Posts tagged "Game Consoles and Handhelds"
These are the entries related to game consoles and handhelds as opposed to computers.
In order to understand someone, it helps to learn how they think. To understand an obscure 1980s video game console, it helps to learn how it thinks. And how does it think? With cartridges. We’re gonna buy a cartridge for the LJN Video Art system, and build a dumper for it.
The Nintendo NES has more than its fair share of Achilles’ heels, but the motherboard is not usually one of them. Even so, there’s an open-source replacement motherboard for the system. Blog superfriend Keegs constructed one, but it’s not quite working. Let’s figure out what’s going on and take a look at the unique features of this new board.
Sure, I’ve cloned TI TMS99xx-based systems before. There’s the ColecoVision and the Sega SG-1000. But those were all Z80s, and it’s important to diversify my interests a little bit. Luckily, VTech released a little 6502-based system called the CreatiVision, and let the schematics get out.
Snail Maze. Either you know what it is, or your video game system didn’t come with a free video game hidden deep within its logic board. Or you bought a later Sega Master System, which didn’t have it. But what if we could bring Snail Maze to those later Master Systems? What if, indeed?
One of my white whales finally came up for a price that I could justify. Let’s see just how wounded it is, and then welcome it home with a little bit of help from some smart friends.
You can always tell when it’s the holidays. The days are getting shorter, I’m always going out to shovel snow off the sidewalk, and I have a hankering to build a Famicom cartridge. Or, more specifically, a blog friend asked me to put one together, so I’m using my Tengen Tetris piracy skills… for good?
For version 3 of the Soggy-1000 SG-1000 clone, I wanted to make it more useful as a general-purpose computer. Building a new keyboard is going to cost a fortune in parts, so it’s fiscally prudent to find more reasons to use said keyboard. There are only so many SG-1000 games out there, the SC-3000 software library is kind of small, and I was using only 2k of the 32k of RAM that I had on the board. These are all problems that can be solved with a suitably large application of hubris.
If you’ve been following the Soggy-1000, my clone of the Sega SG-1000, then you know what it needs most of all is a keyboard. The original Sega SK-1100 keyboard is hard to find, but I still managed to luck out and get one at auction. Let’s plug it in and find out if it still works.
As we’ve covered before during the clone saga, the Sega SG-1000 was an unfortunate casualty of the Nintendo juggernaut. But surely the redesigned SG-1000 II would do better, right? No.
Once I got the Soggy-1000 playing SG-1000 cartridges, the next thing to do was to extend it. In this phase of the project, we’ll take that leap from “interesting” to “slightly ridiculous,” by adding the feature I’m most excited about – at least until I get excited about a different one – the SK-1100 keyboard connector.
The SG-1000, being Sega’s first home console, has appreciated quite a bit over the years. Its price is now faintly ridiculous, especially when you consider its successor, the relatively inexpensive Mark III. Luckily for us, this console is made out of off-the-shelf components, virtually all of which are also found in the ColecoVision. If only we knew someone who’d cloned the ColecoVision…
There are a lot of people buying fancy upscalers these days. And who can blame them? Old videogames are great, but new monitors are lazy and inept. What, the signal is too slow for you? Clearly all these great old arcade boards, computers, and game consoles are just not a big enough challenge for the input logic in modern LCDs, who prefer to spend their considerable brainpower decoding much higher-frequency syncs. To solve this problem, I’ll spend not very much money.
Have you ever wondered how it’s feasible for AliExpress sellers to produce knock-off Sega Genesis cartridges for under five bucks? I sure was, so I bought one and then tore it apart for your edification. You can thank me later.
Years ago, I was offered a copy of the Tengen version of Tetris for the NES, and passed it up because $60 was way too much for a boxed NES game. I regret that. Let’s make one.
Through the more-than-generous offer of a ColecoVision, I now have a real machine to use as a basis for comparison. Just what is the real machine like inside, and could it possibly be better?
We got conventional ColecoVision “hand” controllers working well in the last entry. I’ve never used any of the ColecoVision’s more exotic controllers before; will they work properly on my clone machine, even though I didn’t really understand them?
In the last entry, I was left with a working ColecoVision-compatible board, albeit one with a very stuttery controller that would only work when connected to what I thought was the second controller port. Let’s fix that, and then enjoy the cheapo ColecoVision games that I spent all this effort building this thing for in the first place.
One of the most unloved machines in my
hoard collection is the Atari Jaguar. It’s not because I don’t have good games for it, or because it’s not working. No, it’s because the Jaguar came used with only the RF adapter, and I hated setting it up with a TV. After testing it out, and collecting a few games for it, it ended up getting boxed away for a move about a decade ago and hasn’t come out since. And that’s a crying shame.
When we last read about the Famicom composite mod, there were a bunch of changes I wanted to make, but left tragically undone in the name of getting in some Mario time over the holidays. Now I’m going to make a solid effort at producing a more production-ready version of the modification.
