jaguar D-pad. Not as smooth, but it
worked for this game. Like other shooting games, the B button
would shoot but the C button would fire your Super Zapper, as they
called it. The A button would be for the jumping feature.
The overlay would do many things that were not necessarily needed in
the game but had some extra features like zooming in and out on the
ship and turning the music on and off. This game is still to this
day super fun to play. Tempest 2000 was one of the top selling
games for the system.
systems do, the Jaguar came out with peripherals and extras.
Atari after a few years came out with the Jaguar Pro Controller, which
did not sell very well as it came as the system was on the
decline. This addition to this controller were the added two
Left/Right triggers on the top and three additional face buttons which
were not used very much. Another attempt to keep up with the
competition was to add a CD attachment, to play what they hope to be
more games via the CD market. Atari had a vision to keep the
system going longer but with the lack of games and developers it was
hard to keep it going. I consider this system underrated and a
truly needed system for anyone’s collection.
Every Friday on The Retrogaming Times
we present a Weekly Retrogaming Trivia question. This
trivia challenge provided each week is an opportunity to test your
and oddball retrogaming knowledge. The answer to the question
the previous week is posted along with a new trivia question every
Below is the recap of all
answers posted between this issue and the previous issue:
04/26/2019 - WEEK 114 Question: What
Taito arcade game is now considered to be a spiritual predecessor of
- WEEK 115 Question: Skeet
Shoot was the first Atari VCS game released by what company?
- WEEK 116 Question: The
A-Train series was created by what Japanese software developer?
- WEEK 117 Question: An
unlicensed Sean Connery cameo appears in what arcade shooter?
- WEEK 118 Question: What suds
slinging arcade game uses the song Oh! Susanna as one of its pieces of
- WEEK 119 Question: Frenzy
(1982) is the sequel to what arcade game?
- WEEK 120 Question: What was
the only NES game published by toy manufacturer Matchbox?
Chack'n Pop (left) was
later refined into Bubble Bobble using many of the same character
Answers: Week 114 Answer: Chack'n Pop
(1983). Week 115 Answer: Games by
Apollo. Week 116 Answer: Artdink. Week 117 Answer: Carrier Air
Wing / U.S. Navy. Week 118 Answer: Tapper (1983). Week 119 Answer: Berzerk (1980). Week 120 Answer: Motor City
While Carrier Air
Wing had a commander who resembled Sean Connery (left), in the Japanese
version, U.S. Navy, he was a dead ringer (right)
need your questions! If
you have a trivia question you would like to submit for possible
in the Weekly Retrogaming Trivia question pool, e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org!
If you question is selected to be featured, you will be entered in our
year-end prize drawing!
In early June
Konami announced their plans to release a TurboGrafx-16 / PC Engine
mini console, similar to what Nintendo has done with the NES / Famicom,
SNES / Super Famicom, and Sony with the PlayStation. These are
emulation based systems enclosed in a shell that resembles a miniature
version of the console they represent, designed for use with standard
modern HD televisions. A complement of games is included on each,
generally curated to be a collection of the most popular titles for a
specific region. While the vintage age consoles (Atari,
Colecovision, Intellivision) previously had all-in-one systems, the
emulation and build quality were generally lacking and they were
relegated to little more than a novelty. Additionally the bootleg
market is crammed with plug-and-play systems based on the Famicom
architecture - if you've been to a flea market in the past fifteen
years you've probably seen at least one. Nintendo changed the
perception of what a licensed all-in-one system could be with the
release of the NES Mini. Featuring a clean interface with an
excellent assortment of games, it became a rare example of a nostalgic
product that satisfied both the casual and serious gamer. These
systems also provide a legal way to purchase old games that directly
support the license holders.
I never had
much interest in any of the mini consoles as I prefer the file
flexibility of using flash memory cartridges on original
hardware. Additionally I prefer to play classic games on a CRT
television. However the announcement of a TurboGrafx-16 / PC
Engine mini struck a chord with me. While I already have a couple
PC Engine consoles and a Turbo Everdrive, and the mini is just another
emulation box, it'll allow me to flow some money to Konami in support
of their classic Hudson IPs. I missed the TurboGrafx-16 era, only
buying a system during the very last days of Turbo Zone Direct, which
means I've only ever bought two games (Cosmic Fantasy 2 and Exile
Wicked Phenomenon) from a first-run licensed dealer. I've owned
lots of hardware, games, and accessories since but it was all purchased
secondhand. No one may care but I see this as an opportunity to
make that right in a sense, a thank you for all the games I
enjoy. It doesn't hurt that I also love the idea of an officially
licensed PC Engine that is even smaller than an original PC
Engine. Konami has announced that there will be three different
hardware styles dependent on region: TurboGrafx-16 mini (North
America), PC Engine mini (Japan), and PC Engine CoreGrafx mini
(Europe). A full game list has yet to be released but at the
moment it appears there will be different games included based on
region. If the emulation is solid then I plan on buying a
TurboGrafx-16 mini on day one. More than likely I'll also buy a
PC Engine mini once the console is inevitably hacked / jailbroken to
allow other games to be loaded on it and make it my general HD
emulation box. Are you excited to see the PC Engine return?
Drop me a line and let me know your thoughts!
Thank you once
again for reading The Retrogaming
Times. We'll be back on September 1st with our next issue.
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