You wouldn’t think it’s hard or expensive to find a Model 2 Genesis, but apparently in Japan it is both. I’d been looking for one of these for a while, and finally got just the right (cheap) console. Let’s explore some Japanese Mega Drive games with it.
I’m a little late to the whole PlayStation ownership game, but what better way to start than by attempting a modchip install? This one had some twists and turns, but ultimately ends up with me being able to play A-Train in blurry composite video.
If you read a lot of gaming magazines in the early 90s, you might remember being confused about some crude ads for this handheld game system. For everyone else, there’s a pretty decent repair in this one.
Since I’ve been reading I Am Error, I’ve been getting more and more interested in the technical aspects of the Famicom. Turns out all you really need to get me interested in your console is prose explanations of how a pattern table works. Also, I get to drip some molten lead into it so I can use a modern TV! Everyone wins.
On my latest jaunt to the wild world of Japanese auctions, I found this Sega Mark III that nobody else seemed to love as I got it for only ¥1100. Once it arrived at my home, I realized why. A Sega that can’t play games is too sad for words, so let’s get the thing up and running again.
In order to get to the bottom of a mystery, I had to put a lot of other mysteries in my way first. And then also build some hardware. At the end of this entry, I’ll have actually used old hardware to play a videogame. I’m scared too.
The boards for the homemade ColecoVision clone project have arrived. It’s been a long haul of finger-burning fun to get the console assembled, but will it ever be able to play a cartridge?
With the recent success of the PC-9801NS/T capacitor replacement, I had chip-electrolytic capacitors on the brain. And like I said in this article, the easiest place to find more of those leaky little rectangles in my house was in the Game Gear I hadn’t bothered to repair for years.
While a ColecoVision is sometimes pricey and hard to find in my area, the much more rare Coleco Gemini fell into my lap while looking through my favourite flea-market junk bin. Because the machine came without cables, a power adapter, or joysticks, it had been relegated to the sad little corner where unloved consoles go, right next to a stripped-for-parts Intellivision II and a battered-looking 2600 Jr. Let’s see if it can be coerced to once again play Combat.
When Nintendo wanted to enter the burgeoning Chinese market in 2003, they did so with a neat redesigned Nintendo 64 in a single joypad. Unfortunately, they didn’t sell a lot of them (eight to twelve thousand units, depending who you ask). This makes it an interesting and uncommon artifact from Nintendo history. I won one on YouTube. Here it is! Let’s play some games.
When I found some cheap ColecoVision cartridges in the junk bin at the flea market, I knew I had to save them from whatever fate awaited them after the junk bin. How would I play them? Today’s old-ColecoVision prices are ridiculous, so I started building one instead.
The Sega Nomad. A tiny Genesis you can take on the go, and have access to Phantasy Star IV and Gunstar Heroes on the bus. While that may not seem impressive now, in this age of smartphones that can cure cancer and cause depression, I desperately wanted one when it was new. Ten years ago, I was finally able to get mine. Unfortunately, because I am really cheap, I picked one that was, as the French say, “a little bit broken.”
Pop quiz: what do you get for 221 yen? If you answered “nothing but problems,” you’re correct. What kind of problems? Two WonderSwans, at the same time? Now how can that be a problem?
When I made a trip to Japan recently, one of the things I was looking for was a Bandai WonderSwan Color. I’d had a black and white one previously, but the colour version can run so many more games. Games I can’t understand, but it’s most of the way there.
There are a lot of broken Nintendo DS consoles out there. A shattered screen there, a broken flip hinge here: it would be nice if someone could do something to save some of those wounded machines. Someone did do something!
Another postie-threatening crate arrived on my porch this week. There’s a lot of projects in this one; I’m not even sure a single one is “usable” as-is. This one sort of got away from me, but those are the fun kind!
The more questionable of the three “for parts” Sega Genesises I traded for in the previous entry is now fixed. It didn’t take too much effort - just some attention to detail, a few games of Columns, one cheap spare part, and a soldering iron.
As part of a project to repair a badly-hurt JVC X’Eye, I’ve been looking for “parts” Genesis IIs to harvest a 315-5660 VDP chip from. Unfortunately, the Genesis II seems to be quite the tough customer. I keep fixing the parts machines before they can be sacrificed.
I finally got the chance to test the Master System with a Genesis controller. Early indications are that it worked great with the built-in games, as well as those in the cartridge slot. The choice of button mapping is a little weird (the “C” button accelerates in Hang-On, and of course there is no Start button).
Sometimes the best finds are in your own backyard. I was coming back from breakfast when I saw a garage sale sign. After following it for awhile, I took a wrong turn - and ended up at an even better garage sale, with no sign.
I bought a large lot of Super Famicoms off of Japanese auction for cheap, and set about trying to repair them. Almost all of them had problems.
A Model 2 VA1.8 Sega Genesis purchased off eBay as non-working presented as non-working. After several days of diagnosis, tracing and research into the system, I finally figured out that the problem was the corroded trace I identified right off the bat.